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Uhuru dragged into row over Kibera deed

President Kenyatta has been drawn unwittingly into a row over title deeds for a city slum.

It was believed he would present deeds to Nubians who have lived in the sprawling Kibera slum for three generations since 1912.

The move would give Nubians ownership of around half the slum.

But the announcement that the President might present a communal title deed to the community, made by Cabinet Secretary for Land, Charity Ngilu, triggered outrage among some landlords who said it was unfair to issue the title to one community when Kibera was a multi-ethnic settlement.

Reward

On the other hand, the Nubians insist that Kibera is their ancestral home because they were settled there by the colonial government as a reward, they say, for fighting for Britain in the First World War.

The land they claim is 288 acres stretching from Makina to Nairobi Dam.

The President’s spokesman, Munyori Buku, this week termed as rumours reports that Mr Kenyatta would present the deed to formalise the transfer.

Mr Buku, who is the head of external communication and media at State House, added: “We do not know where the media got that story; the President was not scheduled to attend such a meeting.”

But he went on to say the President was keen on addressing the Kibera issue.

Groups meet at the slum’s Kamukunji grounds to discuss the land issue every Sunday afternoon.

Nairobi News attended one of the emotional meetings.

“There are only three reasons why men fight — over power, women, and land,” said one speaker who owns mud-walled houses in Gatwikira.

To the government, however, he is an illegal landlord who built on government land and is officially a squatter.

Ethnicity

Another speaker said: “Someone in government wants Kibera communities to fight each other. Let it be known we shall not accept to be divided along ethnic lines.”

In September, it emerged the government would allocate 288 acres to the Nubians as communal land.

The chairman of the Nubian Council of Elders, Mr Issa Abdul Faraj, said it was just a matter of time before they were given right to the land.

“Our soldier forefathers were given 4,197.9 acres of land in Kibra (Nubian for forest) which was gazzeted in 1932,” he said.

After Independence, however, the government declared Nubians to be foreigners and reclaimed all the land.

Later upcountry people allocated themselves chunks of the land and built rows of one-roomed houses on it, turning themselves into landlords. With time, chiefs gave themselves powers to allot the land for a fee.