The Oppressed People of Kibra : A Nubian Perspective

Nuba woman near Kau, Nuba Mountains, Sudan
Nuba woman near Kau, Nuba Mountains, Sudan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

British colonial government and the Nubian soldiers

When the British first came to Kenya, they brought with them conscripted soldiers from the Nuba area of the Sudan – whose descendants now live scattered in many areas in Kenya, but the majority of them are found in the slum area of Kibra in Nairobi.

After their arrival in Kenya the British possessed and exercised absolute sovereignty over what became known as the Kenya British Colony.

The British colonial government  allocated a land approximately 4000 acres set up as a military settlement for the Sudanese soldiers. This piece of land, which is the present Kibra, is on the outskirts of the city of Nairobi.

The vast land was then “empty”, uninhabited thick forest when the Nubians first occupied it.

English: Slum Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya.
English: Slum Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This was the land that the colonial government gave as a gift to the ex-Sudanese soldiers in recognition of their distinguished service.

The Nubians knew how to survive there as they came to know the area so well. They divided the area into small villages and had names for each village in their own language(s).

They cultivated the land to produce food for themselves.

Kibra land survey and allocations

In the year 1933 a land commission was formed by the then British colonial government and was known as ” Carter Land Commission”, which set out policies on land uses and acquisition. The Kibra land case was particularly mentioned in this report where special consideration was given to the area.

In the year 1934, a plan of  “location survey of buildings and agricultural lands”  was prepared which showed the numbered plots allocated to the ex-Sudanese soldiers and their descendants.

These plots were considered in the same category as any rural ancestral land around the country and therefore subject to being accorded appropriate security of tenure ownership document.

Broken agreement

When people “treatied” or “agreed” with one another, on whatever agreement with one another, each party’s interest, its pride and its word were at stake. The word  used in this case “agreed” (to give this piece of land to the ex-Sudanese soldiers as a gift) was given in a very sacred way and should not have been very easily broken.

Rewriting history

The present authority appear to have distorted the history about Kibra. It is difficult to find written document about this piece of land.

In the early years when the then British colonial government recognized and handed over the land to the ex-soldiers, the crown of the Great Britain must have laid down a process in the proclamation that set forth the policy on this particular piece of Kibra land. To my knowledge, that policy has not been revoked at any time. In the proclamation, the Colonial government must have recognized that  any land possessed or given to a certain individual or group would be reserved for them until they ceded that land back to the authority.

In the Carter Land Commission of 1933 report lies a proclamation that could be regarded as the first major  legal link between the Kibra Nubians and and the Kenya government. And by virtue of that proclamation, it can be said that Kibra is legally an area reserved for Nubians.

Non-committal

The history on the settlement of Kibra has shown that the successive Kenya governments have continued to disregard the plight of the Nubian community. The oppression of this marginalized community is about the denial of security of land tenure and the citizenship rights.

On the other hand, why have the successive British governments maintain a non-committal stance on this matter?

 

 

Community Strategic Plan

English: SWOT analysis diagram in English lang...
English: SWOT analysis diagram in English language. Français : Matrice SWOT en anglais. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

KIBRA TODAY

COMMUNITY STRATEGIC PLAN

SWAT ANALYSIS

EXAMINING OUR

STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES

OPPORTUNITIES AND THREATS

PASSION: Lets develop passion to have progressive Kibra.

Passion is a very simple and yet a very important word. The word means ” a strong feeling of love or anger”. What you really are can be seen by where your passion lies. Passion is the ingredient that makes transformation possible.

It is said that skill provides you options while passion pushes you to pursue options – ignore passion and forget progress.

So we want to transform as a community! To begin the process of transformation, we must have an accurate assessment of who we are, where we are, and where we want to be. Hence turning to SWOT analysis.

First, let’s look at our Kibra passionately:

  1. We all know that there is a great “passion” among our community for our Kibra. People love the ambiance, the natural setting, the country side, the history, the heritage and much more. These feelings have unfortunately, been largely destroyed by the politics of this country.
  2. There is a strong sense of community. We are proud of ourselves, our community organizations and our neighbourhoods.
  3. There is a sense of entrenchment. As people say, “we all love progress, it’s the change we hate”.
  4. None the less. We recognize the opportunity in pursuing fresh ideas/attitudes. There is a desire to create a new vision plan for the future and coordinate efforts among the community.
  5. Too much focus on issues and weaknesses. We need to promote our strengths among ourselves. Then we will be better be able to present our strengths to visitors and others outside our community.
  6. There are specific issues that are foremost in our minds:
    1. To unite each one of us so that we speak from the same voice.
    2. To get the tittle deed for our land.
    3. To protect our quality of life and address the well being of our people.
  7. There are strengths to build upon and opportunities to pursue:
    1. Co-ordinating the talents and energies of our people to achieve a common vision.
    2. Arts, culture, recreation and leisure
    3. Heritage
    4. Under-utilized resources
    5. Honesty
  8. Our people are knowledgeable, experienced and brimming with interesting and innovative ideas. The challenge is to make good use of these valuable resources.

Some SWOT ideas by topics:

  1. Arts, Culture and Recreation

Strengths . Community spirit and pride

. History: rich historical background

. First community to settle in Nairobi

Weaknesses . Community lacks tradition of volunteering their time and talent for the benefit of

Its people.

. Lack of broad vision, policy and leadership for culture and recreation

. No organised programs for community culture and recreation.

. Lack of funding to carry out such programs.

. Knowledge of community about culture or events is poor; need better communi-

Cattion.

. Limited or no opportunities for recreation.

Opportunities . Planning, developing facilities for culture and recreation.

. Acquiring facilities for such

Threats . No volunteers coming forward.

. Lack of funds.

  1. Economic Development : Labour Market/ Training

    Strengths . People: educated, diverse, young

    . Community networks and organizations

    Weaknesses . Lack of broad vision and common goals

    . Not addressing needs of neediest

    . Lack of linkages between employers, training agencies

    . No involvement in small businesses

    Opportunities . Focus on small businesses

    . Focus on growth sectors: tourism, use our crafts, Tabaga, Kuta, Birish

    . Increased partnership activity : refocus/expand role of existing edu-

    cational facilities

    . Build stronger links with NGOs, business communities

    Threats . Competition for employment and businesses with other communities

    . ” Status Quo Thinking “

  2. Our Neighbourhoods

    Strengths . Neighbourhood identities and strong traditions

    . People : diversity, good mix of age, interests

    . Facilities : affordable (own) housing

    Weaknesses . No recreational facilities

    . Most houses are temporary structures, no insurerence

    . Increasing costs leading to affordability problems

    . Growing gaps between “Haves and Have Nots”

    . Lack of common vision/goals between community

    . Lack of vibrant neighbourhood

    Opportunities . Associations, events, planning, communications.

  3. Community Services : Education, Health and other Instiyutions

    Strengths . Educational infrastructure

    . Strong base of institutions/ programs

    Weaknesses . Working in ” Silos “

    . Not communicating with ” ordinary people “

    . Not6 connecting with neighbourhoods

    . Not focusing on children early enough, infant pre-school programming lacking, need


    Parenting supports.

    Opportunities . Aging population : skills and experience can be tapped.

    . New partnerships, roles and approaches

    . Plan and evaluate programs and policies from health perspective

    . Increased focus on early years of life: parenting skills and support.

    Threats . Resources required : funding expertise etc.

  1. Community Services : Role of Non-profit Organizations

    Strengths . People : volunteers, community organizations

    . Generosity of the community

    . Seniors/retirees : education, experience and skills to offer

    Weaknesses . Aging population : can we4 meet needs? Lose active volunteers

    . Gap in meeting needs, lack of funding, lack of assessment of needs,

    Lack of coordination – identify NGO to work with

    . Lack of long range funding

    . Underestimating ( not aware of magnitude of ) needs of those in poverty

    Opportunities . Establish link or coordination with NGO

    . Community work by youth/students, get them into community service early enough,

    (not activists)

    . ” corporate giving has no place to but up”

    Threats . Government abandoning responsibilities and dumping onto NGO

  1. Youth

    Strengths . Youth : diverse, educated, with new skills, can help each other

    . Supportive community organizations : Boys clubs, Girls clubs etc.

    Weaknesses . Lack of social, cultural recreational facilities

    . Lack of training to large percentage of youth – access to employment

    . Lack of understanding and trust to our young people by general public

    . Involvement in drug abuse, thuggery

    . No programs and funding for supports to youth : counselling, healthcare

Etc.

. Lack of vision that recognises importance of youth to community future

Opportunities . Focus on community needs and sustainable development

. Establish funding for youth needs

. Link educational/training services and facilities to youth

. Take advantage of youth skills; technology, creative arts

. Match older workers with youth as mentors

. Increase focus on youth

Threats . Increasing gap between ” Haves and Have-nots “

. Increasing homeless among youth

  1. Seniors

    Strengths . People : friendly, cultured and diverse

    . Quality of life : natural, vibrancy of community, mid-class/low class, family

Life,

. Upholding cultures of the community

. Influential to community youth

Weaknesses . Lack of targeted facilities for recreation and leisure ; need seniors centre

. No comfortable permanent housing

. Contributions of seniors to community recognised and appreciated?

. Enough home care for the aged?

. Not enough or lack of coordination of information ; services, programs,

Cultural activities etc.

Opportunities . Take advantage of increasing number of seniors as an increasing base of

Potential volunteers for community groups and activities

. Use seniors expertise in consulting field.

Threats . Incidence of poverty among older seniors and particularly women

. Lack of access to healthcare

. Lack of long term focus/vision in the community

. What do we know about future of this demographic group

. Increased sense of loneliness among seniors as support networks weaken

Among families, friends, neighbourhoods.

  1. Housing

    Strengths . Land available for housing development

    . Own houses.

Weaknesses . Government still unwilling to give Kibra land back to Nubian community

. Lack of capital for affordable housing projects once title deed is obtained

. Lack of identification of partner from private sector to participate in housing project.

Opportunities . Form task force to develop strategy ready for implementation

. Build partnership with non-profit organisations to address issues concerning low

Cost households.

Threats . Slow approval process by the government of the Kibra land title is abarrier

. Unwillingness to give the land to the community.

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Nubian IDPs in Kenya

English: Nairobi (Kenya) Skyline from the city...
English: Nairobi (Kenya) Skyline from the city center, 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Slum Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya.
English: Slum Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This blog is about the Nubians Internally Displaced Persons in Kibra, on the outskirt of Nairobi, Kenya.

Definition of IDP

Persons or group of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of, or in order to avoid the effect of armed conflict, situation of generalized violence.

Nubians occupied Kibra, a 4000 acre piece of land on the outskirt of Nairobi – the capitol city of Kenya since mid 19th century. Nairobi was not the capitol city at the time. The land was given as a gift to the Sudanese soldiers who were brought to Kenya by the then British colonial government.

However, lack of security of tenure for the Kibra land has been used to push them away from their surveyed plots to give way to ‘ sputtering ‘ housing upgrading projects that have hardly benefited the Nubian community, as majority of them became landless and homeless.

These demolitions and evictions took place between 1968 and 2001, to give way to the following development projects:

. Jamhuri estate in 1968

. Otiende estate        1968 – 1979

. Salama and Fort Jesus     1963 – 1969

. Olympic estate  1968

. Ayany  estate  1977 – 1980

Persons displaced by development projects have special needs precisely because of their displacement. They may require special protection in cases where they are forcibly displaced without resettlement, compensation or respect for human rights. This is true whether they are in camps or merged into urban slums. This is true in the case of the displaced Nubians in Kibra.

Writing this article was never meant for making money. However,  the donation will help me cover my blogging expenses in the long journey I intend to make advocating for the reforms of the marginalized minority, and engaging in community matters.

Donation can be made via PayPal using the button below.   

 

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Nubians Kibra Life – Past and Present

 

In the 19th century, the British established the British East Africa territory which comprised the land which sits astride the equator, which is today’s Kenya.

English: A Ten Cent and One Cent British East ...
English: A Ten Cent and One Cent British East Africa piece from 1952(10) and 1924 (1). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To be able to settle in these new found territories, the British brought with them soldiers from other parts of the world, which included soldiers from the Sudan. This was done to ensure their security. And these soldiers later fought alongside the British army in the first
se soldiers were a formidable force and and second world wars.
These Sudanese soldiers were the spine of the early British army in this part of the world.
The Sudanese soldiers mentioned above were the Nubians settled in a military reserve in Kibra, which is located on the outskirts of the city of Nairobi, after conscription from the British army.
The Kibra land was a gift to the Sudanese soldiers in recognition to their distinguished service.

What kind of life did the Nubians live?

The first Nubians who settled in Kibra lived a communal life similar to the medieval village life. A village life consisting of a population comprised mostly of farmers, houses, barns, sheds and animal pens, clustered around. This was surrounded by ploughed fields and pastures.
This village was a home for the Nubians. Most were born, toiled, married, had children and died within the village. Most rarely venturing beyond its boundaries.
The Nubians had their own language, dress code, cuisine, ceremonies, ( birth, circumcision, wedding, etc ), dances, arts and artifacts.
The typical Nubian house architecture featured four bedrooms, a visitor room, a large sitting room, with large windows overlooking flower/tree gardens on the outside. The kitchen was located on one side at the back, while the bathrooms and pit latrines were on the other.
The houses were built with poles and wooden planks and frames bought from forest owners around Kibra.
The roofs of the houses were made from flattened oil tins and oil drums, (typically 20 lt kerosene containers were used in those days).
The walls of these houses were made of mud, and cow dung collected from the livestock keepers around. The wall finishing was so smooth that it had the appearance of cement plaster. These walls were often patterned with flower paintings that made them very attractive. Some of those houses, over 90 years old, are still standing there today.
Vegetable gardens and farms for other crops and livestock were developed further away from the main house.

Recreational facilities.

Kibra had enough recreational facilities, particularly playing grounds for children. These grounds were also used for wedding ceremonies and other communal activities. For indoor activities a central hall was built in the centre of the village, which was also used as a cinema.

Post independence life.

Life in Kibra changed gradually after Kenya attained independence in 1963 from outside influences. New comers from outside Kibra for economic and political reasons. By 1980s and 1990s, the number of outsiders grew so big. The Nubians then became a small minority in the ratio 1 to 12.

Changes in sociocultural environment.

The big inflow of outsiders in Kibra had a bad effect. It is known that social and cultural influences cause changes in attitudes, beliefs, norms, customs and lifestyle. Inability of the Nubians in Kibra to foresee changes in these areas and react timely was devastating.

Challenge facing the Nubians.

The biggest challenge now facing the Nubians of Kibra is whether the government of Kenya will honor the promise of giving the Kibra land ownership documentation.


Writing this article was never about making money. However, the donation I plead for is to help me cover my blogging expenses in the long journey I intend to make advocating for the reforms of the marginalized minority, and also in engaging in other community matters.

 Donation can be made via PayPal using the button below.

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The Voice of the Marginalized People

Marginalized people of Kibra

Kibra is an area on the outskirt of Nairobi, the capitol city of Kenya. This piece of land, measuring approximately 4100 acres was a reward given to the Nubian soldiers by the then British colonial government. The Nubian soldiers fought alongside the British army from the 19th century up to the two world wars of 1914 and 1945.
Although the politics of this country has changed Kibra to what it is now, the largest slum in Africa. The Nubians who live in Kibra, which is their home, are now a small minority in the ratio of 1 to 12, after their land was invaded by outsiders brought in by selfish politicians.

The Nubians still cherish and have passion for Kibra, even with the faint hope of obtaining the land ownership document from the government. And even as the number of poor and excluded people among the community is increasing rapidly.

Expression of Passion for Kibra
1. We all know that there is a great ‘passion’ among our community for out Kibra. People love the ambiance, the natural setting, the country side, the history, the heritage and much mote. These feelings have unfortunately been largely destroyed by the politics of this country.
2. There is a strong sense of community. We ate proud of ourselves, our community organizations and our neighborhoods.
3. There is a sense of entrenchment. As people say, ‘we all love progress, it is the change we hate’.
4. Nonetheless, we recognize the opportunity in pursuing fresh ideas/ attitudes. There is a desire to create a new vision, plan for the future and coordinate efforts across the community.
5. Too much focus on issues and weaknesses. We need to promote our strengths among ourselves. Then we will be better able to present our strengths to visitors and others outside our community.
6. There are specific issues that are foremost in our minds:
a. To unite our people so that we speak from same voice.
b. To get the ownership documents for the Kibra land.
c. To protect our quality of life and address the well being of our people.
7. There are strengths to build upon in the community and opportunities to pursue:
a. Coordinating the talents and energies of our people to achieve a common vision.
b. To promote our arts, culture, recreation and leisure
c. Heritage.
d. Under utilized resources
e. Honesty.
8. Our people are knowledgeable, experienced and brimming with interesting and innovative ideas. The challenge is to make good use of these valuable resources.

Donation

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.

 

 

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History of Kibra – The Home of the Marginalised Nubians

English: Kibera Slum in Nairobi Deutsch: Der S...
English: Kibera Slum in Nairobi Deutsch: Der Slum Kibera in Nairobi Polski: Kiberia – dzielnica slumsów w Nairobi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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.

 

 

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