Brief History of Kibera

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Brief History of Kibera

Kibera is the largest informal settlement in East-Africa with an estimated population that is between 300,000 and 1 million. The name Kibera is derived from a Nubian word meaning forest. Kibera originated in 1918 as a Nubian soldier’s settlement in a forest outside of Nairobi, with plots allotted to soldiers as a reward for service in the First World War. Being that Kenya was colonized by the British government, the settlement grew primarily because of the Nubians status as former servants of the British crown.

Following Kenya’s independence in 1963, housing in Kibera was unfortunately rendered illegal by the government. But this new legislation inadvertently allowed the Nubians to rent out their property to a greater number of tenants than legally permitted and, for poorer tenants, Kibera was perceived as affordable despite the questionable legalities. Essentially, since the early 1970s landlords have rented out their property to a significantly greater number of tenants than legality permits. Since the tenants find the rates offered to be comparatively affordable, the number of residents in Kibera has increased accordingly despite its unauthorized nature.

Today, most of Kibera residents live in extreme poverty, earning less than one usd-dollar per day. Unemployment rates are high and persons living with HIV are many as AIDS cases has raised. There are few schools and most people cannot afford education for their children. Clean water is scarce. Diseases caused by poor hygiene are prevalent. A vast majority of citizens lack access to basic services, including electricity, running water and medical care. The neighborhoods are divided into several villages. Through it all – Kibera residents are the most loving and resilient people one could ever meet. No, they do not have all the things they need but what they do is unconditional love for each other and that can never be replaced or replicated.