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Nobody can wish away Nubian land question

By | June 7th 2010

By Ismail Ramadhan

Over the years, The Standard has positively highlighted different aspects of the plight and cultural heritage of the Nubians (September 5, 1968; October, 1995; April 18, 1996) and your latest contribution in your issue of, May 27.

One issue the feature Endless agitation for land by Nubians exposed, is the perennial insincere, dishonest, and manipulative posturing that has characterised the relationship between this community on the one hand and the political class and bureaucrats on the other.

Hopes and promises given for security of tenure for a piece of land in Kibera to be allocated to the Nubian community have been rising and falling in tandem with the country’s electoral cycle driven by the political elite and perfected by their bureaucrats.

Any time these three parties meet, particularly around election times, Nubians’ views would be patiently and studiously heard and appropriate positive responses given to their genuine complaints, thereby raising their hopes.

But when points arising from such sittings are followed up with the bureaucrats, no tangible or conclusive results are ever forthcoming.

You quote what Deputy Lands Commissioner, Peter Kahuho, had to say, when the reported presidential directive and outcome of another meeting between the Nubians and the PM (and Minister of Lands and officials) at his office about two months ago were being followed up.

This was typical of how this community is being taken round in circles with different players at different times since their forefathers first settled in Kibera over a century ago.


Statements by Kahuho are unfortunate. It is on record that Physical Planning officials working under their then Director from the Ministry of Lands undertook the exercise of demarcation and data collection Kahuro referred to, in conjunction with the Provincial Administration and officials from Kibra Land Committee between December 2000 and May, 2002.

Data was collected on the structures and people in the area earmarked for issuance of Community Land Trust for the Nubian community by surveyors, clerks, and security provided by provincial administration. The exercise was guided by the "Existing Kibra Nubian Village" plan produced by the Ministry of Lands. On July 5, 2002, the then Minister for Lands and Settlement, Noah Katana Ngala signed a Certificate of Incorporation under The Trustee (Perpetual Succession) Act registering 13 Nubian trustees of "The Kibra Land Committee Community Trust."

All these documents and information should be available at the Ministry of Lands. Furthermore, the cost associated with the land demarcation and data collection was shared between the Government and the Nubian community through Kibra Land Committee.

Is Kahuho suggesting that all these efforts and incurred costs were in vain? How could the community contribution be written off without accountability and expected benefits realised? How many times should claims of others be met before even considering those of the Nubians? Is this not the merry-go-round Nubians have been subjected to over the years?

And it is not just during the post-Independence period that this kind of drama is being played out on the Nubians. On September 22, 1960, the colonial government, through the then Ministry of Housing, issued ‘The Legal Position of The Land At Kibera’ following the Carter Land Commission Report of 1953. Item 7 of the legal position stated that:- "...Government recognises that it has a moral obligation to the residents of long standing at Kibera, especially those ex-askaris of the King’s African Rifles (Nubians) who were issued with permits to live there by the military authorities, and it has no intention or desire to move them from Kibera."

The idea of upgrading the Kibera settlement to a modern standard sprang from this position but the manner in which projects to translate this idea into reality were carried out, through inhibitive allocation criteria and favouritism, left the Nubians exposed to the manipulation of those with vested economic and political interest in Kibera.

The projects came in the form of several biased government-sponsored pilot housing schemes (Salama, Jamhuri, Fort Jesus, Olympic, Ngei, Ayany estates, etc) that hived a good portion of the original 4,197 acres Nubians occupied and ended up marginalising and concentrating them into the present Kibera Slum, ignored their agitation for security of tenure for Kibera land, and never achieved the expected roll-out phase that would have avoided the slum status that Kibera has now assumed.

The Government has the moral, social and legal obligation and responsibility to be sincere in its dealings with the Nubian leadership and community to avoid speculation and possible misrepresentation of issues.

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Last week, it was Education Assistant Minister Ayiecho Olweny rounding on parents and teachers in Minister Anyang Nyong’o’s constituency during an Education Day fete, since only two KCPE candidates from the area joined national schools last year.