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Your fence says a lot about your socioeconomic class

By XN Iraki | Mar 31st 2021 | 2 min read
By XN Iraki | March 31st 2021
That fence around your house tells a lot about you [Alice Ariri Abuga]

I noted that fences are rare in the western part of Kenya compared with say central Kenya. I thought it was about land ownership. But even if one owns a piece of land in say Shamakhokho, it is unlikely to be fenced, and if fenced, with shrubs. I bet barbed wire business does very badly there. In central Kenya, land is fenced with barbed wire and other reinforcements. In Nairobi, we go beyond barbed wire into razor wire and stone blocks. In affluent suburbs, fences are often “live” with plants or hedges.

Fences, to a large extent, are a measure of trust. The regions without fences perhaps exhibit a high-level of trust. They believe in their neighbours, likely to be of help in times of need. They probably know them by name, know their children and their friends. They have time to chat during good and bad times. And they have nothing to hide. I am told fencing in that part of the country means you are mean and unwelcoming.

In urban areas, trust is rare. You have no time to know or visit your neighbour. They can get visitors from abroad but you will never get to his or her house. Probably a big fence separates you from neighbours. If you live in apartments a big wall of indifference separates you from them.  You have no interest in knowing them. Trying to know your neighbour is interpreted as “shaggz behaviour”.  The reason given for fences is rampant insecurity. But there is no evidence that leaving your house unfenced makes it insecure. 

In Rwanda and Western countries, high opaque fences are rare. Fences are often ornamental. But let us add that in these countries, there is very high trust in authorities. In case of an emergency, they will respond in a given time. If police can be in your house five minutes after calling, why fence?

Daniel Pondera, a Kenyan living across the Atlantic says this about fences at his homestead, “Front is open, backyard is fenced to stop neighbours’ dogs or pets from doing their business in our yards, plus stopping raccoons from accessing garbage bins.”

What can you say about your fence?

That fence around your house tells a lot about you, your level of trust and even your social-economic class. Is it a hedge, stone blocks, shrubs or inexistent?

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