George Muhia, 33; Interior Designer

Portrait of George Muhia

I live in Kiamaiko. I live in a single room alone. They are made of stones and iron sheet roofs. The area is populated. The ration was one plot to one family in the 70s but now it is six or seven families per plot. The area has water and electricity but those who cannot afford it create their own non-regulated lines.

I was born in Kosovo [Mathare]; my parents moved to Huruma for two years, then we moved to Kiamaiko. I moved to find my own space since the other places I lived in were cramped. When I had a child at 18 I moved to Kariobangi with my family. The mud house built from cartons on mud floors was not good for the child health-wise. I then moved to Mwiki to my parents but had to move to Kiamiaiko to access school easily. The cost of transport become higher so I sold my fridge to finance my mobility.

Our office - Kiamaiko Social Justice Centre - has received so many displacement cases as a result of infrastructural development like the one which resulted from the expansion of Juja Road. People have had to occupy road reserves, demolitions occurred. People demanded representation of their interests. So far some have been compensated.

George Muhia in front of a poster demanding lower prices

I lost property each time I moved; I had to live without appliances because I had to sell them to finance my movement.

My child’s mother had to drop out of school because she was underage when she got pregnant. She was also mentally and emotionally distressed. At some point we had to seek counselling.

Food prices have become unbearable due to inflation. A family cannot have three meals a day. I have three families to feed. Ksh 1000 cannot feed all those people yet people rarely even get that amount from their daily wages.

There has been a campaign #NjaaRevolution by Article 43 of the Social Justice Movement to demand for reduction of prices for basic commodities. There have been processions within the community and petitions to parliament and the Office of the president.

The Kenyan Peasant League has trained people to make kitchen gardens. People need to be trained in food systems advocacy from school. There should be cooperatives of small and medium farmers, and they should be trained in agro-ecology.

This testimony is part of the Dossier Urban Displacement. Forced Evictions: Stories from the Frontline in African Cities