In between homes – the in-between existence of refugees in transit in Eastleigh, Nairobi, by Lena Johansson (master student at Uppsala University)


Eastleigh shop in 2009 soon after Obama became US president. Photo by Mats Utas

Eastleigh, Nairobi is pictured as a good area for Somali refugees in media and in UNHCR reports. The migrant Somali population in Eastleigh has developed trade networks and made it a commercial area with major significance not only in East Africa but also globally. According to a report from 2012, by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) and UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees), asylum seekers and refugees are surprisingly independent and integrated into the socio-economic life in Nairobi. The estate is considered a good area for refugees because of possibilities to socio-economic activities and according to the report, the profile of Eastleigh refugees is “one of incredible resilience and ability to survive in the face of significant odds” (UNHCR 2012). Continue reading

Beyond the Façade and what Operation Usalama watch exposes about the war on Terror in Kenya, by Hawa Noor

Kenya has witnessed series of terrorist attacks since the year 2011 when its soldiers began operation in Somalia dubbed: Operation Linda Nchi (Operation protect the nation). The most recent attacks, was the Likoni church attack on March 23rd 2014 and in Nairobi’s Eastleigh estate on March 31st 2014 – each of which left behind 6 casualties. The Alshabaab has not claimed responsibility in any of them but following that, the government launched Operation Usalama Watch (Operation Peace Watch) on April 2 in a bid to alleviate the threat of terrorism from the country once and for all.

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Introducing Malitia Malimob: Rap music and the less glamorous stories of African migration to the United States (Guest post by Boima Tucker)

The new “Africa Rising” narrative propagated largely by a globally-connected middle and upper class diaspora, often obscures the grittier stories of the African immigrant experience. This is partly due to an instinct among African immigrants to want to counter the history of one-dimensional and negative portrayals of both Africa and immigrants in the mainstream Western media. While it’s understandable that they’d want to shy away from being associated with crime, fraud, war, lack of employment, social welfare, or some other scourge that the West associates with immigrants and Africa, the struggle that most Africans immigrants go through is real, and sometimes the less glamorous stories of global migration are the ones that most need to be told: Continue reading

The Kenyan 2013 elections: some preliminary observations, by Anders Sjögren

After five days of waiting following the general Kenyan elections which took place on 4th March 2013, the Chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Isaak Hassan, on the 9th March declared Uhuru Kenyatta of the Jubilee Alliance the winner and President elect. According to IEBC figures, Uhuru got 50,07 % of the votes – just slightly more than 4000 votes above the threshold of the required simple majority. Contrary to repeatedly stated fears, these elections were by and large free from violence. Thus, there was no repeat of January 2008. The process however did invoke strong memories of December 2007 – this was another failed election.

A few hours after the declaration of Uhuru as the winner, his closest competitor, Raila Odinga of the Coalition for Reform and Democracy (CORD) gave a speech in which he rejected the results, due to various forms of alleged vote rigging. CORD will now take its complaints to the Supreme Court, which has fourteen days to reach a decision. Until the Court has pronounced itself, it is probably wise to be careful in analysing the results, as the authenticity of this is uncertain. However, even preliminary observations suggest that this was a poorly organised and managed election. Not only did the tallying process suffer from major technical and administrative failures, there are also strong indications of quite a number of irregularities and breaking of electoral laws.

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In a wealthy suburb of Nairobi there is a nightclub called Casablanca. It is owned by an Italian (probably part of what is called the Malindi mob), decorated in Arabic style and has a crowd of western businessmen, aid workers, some wealthy locals and high class prostitutes. In a corner, puffing on their water pipes, drinking an occasional beer, there is a crowd of young Somali men, some working for the current government in Somalia, some doing lucrative business in the war thorn country and others supporting the radical Islamist rebel group al Shabaab. They visit the place quite frequently and they feel at home they say, because the combination of crowd and environment resembles the countries where they grew up in Europe, North America or Australasia. There is a huge fellow who used to be a real talent in ice hockey until the day that he could no longer stand the fact that Somalia was going from bad to worse and he simply threw away his national passport and went back to a Somalia that he only knew from tales from relatives and through the catastrophic images in media. Naturally, due to his comprehensible size, he has since been hired as body guard to politicians and other strongmen in Mogadishu and elsewhere in the country. Currently he is looking for a new job and in the mean time hanging out with likeminded friends at Casablanca. Likeminded; yet some of them support the, in the West (but also in Kenya), much feared al Shabaab. Continue reading

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