Sunday, January 19, 2014


The new face of social exclusion in Brazil, as management shuts an upscale mall because of a favela flash mob, known as a rolezinho. The first recent rolezinho was in Sao Paulo, and was mostly peaceful and fun. But The Guardian reports that subsequent gatherings have involved alleged robberies and an increasingly violent police response, including teargas, rubber bullets, and bashing local teenagers with clubs.

Brazil has, in recent years, reduced poverty, mostly through a system of cash payments known as the bolsa familia. Still, the elite and the authorities have got to understand that more must be done--including true social acceptance and integration. As one activist told the Guardian, "The movement aims to denounce inequality and open opportunities for the poor to come to places like this. It's not about stealing or destroying, it's about getting back to the idea of having fun."

Friday, January 03, 2014

who owns Kibera

IPS has posted a new article about tensions between the Nubians and people from other tribes about land in Kibera. But the article buries the real scandal.

Toward the bottom of the article, human rights activist Felix Omondi, of the group Bunge la Wananchi (the People's Parliament), tells the new service, "In September 2013, Lands Minister Charity Ngilu said that land in Kisumu Ndogo, Gatwekera, Laini Saba and Kianda [four of the 13 major neighborhoods of Kibera] has already been sold. Nobody knows who owns this land."

Indeed, when I was living there, ten years back, there were tales of sales to members of Parliament and their families and, certainly, many structures were owned by outsiders. And the Nubians, Kikuyus and Luos who lived in Kibera were contesting the space.

So what's new now? The IPS piece doesn't say.

Still, if there's going to be a deal about land in Kibera, it should have two principles. First, the land should wind up in the hands of the people who are truly living there. Not outsiders, certainly not the rich, and not those with historic claims who have either moved away or sold off their stakes. And second, everything should be done transparently, so the rumors of sales and outraged claims that "nobody knows who owns this land" will be gone forever.