Slum residents unite againstforced evictions
They demand thegovernment torespect their housingrights throughsigning a petition
By John Okewa
Amnesty International pitchedtent at Kamukunji grounds in Kib-era to collect residents’ signa-tures on petitions to present to thegovernment asking for an end toforced eviction in African slums.This campaign was conductedon March 24, simultaneously in other African nations, including Nigeria,Ghana, Zimbabwe, Chad, Egypt andKenya. “We want to show the Afri-can leaders that the slum dwellersmust be involved in the decisionsand recommendations they makeand that they are not doing us a fa-vour, it is our constitutional right to
be sheltered by the government,”
said Marcus George from Nigeria.This African ministerial con-ference on housing and urban de-velopment (AMCHUD) was be-ing held at the KICC Nairobi.The meeting that brought togeth-er African housing ministers from 54countries from 20-24 March, agreedthat the government should consider
the following before evictions: rstly
the government must respect the pro-visions of article 20 of Kenya’s newConstitution; secondly every personmust have a right to live; thirdly theremust be an eviction policy and reset-tlement guidelines; and lastly com- pensation of victims in some mini-mum degree and security of tenure.Speaking to our reporter during theevent, Daniel Valls, the regional cam- paigns coordinator at Amnesty Inter-national, said, “Amnesty Internationalis a human rights organization, it wasfounded 50 years ago the organizationstands for the oppressed, those notable to speak and express their ideas.We have also included the rights of those oppressed economically, so-cially and cultural rights violation.“This road show is in solidarity withthose affected by housing rights viola-tion and to demand from the govern-ment, local authority from Kenya torespect housing rights and stop forced
evictions,” he said. “The petition be
-ing signed shall be presented to Afri-can governments in September. Thiswill compel them to involve the slumdwellers in their decisions beforeevictions. They should be given an
alternative place to reside,” he added.
“The idea is good. The problemis that our African leaders just see theslums as votes. After electing them
they forget our grievances,” said Mary
Auma, a resident of Gatwekera whenasked about her views on the event.The Amnesty International crewwere dressed in t-shirts with differentmessages, all trying to persuade thegovernment to stop forced eviction.The event attracted a mammothcrowd. They were entertained bythe energetic gospel musician Ju-
lius Owino “Juliani” who was the
Amnesty International ambassa-dor against forced eviction in Ke-nyan slums that is Kibera, Mkuru,Mathare and Korokocho. The musi-cian also led the crowd in observinga moment of silence in respect to the
people who lost their lives in a re at
Mathare. The crowd was also enter-tained by outstanding comic perfor-mances from the Zangalewa dancers.
Water shortagepersists despitethe onset of rains
By Paul Owino
Residents of several villages inKibera are facing severe water short-ages, even after the formation of a task force to oversee disconnec-tion of illegal water connections.Long queues, some as long as 500metres, are being witnessed at water points, many of which have run dry.Though the rainy season hasstarted, there is no possibility of harvesting the rain water as it is un-safe for use because roofs are rustyand clogged with debris and trash.The Kibera Mirror discoveredthe problem was being caused by wa-ter vendors who were sabotaging eachother last month. A meeting betweenall the water vendors was convened
at the District Commissioner’s Ofce
on March 14, in an effort to come upwith a simple and long-lasting solu-tion over the Kibera water shortage.Those attending the meeting, whichwas also attended by the area chief John Mutai and the Regional Tech-nical Co-coordinator of the NairobiWater Company’s southern region,Mr. Masinde, accused the companyof being reluctant to effectivelydeal with the water problem in Kib-era especially illegal connections.Lugunga, a water vendor from
Makina, pointed an accusing n
-ger at the company saying that itwas colluding with the people whohave water in their taps. “My taphas been dry for ten years now but
each month I receive a bill,” he said.
As this continues some residentsare blaming two NGOs that providewater to the residents. The comingof the NGOs led to the numerousillegal connections as they offeredemployment to idle unskilled Kib-era residents who took advantage of
the situation to benet themselves.
Meanwhile long queues are still
seen with the price now averaging ve
shillings in Gatwekera. The situationis even worse in areas like Karanja,where the residents are paying as muchas ten shillings per 20 litre jerrican.
Week-long policesearch results inarrests, mob kill-ings of suspects
By Mirror reporter
A week-long, door-to-door police search for criminals at Lindihas resulted in several youths de-serting the area, and the executionof other suspects by angry mobs.Several of the youths who were ar-rested protested their innocence.The search, which was conducted by the Kenya Police with the help of residents, resulted in several youths being rounded up, accused of be-ing criminals. This occurred after aman was shot dead in broad daylight by gun-toting thieves. The victimhad refused to let them steal his car.The area has been perceived asone of the most insecure places tostay in Kibera because the crime rateis high. Even people who sell veg-etables have been robbed at gunpoint.The week-long operation was
intended to recover illegal rearms
which are said to be in plentiful inthe area. Some suspects were killed by angry mobs during the operation.
Nubians still struggling for legal rightsin Kenya
FROM PAGE ONE
neighbourhoods, are subjected tofrequent harassment by the police.The Nubians originated fromthe Nuba Mountains in central Su-dan. They were press-ganged into the
British King’s African Ries in late1800s to ght during the scramble
for Africa. After conquering Kenya,the Nubian soldiers were offered landin Kibera on the outskirts of Nairobi.Here they could keep cattle, growcrops and settle with their families.According to The Carter Report,
a 1933 document written by British
colonial administrator Sir MorrisCarter which urged justice for the Nubians, the area which was gazetted
in 1918. It originally measured 4,197
acres and was assigned to ex-soldiers
from The Kings African Ries to live
with their families. Today only about500 acres remain. It has become Af-rica’s largest slum, where the govern-ment regards everyone as a squatter.The Nubian community is theonly community that does not havecommunal land and its people do nothave a rural home. They thereforecannot do any meaningful develop-ment because of the constant fear of demolition. The effect of this is awhole community living in poverty.Article 63 chapter 5 of the new con-stitution states that community landshall be vested and held by communi-
ties identied on the basis of ethnicity,
culture or similar community interest.Ironically, Kibera comes from Ki- bra a Nubi word for forest or jungle.Mzee Mohamed is in his latesixties. He says that their problems began immediately after indepen-dence when the government brandedthem as foreigners. Since then it has been a multi-generational struggleagainst poverty and alienation.“Sometime after independencethe then governments started carv-ing out several pieces of land origi-nally allocated to them by the Brit-ish for developing present dayestates around Kibera, like Jamhuri,Otiende, Southlands and Ayani. Wewere pushed to the area around Kara-nja that later turned squalid, con-
gested and overpopulated,” he says.
Despite the existence of a state-ment in article 15 of the UniversalDeclaration of Human Rights of
1948 on nationality that states that
“Everyone has the right to nation-
ality,” the Nubians in Kenya are
faced with a myriad of challenges.They lack land rights in Kiberaand other settlements that they oc-cupy. In Kibera, for instance, therehave been incidents of confrontationswith other communities. They livein a constant fear of being evictedwithout notice or compensation.When the slum upgrading projectstarted in Kibera, most of the Nubiansdisapproved it because of this reason.“The only piece of land that the Nubian community owns is the cem-etery. It is very sad that you are onlyaccepted as a Kenyan when you
die,” Mzee Mohamed says sadly.
They not only have a hard time get-
ting ID card but also birth certicates
and passports. In fact they were con-
sidered as foreigners until 1990 when
the government created vetting com-mittees to establish the nationality of each one of them. Those who did not pass the vetting still live in legal limbo.The community also faces con-stant discrimination with regardsto their identity. Mohamed saysthat he feels bad whenever hehears others refer to them as ‘Mnu- bi’ which he says is derogatory.Furthermore the Nubians arenot factored by the governmentwhen it comes to resource shar-ing and allocation. The commu-nity is probably the only one with-out representation in parliament.With nothing being done to ad-dress their issues by successivegovernments and political leaders,the Nubians are no doubt Kenya’smost vulnerable and underrepre-sented communities in social, eco-nomic, political and cultural levels..
KIBERA MIRROR ISSUE 8: PAGE 3
Hip hopartist JuliusOwino ‘Ju-liani’(in a black t-shirt)holdshands withresidentsof Kiberain solidar-ity againstforcedevictions atKamukunjigrounds
Members of the Nubiancommnityduring apast meetingin Kibera.There havebeen com-plains thatthe commu-nity is beingmargina-lised by thegoverment