15 May 2012

Kenya: Nubians in Court to Block Kibera's Slum Upgrading

Members of the Nubian community have blocked the planned slum upgrading and road construction projects in Kibera. They say the projects if allowed to go on will infringe on their constitutional rights on land ownership, adding that the community is faced with the danger losing its land in Kibera. In suit papers filed in a Nairobi court, the Nubians say despite the fact that they have inhabited Kibera for over 150 years, the government has failed to recognise their rights and issue them with title deeds.

They discrimination against the Nubian community has denied them the right to own private property and other benefits. They said their right to own land, which is enshrined in the constitution has been and continues to be violated by government, which has failed to issue them with titles. The consequences of these massive violations of the constitution have led to the community's disenfranchisement, exclusion and extreme poverty, it is argued.

Shafi Ali Hussein, Khadija Yunis Ali and Fatuma Abdulrahman, who filed the case on behalf of the community says lack of land ownership has caused them to be displaced from their homes without compensation since independence. The government, they said, has always treated squatters on the land and forcibly evicted at will for other developments.

Kenyan Nubians descended from the Nuba Mountains in what is now central Sudan. They were forcibly conscripted into the colonial British army in the early 1900s when Sudan was under British rule. As part of the King's African Rifles, a British colonial regiment, they were deployed throughout various parts of the then British East African including Kenya.

In 1904 British colonial authorities assigned Kibera to the Nubians to serve as their home. And in their suit papers the Nubians are saying by virtue of their culture and origin they are a marginalised group in Kenya. The government discriminates against them by refusing to provide them with any utilities or public service to Kibera because they are squatters, it is argued. This has left them to live in abject poverty and with little life prospects.

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