Amy Baker from London’s Stories interviews Jayanti, whose shoe cobbling business in the Reliance Arcade has been serving Brixton’s broken shoes for ten years
I am originally from Kisumu in Kenya, East Africa but I have lived in London now for 40 years.
Me and my family moved here in 1971. I had been living in Nairobi and wanted to start my own business but because I am a British Citizen, I was unable to get a licence to do this. I could have got a licence to open a business somewhere else but it would have been too difficult so we moved to England.
When I first arrived I lived in Southwark and I worked as a machinist at an upholsterers for a long time before eventually opening my shop in Brixton Arcade about ten years ago. I’ve lived in Brixton now for close to 20 years.
London and England are very good. The law and order here is good and the people are nice.
Everywhere has problems. You just have to remember that it is important to look after yourself wherever you go, in whatever city you are in. The weather can be difficult but you just get used to it like everyone else does. It doesn’t bother me any more.
I don’t really miss Kenya. It was such a long time ago that it seems like a different life completely. I was young, only 30, when I left and I haven’t been back since.
Brixton just keeps getting better and busier. It’s a 24-hour place, every hour of the day people are on the high street, shopping, chatting, waiting for a bus. It just seems to keep on getting busier. The people in Brixton are friendly and because I’ve been here a long time, I¹ve got to know a lot of faces.
My Father and I had a shoe making business similar to what I do now. The business was in Nairobi where I lived between 1965 -1970.
My favourite place in London is where I live, at home with my family.