when the promised land isint all promising

It was a journey reminiscent of the Israelites leaving Egypt for the Promised Land.

On that dusty September afternoon, last year, residents like Ruth Njeri left their mud hovels in the sprawling Kibera slum, and took a 20-minute ride to their ‘paradise’, where more than 300 little palaces awaited them.


The relocation was the first in the slum, and part of a series of slum upgrading projects in the country that are hoped to phase out informal settlements.

The Kibera high-rise flats dwarf some of the shacks residents moved from. Photo: Evans Habil/Standard

Although months have passed since that exciting afternoon for Njeri and dozens others who left their shacks for high-rise flats, an aura of nostalgia still hangs thickly over the new estate.

Njeri’s nostalgia has nothing to do with the surroundings of her former home, which was often awash with rivulets of sewage, rubbish heaps and muddy alleys. It is the camaraderie she once shared with her neighbours in the slum, that she misses most.

“I miss my old friends,” she says.

Sharing house

For Njeri, life in the new flats has been smooth but coupled with the challenges of adjusting to an ‘unfriendly’ environment.

The married woman, in her mid 30s, says she is yet to get used to sharing a house with people she can hardly get along with.

Njeri isn’t alone in the predicament. Other residents also find it hard to live with what they describe as ‘unfriendly housemates’, with whom they have to share facilities like kitchen and bathrooms.

Besides unfriendly housemates, a closer look at the flats reveal a life that is different from the once rosy picture etched onto the minds of the occupants earlier on. More than six months down the line, some flats are yet to be supplied with electricity… Read more

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