Monday, December 07, 2009

A new home in 1,178 years

That's how long it will take for all the residents of Kibera to receive new apartments in the current upgrading scheme if it continues at its current pace, Coastweek reports.

The article, by a reporter for the InterPress Service, also notes that the homes being built are actually shared apartments: two families sharing each two-bedroom apartment.

The article offers a sensitive portrayal of the complicated passions and position of the Nubians, Kibera's original residents, who have voiced some of the most vocal resistance to the UN's so-called upgrading project.

The Nubians were originally from North Africa and were conscripted into service in the British colonial armed forces. Ultimately settled in this valley on what was then the outskirts of Nairobi, documentary evidence suggests that the British government promised them title to at least some of the land on which they were living.

From the article:

The Nubian community has resisted moving into the new apartments and instead vowed to stay put in the informal structures until government gives them adequate compensation; the community is the most well-established in Kibera, with many families renting accommodation to other residents.

The Nubian community says they have never been consulted about the upgrade.

Yusuf Diab, secretary general of the Nubian Council of Elders, argues that the government and donors came into their community with a "know-it-all" approach and assumed all residents of Kibera live on less than a dollar a day and will eternally depend on handouts.

"We may live in this informal structures but that does not mean we do not have finances. We as a community stick to our culture of generations living together in one house. But this does not mean we are poor.

"If you come into our homes we have all the facilities that affluent people have and despite being informal we have enough room to accommodate our large families," he says.

He wonders how a household of up to five generations is expected to reside in one room sharing the toilet, bathroom and kitchen area with another family.

"This plan would turn us into government tenants for the rest of our lives."

No comments: