The year 2012 brings with it a great hope and high expectations for the Nubian community on Kenya. This is so because in September 2011, the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of Child published its first ever decision, relating to discrimination in access to nationality for Nubian children in Kenya. ACERWC was responding to a communication filed under its complaints procedure. The committee found the case to be admissible because the national proceeding here in Kenya had effectively stalled making the case an exception to the requirement to exhaust domestic remedies before turning to the committee.
The arguments put forward to the Committee of Experts are:
1. Violation of the rights to acquire nationality at birth for Nubian children.
2. Unlawful discrimination against Nubian children on basis of their ethnic background.
3. Consequential violations: as a result of historical tre- atment as foreigners, citizen status was uncertain, denial of equal access to essential services such as education and healthcare.
The Committee found Kenya’s action violated Article 6 of the African Charter provision protecting children’s right. The Committee then made its recommendations to the government of Kenya to correct the violations within six month after the ruling.
ACERWC decision’s significance extends well beyond Kenya. Nubians are conscious that their case could have far reaching implications for other marginalized groups in Kenya and Africa as a whole. Their example should also be a source of hope and encouragement for stateless communities struggling to claim their rights all over the world.
Facts about Kibra
Kibra is a village on the outskirt of Nairobi, (capital city of Kenya), about six kilometers from the city center. It is a home for the Nubian community whose forefathers were settled there by the then British colonial government after conscription from the army, the Kings African Rifles (KAR). Nubians originated from the northern Sudan.
Kibra Nubian village as it is known, came into being early last century, after the area was designated a military reserve for the demobilized KAR soldiers.
Kibra was already there when Nairobi was made a city in 1902. Kibra was registered in 1917/18, and survey map reproduced in 1934.
The official original area of Kibra was 1497.5 acres. This area has however been reduced to its current 600 or so acres by the successive governments employing the policy of marginalization, and land grabbing by corrupt government authorities and influential rich people. Kibra Problems
Kibra lost its origin soon after independence. These problems were started by selfish politicians who wanted to keep control over their voters. The first change we saw in Kibra was the change of the name from Kibra to Kibera, the corrupted name adapted soon after independence. This was intentionally done to distort the history of the area.
Kibra is now a home to more than 500,000 people, a figure released by the civil society organizations. The national census done in the year 2009 put the figure at 250,000, this latter figure is largely believed to be a distorted figure.
Majority of the population are people who invaded the area for political or economic reasons. Cheap and affordable housing in the area made it attractive to people who earn low salaries, and at the same time politicians invited their supporters to gain voting power.
This great influx of people in Kibra made it to be the largest slum on Africa. Challenges facing the Kenya Government.
Among the challenges facing the government and those who want to resolve the land question in Kibra are:
1. Competing rights between the Nubians, who settled in Kibra more than 100 years ago, even before Nairobi became a city, and migrants who have continuously been settling there since after independence.
2. Political competition between major tribes like the Luos and the Kikuyus. Each one trying to outnumber the other.
3. Economical interest of those who believe they have a right to the piece of land they have invaded: owning a land in Kibra is a bog deal, and they will use any means available to protect their interests. Challenges facing the Nubian Community
1. Uncertainty about the government giving back the Kibra land to the Nubian community. This issue of Kibra land has been internationalized through media, Human Right bodies, and the African Court. But the government s still quiet.
2. The community has to continue keeping the government under pressure claiming their rights and internationalize the issue. Use international organizations and international law. Tickle the mind of decision makers.
3. The community must always remain united, unity is critical to delivering a clear message to the government.
4. Community must be organized.
5. The community must be sensitive to the unfulfilled promises given by the successive governments about the Kibra land. On the contrary, tensions were created between the Nubians and other communities, while the politicians from the major tribes incited their followers to violence.
Writing this article was never about making money. However, the small donation I plead for is for helping me cover blogging expenses in the long journey I intend to make advocating for reforms of the marginalized minority, and also engaging in other community matters.
Donation can be made via PayPal using the button below.