KIBOS LAND EVICTIONS – THE HISTORY OF NUBIANS IN KIBOS

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)

 

PURSUING MY DREAMS ABROAD AFTER DOCUMENTATION.

The Nubian Rights Forum has a competent outreach program where our paralegals give back to the community by educating them and creating awareness on citizenship, specifically registration and documentation. One of the awareness activities includes a conversational session where they educate the clients about identification cards, the benefits of documentation, benefits of documentation and finally inquiring if the target client has an identity card.

Today through our outreach program we discuss a success story. The story of Yusuf Ali, a young man hailing from Kibera in his early 20’s. One of our paralegals Annette Opiyo met with Yusuf during a field outreach, in 2017 at a car wash point where he worked. When asked how he got the job, he let our paralegal know that the car wash was an initiative that helped with youth empowerment in the community. During their conversation with our paralegal, once he understood the reason of the outreach program, he opened up about his struggles to get documentation. Yusuf had challenges acquiring an identity card because he lacked several documents including a school leaving certificate and his parents’ supporting documents. Due to the lack of documents and the lack of a representative to guide him he had a challenge getting past the vetting committee who told were not obliged to listen to him unless he had all documents. After three application attempts with no lack, Yusuf completely gave up on the process citing the lack of clarity from the duty bearers on what he needed to carry with him. The process of acquiring an identification card can be challenging especially if the duty bearers do not take responsibility in creating awareness on the required documents for registration and he listed it as a reason as to why many youths stop searching for their Identity cards.

The complexity of Yusuf’s case stemmed from the fact that lack of documentation had prevented him from pursuing his dreams after finishing his basic education. Yusuf’s aspirations were to move abroad, to Saudi Arabia in search of greener pasture or to pursue tertiary education in college. However, without documentation he shelved his dreams and instead worked as a car washer. Yusuf’s case is an example of the limitations to youth empowerment especially for minority communities, marginalized groups and youth in informal settlements. His story highlights the need for community sensitization on the registration process and a continuous dedication to making sure citizens are aware of their rights and due procedures in documentation.

We picked up Yusuf’s case because we believe we could provide direction in getting him documentation. After the outreach, our paralegal Annette took his details and later called him to the office for follow up. The second challenge with his case was that Yusuf did not have access to a phone and we had to rely on communication through a third party. He could not invest in a mobile device because he would need an identity card to sign up. As a representative, Annette walked him through the process beginning with a consultation with the chief to help him get a letter to take to his former school so that his result slip be released. While the process was unsuccessful at first because we could not get the chief to meet us, we finally got a hold of the result slip after joint efforts with other paralegals. Yusuf, due to earlier discouragement did not believe that we would be successful but he kept on showing up. With the result slip we went back to the chief’s camp for the elder’s vetting but he was again turned away and asked for more supporting documents to get a green light for the national vetting. This was another hurdle for Yusuf who was a total orphan and did not know how to get his parent’s death certificates. An alternative was asking Yusuf to come to the office with a legal guardian who would swear an affidavit that s/he knows Yusuf and would let us use their documents for supporting documents. A distant uncle agreed to help, and he passed the elder’s vetting and was booked for national vetting. During the national vetting, the committee doubted his age that is 20years and they did not approve him applying until an age assessment was done. At this point, Yusuf felt the need to discontinue the process because of the constant rejections, but we felt it prudent to proceed to the end considering his aspirations were on condition of him acquiring documentation. The age assessment gave an approximation of 18-20 years. We went back to the elders and a national vetting date was booked. He finally passed the national vetting and applied for the identity card and was given a waiting card. He finally got his identification after three months, and was later able to apply for a birth certificate. Yusuf is currently abroad pursuing greener pastures. We are glad he finally got documented and is pursuing his dreams.

 

ONE ITEM OFF THE DOCUMENTATION CHECKLIST

Recently, we took time to listen to one of our clients, Hamisi, who applied for his Identity Card and got it in December. The following is his story, and we wind up with his progress post-documentation

 

Meet Abdulrahim Hamisi, now a recognized Kenyan citizen, with documentation. At 20 years old, Hamisi makes a living through selling towels. Hamisi wanted to apply for an ID because he wanted to prove he was Kenyan and he considered the future and issues such as marriage, child birth certificate and getting work was fully dependent on him getting his identification.

He began applying for his Identification in August 2019. When Hamisi came to Nubian Rights Forum, he was assisted by our paralegals, specifically Omar Hamisi. He began applying for his Birth certificate in 2019, which is hard considering his age. After minimal delays, he finally managed to get it in 2020. When he began applying for his ID he faced a few challenges because due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some offices were unoccupied. During the ID application process, he was also sent back as he did not have his parents documents and therefore it he was sent back to collect the IDs and fill forms.

In his opinion, the constant back and forth in the registration offices was tiresome, at least if it was clear to citizens what was necessary during identification and documentation, then there would be a lot of improvement on time management. The issues of laxity in government offices also needed to be solved especially following of time regulations and serving citizens especially in giving instructions or information on the needed documents on time. Hamisi felt the impact of the difference in treatment for people from different ethnic groups especially requests for extra documents and the vetting process. While they government may find it necessary, it important they also consider factors such as tertiary education, employment opportunities and harassment from the police that people  without documentation are subjected to. The COVID-19 pandemic also proved challenging as it delayed the whole process, however, this can be a learning point for offices on how to be ready for emergency situations.

While his documentation journey was extremely short, the key lesson he learnt was to be patient, and not giving up especially when one knows their nationality is legitimate. He also emphasized it is important to seek the documents early to avoid cases of questioning on the delays in acquiring the documents. We look forward to hearing more of such success stories.

 

 

 

 

 

please seek these documents early, they are extremely important, yet stressful to acquire when you are older (Hamisi, makes a living selling towels at Toi Market)

 

Post – documentation

After getting his Identity card in December, Hamisi had managed to register for a simcard using his own identification and will no longer have to rely on his sister for help. He has begun his passport application, and soon, he hopes to open a bank account where he can make smart, and strategic financial decisions. From Hamisi’s journey, it is clear just how much documentation opens academic, financial and social doors for an individual. He can now pursue anything he wants without the fearing the outcome for lack of documentation.

(Photography credits – Omar Hamisi)

I CAN NOW WALK WITHOUT FEAR OF BEING HARRASSED – #MYIDJOURNEY

There is a scare that every Kenyan at risk of statelessness faces when trying to get documented especially when one lacks support from duty bearers. However, NRF maintains the responsibility of helping community members get documented through its paralegal team. At 25 years old, Ali Kioko is now a proud documented Kenyan citizen. His is a journey of patience and success in acquiring documentation, having tried to apply for four years, his dream finally came true, and for him, this is just the beginning.

Ali hails from Lindi in Kibera. He is a firstborn, and was raised by his grandmother who passed away in 2017. His mother passed away earlier on, and the identity of his father remains unknown. Ali began applying for his Identification card on his own in 2016, and every attempt was unsuccessful because he lacked some documents necessary for vetting and adequate information on what was necessary for registration and vetting. He was constantly rejected. He once made it for vetting, but his process was unsuccessful.

Ali was later referred to the Nubian Rights Forum in 2020 where he talked with our paralegal Makah Yusuf who helped him. Ali began the process of getting some mandatory documents. Ali knew that he was born in the hospital and the first step was guiding him on how to get his hospital notification card, we also told him to look for one of his relatives who would stand in as his guardian then we could restart the whole application process again.

He got his Birth notification and clinic card from Pumwani hospital where he was born after presenting a copy of his mother’s copy of identification. When he gathered all the required documents, our legal office assisted with drafting for his uncle an affidavit as his guardian, he submitted it to the court for commissioning. The mosque wrote for him a letter confirming that the mother and grandmother died and were both buried at the Muslim cemetery. We started his application process on 12th July 2020, he was told to submit his application forms to the registrar on 16th July 2020 when he’ll be booked and given the national vetting date. His application documents included:

Hospital birth notification/ clinic card, Imam’s letter, Primary leaving certificate, Uncle’s ID card, Uncle’s sworn affidavit, Chief’s letter

On 16th July 2020 he submitted his documents to the registrar and he was booked to attend the national vetting on 8th October 2020, on this date he was accompanied by his uncle who stood in place of his guardian to the registration’s office for the national vetting. He passed and both their thumb prints and his picture were taken, he then proceeded to filling the application forms and was issued with a waiting card. On 8th January 2021 he finally got is identification card and now hopes to apply for driving and get a driving license, get his birth certificate, as well as a passport. With efficient communication, and the minimum required documents his process became easier after years of getting rejected.

(My advice to everyone out there is to be patient, get what you want, do not stop until you do. Do not gamble with documentation, it’s the only way you can help identify yourself. – (Ali Kioko, 25)

 

There were a few challenges he faced in his application process, the biggest stumbling block being COVID-19. The pandemic threw most offices off balance and therefore it ended up taking him more months to get vetted and documented. While the issues are not fully sorted, it is good some progress to resume normalcy is being witnessed. Ali is happy that he can now walk without fear of being accosted or harassed by the police. He also believes having an identification card will open opportunities for him to earn a living. Now, he can enjoy a lot of transactions that seemed a privilege for those with identification cards; such as transacting mobile money, owning a phone and registering his number, and seeking employment. We wish Ali all the best in his endeavors, and hope we can share more positive stories of citizens who finally got documented with the aid of our paralegals.