That Day

20 Jan

Standing right in the middle of nowhere, “This is where my house used to be”  said Alice Anindo with her twin granddaughters sited under a shed she had built them. Alice explains to us what she was going through, we were here two  days ago when their shanty houses were being bulldozed, so we filmed it.

It was sad to see mothers run halter skelter with their kids and belongings trying to save whatever they could. They say the bulldozer surprised them because to them no demolition could take place before another court hearing was done. They were given about 30 minutes to remove their things from the houses  but this was not enough, some were destroyed, and those who had gone to work lost everything. There was a very heavy presence of police that they could not argue.

sorry I have never written a blog before, this will be my first time neither do I have a blog post account, I have just created one now. This blog comes a little bit late since I was still working on the Video, a 5 minutes video on you tube that I feel did not tell the whole story (Kibera Demolition Follow Up) so we had come back here to do a follow up after demolition.

With all this cold , Alice had spent her night here together with her two grands Lavin and Onion, Lavin appeared bigger than Onion but they were twins, their mother had died one year ago when they were just 6 months old.

Looking right at Alice’s eyes as she narrates to us, us here means Jacob, Steve  Ivy and I, I pitied her and I believe my colleagues must have too. How in my capacity was I going to help her? I thought. I only had Ksh. 50 in my pocket for my lunch, looking at us from a distance were two women, if I give Alice this Ksh. 50 to buy this kids something to eat, the people we were going to meet next will also expect something from us, so I held it, perhaps I can come back  and give it on our way out, I quickly decided, so whats your next plan? I asked, Alice did not have any plan even the cloths she was wearing  she had been given by a good Samaritan, a teacher who had been taking care of  Lavin and Onion when she was away looking for job. She had earlier made a call home so that they could send her some money that could take her back to her upcountry.

She washes two plastic cups and started to serve us with tea, the tea we found her preparing at least to make her grands warm, after along  cold night. No thanks, we said in unison as if we were thinking the same.

while still standing there, two men came so curious to know who we were and what we were doing there, then it dawned to me that many people here were on very high  alert on any possible donation that could be brought to them, unfortunately we had none.

my t-shirt reads TJRC KENYA this I guess made them open up and give us  a lot of information, the writings on my t-shirt sounded like we were a team set a side to investigate on the issue, we later learnt that the two men were Henry and Jofan and also interviewed them.

I wanted to do a stand -up but the area was too noisy with people removing their iron sheets from the demolished area since the government was already fencing the space and no one would no longer be allowed to be inside here. I had to wait for the noise to go down  since our flip camera captures alot of noise from the surroundings and we had no microphone, as I figured out on my stand -up my inner self reminded me  that I could also be a victim of such demolitions. I live in the western side of Kibera at a place called Raila Village 100m away from the newly built houses for slum upgrading process, I might not be a victim now because my area could be a among the last phase of demolition but a gain the truth is that the expansion of the by-pass road that passes through Kibera from Langata road to Narok could also evict us since our houses are a long that road. For a moment I put myself into their shoes, I was shaken, but I had to do my stand up anyway, I had to let the world know what was going on here, I also have to move from that place before the bulldozer acts on me, I strongly thought.

At this point we had met Steven Karioki, he showed us the court order that its ruling had allowed them to stay awaiting the final ruling on 17th Jan 2012. Perhaps this is where the confusion started , going through the paper, it had a list of names the (petitioners) all of who were land lords, the case was between these landlords and the

1. Office of the Attoney General

2. Ministry of Lands

3. Commissioner of Lands

but the demolition was ordered by the Ministry of Housing, were they not aware of the court order? the court order stated as follows:

1. That an injunction be and is hereby issued restraining the respondents, by themselves,their servants or agents from demolishing the homes of the applicants pending hearing on 17th Jan 2012.

2. That the application be served forthwith

3. That the petitioners do file their appeal with deliberate speed.

so who was to blame ? in our first interview during the demolition a woman was carrying the same copy of the court order which she said she showed to the OCPD  before the bulldozer could start its work, but the officer refused to look at it saying that he was operating with orders from  above. The land lords wants to be compensated for them to move, but the government argues that how can we pay you for having built in the government land and you have no tittle Deeds?

The sun was now getting harsh and harsher, checking the clock it was now 12noon, we had not gone to the Chiefs camp to get the map that explained how Soweto East was Subdivided into different zones. We were a bout to leave for the Chief’s camp when  we got information that some people had seek refuge inside a nearby church, something that we could not afford to miss, so we rushed there first, but before we go I was supposed to give Alice my Ksh. 50 to buy those kids something to eat, Steve also said he had  Ksh.50 with him so we gave her Ksh. 100, I later realized that Jacob had also given out the Ksh. 20 that he had.

We gave out this little money we had, not because she had given us interviews but because we sympathized her together with her two grand daughters who we found shivering after spending night in the cold. Out of all these people only a one Mr. Bokelo was so hopeful of being compensated, “however long it takes they will compensate us” he says. He is a land lord that had moved to the new houses built by the government but could still come back to collect rent from his tenants back in Soweto East.

Inside Maximum Miracle Church it was even worse all their belongings put on one side and people lying on one long line on the other  side of the church, we a gain saw a four months old baby that the mother had left lying outside the church compound , we were told that the mother had gone to fetch water that she could use to wash the babies clothes, she could have at least left the baby under someone’s care, may be everyone was so busy.

We did not want to spend much time here since it was already getting late, so we rushed to the Chief’s office where we hoped to get someone to interview from the governments point of view just to ensure that our story was balanced. Unfortunately there was a serious meeting going on with the area District Officer, it had just started and it was bound to take long, I was heading my team, so I had to go inside and request for someone to show us the map, how was I going to do this when everyone was so busy in the meeting? I gained courage and went, they all looked at me in a manner to suggest that “who the hell is this”  but there I was ready to explain myself.

The chair lady quickly ordered someone to come and attend me, I was successful, he took us to a different room and explained the map to us. When asked his name by Ivy Atieno, one of us from Voice of Kibera, he declined and said his name should be withheld, we wondered why, but we did not insist, the reason was best known to himself, so we were done, we had to go back to our office, time check 2.15pm, we were to go for KNN screening at 4pm the same day so we really had to rush back. On our way I was making a call to Eddie Juma one of the KNN members, I wanted to confirm if he had booked the video hall  for the screening as earlier agreed, he confirmed ok, in the office we found Joe who was also going to join us to the KNN screening, we thought Ivy would be too tired to join us but she came for the screening too.

At exactly 3.45pm we grabbed the dvd disk that we had burned our videos on and ran to meet Eddie Juma who was already waiting at the video hall. While watching the video on demolition the people of Gatwekera went silent, I believe they absorbed the massage the government had for them. Thanks to the Map Kibera Trust for giving us this platform to learn and experience a lot.


2 Responses to “That Day”

  1. Steve January 20, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

    Nice one Josh, keep it up. I love the way u were able 2 fix the photos to bring dat picture of how it was. I believe this blog explains what most people could not see in the video. It links up the missing parts. Which brings me the question, was it possible to share the link of the follow up at the end of the blog. Congratulations once again. It’s wonderfull.

  2. briellemimi July 12, 2012 at 8:48 am #

    Josh, I liked the way you related this woman’s plight to the potential threat to your own family’s home. Very personal testament to what a thoughtful person/journo you are.

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