Kenya: The Scramble for Kibera Slum

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Dong' says the majority of Nubians live in Kibera, with others scattered across the country in major towns.

"We are still growing in numbers. It is unfortunate that while the British settled Nubians in over 4,000 acres of land, we are now being offered 288 acres."

Human rights activist Felix Omondi, a member of the local lobby group Bunge la Wananchi (people's parliament) says that the stakes are high over the ownership of land in Kibera.

"It is prime land due to its proximity to Nairobi city. There are many vested interests in Kibera. Powerful investors are also interested. In September 2013, Lands Minister Charity Ngilu said that land in Kisumu Ndogo, Gatwekera, Laini Saba and Kianda has already been sold. Nobody knows who owns this land."

Omondi says that there are more questions than answers.

"Who sold this land, is it the government or the Nubians? Also, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has plans to evict Kibera residents who live close to Ngong River," said Omondi. "The Kenya-Uganda railway line cuts across the slum and with the recent December accident where a train lost control and smashed into some of the shanties, there are plans to demolish shanties close to the railway line."

Although a 2009 census reported 170,000 people living in Kibera, the Kibera Law Centre estimates there are over one million crammed into a space smaller than New York's Central Park.

Kibera's huge population makes its residents a vital constituency for politicians.

"A majority of them are the from the Luo community and have significant influence over the politics in Nairobi county," said Omondi. "The slum also provides ready-for-hire youths for political demonstrations and even violence was seen during the disputed 2007 presidential elections. There was a lot of violence and bloodshed in Kibera and none in the adjacent middle class homes."

Otieno says that the situation is so volatile that if not well handled, it could lead to bloodshed.

"People here are ready to fight for what is theirs," he said.

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