BRAVE HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER IN FOCUS: Diana Nyakowa Angaya

Diana Nyakowa Angaya

HOUSING WARRIOR

“It has been a painful experience. Gangs of men armored with bulldozers repeatedly made surprise visits late in the night, forcing scores of people to flee for their lives. This has been my life for the last 32 years and that of dozens oothers who have lived in Deep Sea, an informal settlement in Nairobi.”

Diana Nyakowa  Angaya is a mother of four and a human right defender. She is one of the first residents of the slum located in the Westland’s suburbs. For the most part of her life as a resident there she has witnessed several forced evictions. The first demolition was on the 25th September 2005.

‘’They always come with hired thugs; the police armed with guns order us to leave to pave way for the road construction. In most incidences the evictors come with crude weapons and take away valuables like electronics. “

Since then she has lived in constant fear for what might become of her life and that of her family.

“After the demolition, we are always left out in the cold with our children. We usually don’t know what to do next. We just continued to sleep out in the cold and we are still suffering to date.’’

The horrific memories of attacks from the people meant to protect them was the driving force behind Diana’s ambition of becoming a human rights defender.

Through sessions conducted by Amnesty International, She has become more aware of legal rights and resettlement deals in unlawful evictions cases. She is also a member of the Rapid Response Team, a voluntary grassroots movement with over 1000 members that document and mobilizes against forced evictions in Nairobi.

“Through the movement, we made it clear to the government authorities such as Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) and The Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) that forced evictions is illegal under international law. Our lobbying and advocacy during the 2016 evictions saw the evicted return to their homes and proper consultations between authorities and residents. Over 200 residents of Deep Sea have been compensated for their properties lost during evictions. They are also in the process of acquiring a land where they can relocate us to.”

“A unifying voice allows victory and there is more power than division when people are united,” says Diane.

 

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