Last week, when bulldozers rolled into parts of Kibera, sub-Saharan Africa’s largest slum, many residents were still in their homes. Citizen journalists who run a news outlet covering the slum filmed the aftermath of the destruction, and interviewed the newly homeless.
Located near the heart of the capital, Kibera is a vast expanse of cramped ramshackle houses with rusted, corrugated tin roofs. Detritus litters the muddy byways, and basic services are lacking in some areas. Estimates put Kibera’s population anywhere between 170,000 and one million people.
This report, filmed by the citizen journalists of Kibera News Network, shows the demolition of Soweto East.
This report was filmed by Kibera News Network two days after the demolition of Soweto East.
“Many of the residents were caught by surprise”
Josh Owino is an editor at the Kibera News Network, a non-profit citizen journalism programme that reports on news coming out of Kibera. KNN is a part of the community project Map Kibera.
The demolition of Soweto East in Kibera was part of the Kenya Slum Upgrading Programme. When the authorities issued a warning that the land was to be razed, several of the neighbourhood’s residents decided to protest. They took the case to court, and the demolition was postponed until after the final hearing, which was scheduled to be held on January 17.
On January 12, the neighbourhood was torn down, despite the postponement. They just went ahead and did it. An estimated 5,000 people were affected. Many of the residents were caught by surprise.
“Some are sleeping by the side of the road; others are camped out in churches”
Although the government constructed housing for residents in Soweto East, not every one has chosen to relocate there. Many of the people who were already renting from ‘landlords’ moved in, but it’s much more expensive. In Soweto East, they were paying maybe 300 to 500 shillings [2.70 euros to 4.50 euros] per month for housing. In the new homes, they pay a total of 1,000 shillings [9 euros] per month. But they’re good houses, and the rent is subsidised by the government. The same homes at market value would cost about 3,000 shillings [27 euros] per month.
Those who chose not to live in the new housing were people who believed they owned their homes in Soweto East. They now demand to be compensated for what they lost in the demolition. They’ve asked the government to give them new land to build on. The government has said no, because the homes that were destroyed in Soweto East were on public land, and legally the ‘landowners’ had no right to build there in the first place. But there are people who have got no place to go. Some are sleeping by the side of the road; others are camped out in churches; while others still sleep at friends’ homes. It’s difficult to find a new place to live because there aren’t enough homes to meet demand right now.”