The Nubian Community has experienced historical injustices linked to land ownership for a very long time. The community has been struggling with the recognition of land ownership for decades. Since their resettlement in Kibos in 1938, there has been no attempt by the state to guarantee them security. The Nubians arrived in Kenya during the colonial period and was settled by the British colonials near Kisumu airport but due to the expansion of the airport, they were resettled in Kibos. After independence, the Nubians were left under the care of Kenyan Government but their land rights since then have been violated. During their resettlement, the government came to the area in the name of building a research center (Kenyan agricultural research institute). The state through discussions with the community was allowed to construct the research center on the land. One of the conditions of peaceful coexistence was to have a hundred-meter distance between the railway and the community settlement area. The acceptance of the terms being an acknowledgement that the land belonged to the community.
On 7th February 2021, the 100 meters distance rule from the Kisumu railway in Kibos was abused by the Kenya railway following demolitions of the Nubian property and eviction of the residents in Kibos in the middle of the night. While the demolition of Kibos community was happening, the Kenya railways had been served with a court order following the filing of a certificate of urgency in the matter. The state yet again ignored court orders and proceeded with the demolitions. Following the demolitions, the displaced community camped in inhumane conditions on a swampy field in heavy rains. The forced eviction not only compromised their health, it also destroyed their livelihoods and constitutes a violation of human rights including the right to adequate housing. The issue of land rights in Kibos began when the government ‘assumed’ the distance stated of 100 meters from the railway line and went deeper into the settlement evicting the Nubians from their land rendering them homeless and displaced. A mosque was also desecrated in the illegal demolitions. On the second day of the demolitions, well wishers and community members came together to provide relief items for the community awaiting a legal way forward. On 10th February 2021, the ruling of the court proceedings on a petition filed by the legal team from Haki Jamii concerning the Kibos land evictions allowed the community to go back to their land pending hearing. The community also came together to construct temporary shelters for the community members.
Currently however those displaced are now camping in inhumane conditions on a swampy field with tents as their only form of shelter in heavy rains. This forced eviction not only compromises their health due to possible exposure to COVID-19 and other illnesses, it also destroyed their livelihoods and constitutes a violation of human rights including the right to adequate housing. The government is directly responsible for the inhumane conditions resulting from the illegal demolitions
The only possible long-term solution is
- To collectively fight against undue procedures in demolitions across the country. There has been a notorious trend by the state to ignore court order and carry out night demolitions especially in informal settlements and in communities with less priviledged Kenyans. The state must take the burden of responsibility to relocate the communities and issue them with a title deed before carrying out demolitions.
- The Nubian community in Kibos should be given their land back as well as being registered as a community in Kenya by nationality and not registration. Nubians constantly face violations of their citizenship and land rights and it is only proper that they finally be recognized as citizens and earn fair and equal treatment as is guaranteed to other Kenyans.
- Another solution is carrying out investigations and hold those responsible for accountable for the evictions and the death of the trapped child. There should be no room in office for state officers whose corruptible thirst led to the demolition of a mosque, the death of a child, and the blatant abuse of the constitution and the public office they occupy.
We wish to give a vote of that to the Kibos community for standing in the gap for the displaced community and giving them relief including tents, mattresses, blankets and food. And hopefully, soon have an end to illegal demolitions in the country.
(This article was compiled, and written by Anyier Chaat; International relations and security student at Daystar University and Noel Njiji; Project management student at Thika Technical Training Institute while interning at the Nubian Rights Forum)