Wednesday, August 11, 2010

let the dead bury the dead

How's this for life in South Africa's capital? A squatter community is using a slimy, algae-filled pond to wash their clothes, the Sowetan newspaper reports.
Jacob van Gardeneren, of Lawyers for Human Rights, said: "The surrounding neighbourhoods used typical excuses to justify their involvement in these evictions - such as that the informal settlement hosts criminals. The reality is that this informal settlement hosts their gardeners, domestic workers and construction workers, who are often paid so poorly they cannot afford to travel home every day."
The squatters are threatened with eviction because the land had been allocated for the expansion of a nearby cemetery. Thus the dead have more rights in life than the living.

1 comment:

Unknown said...


I am currently working during the summer with an NGO called Hakijamii, based in Nairobi. Hakijamii works with community groups in urban slums throughout the country.

One of its employees, Marcy Kadenyeka, recently discovered through a friend who had read Shadow Cities that you mention her on p. 279 in an unflattering and untrue light.

The excerpt is: "Everyone- even the good people like my friends Mercy Kadenyeka and Nicodemus Mutemi- were periodocially seduced by the idea that they could get rich by starting a nonprofit. The income seems to come first, the doing good is secondary."

Of course Marcy (not Mercy, but the last name is the same) was devastated when she heard about this. In fact, she told me, she had very little contact with you and has no idea why you decided to include her name in such a demeaning and uncalled for statement. The person who told her about it works for a local organization and was wondering why she was saying such terrible things about Kibera. Think of what that could do to her career and reputation as a human rights activist.

Needless to say, something needs to be done. She is open to dialogue with you if you want to talk to her. She has requested that I give you her e-mail: and you may also e-mail me at if you want to discuss this.

The irony of this is that if anyone in the entire country of Kenya cares more about doing good and less about money, it is Marcy. I am sorry that you were so mistaken in your book about her. If you would like to understand who she really is, please read my blog entry, at