Despair, pain, and confusion. This is what meets us as we visit City Carton in Lang’ata Constituency in Nairobi County. The informal settlement lies in the middle of the South C suburbs and its occupants are now the subject of an impending eviction.
At 53 years old Abishag Nyaga is among the older tenants of City Carton. Her age and wisdom are partly behind her street-name- Mama Kijiji. Her bravery in this badly planned shanty earns smiles from her when mentioned.
Peeking through a small rusty metal gate is Mama Kijiji as she’s known by her neighbors. She tries to say hello… But her voice is drowned by the noise from excavators and grinders constructing a road in their backyard. A backyard they didn’t know was, in fact, a road reserve up until they received a government notice.
Her voice speaks volumes of the suffering they, the ‘Carton’ people have been through.
“We have been intimidated severally and in many times goons sent to instill fear so that we can evict from this land. We have stood strong against these heinous human rights.”
About 700 people live in City Carton. A mix of characters you’d say. But all with one end goal- to hustle and feed their families.
Their woes started back in 2012. Homeless, forgotten and often brutalized by the same government they seek help from,
“I have been faced with myriads of challenges seeking justice for my community. Sometime in 2013 over 2000 young men were hired by unknown wealthy people to forcibly evict us from City Carton. They were paid Kshs.1000 per person and protected by over 100 police officers.”
However, she got wind of the attack. What happened next was a test of her human rights skills. For the meanwhile, she managed to resist the possible eviction of her people.
But this was short-lived. Two weeks later Abishag and her neighbors came under attacks. Their property worth thousands of shillings was destroyed.
“After demolitions, I approached Amnesty International Kenya where Naomi Barasa the Campaign Coordinator at the organization, came to our aid. She quickly organized campaigns and meetings with KURA officials something that has seen forced evictions put on halt and saw the birth of negotiations for a resettlement deal.”
A champion in her community now, she wears the Human Rights Defender badge.
“I have achieved a lot in demand for equal rights for all. I never thought that I could stand for my rights and face the authority with no fear or intimidations.”
She now hails sensitization sessions conducted by Amnesty Kenya. They have been instrumental in strengthening their knowledge and understanding of human rights, she says.
“I know my rights because I was informed by Amnesty International, I would request the organization to increase more sessions on human rights especially in informal settlements where poverty is criminalized and most human rights violations occur.”
“To my fellow Human Rights Defenders and right owners, Brave is Standing for rights against intimidation and threats. Use both local and international laws available to demand equal rights and treatment for all.”