African slum stories and their exceptional life changes

Fig 1: A part of Ajegunle slum in Lagos Source: Google Image

From Kiberia in Kenya to Mombasa in Uganda to Otumara in Lagos: these are communities with the same degrading characteristics such as open sewers, lack of access to piped water, no/bad roads where existent, lack of adequate educational facilities and health care centers.

Kennedy Odede ‘Inspired by a book’

Co- author of his beautiful book about slums ‘Find me Unafraid’ Kennedy Odede tells his story about how he survived living in the biggest slum in Africa situated in Kiberia, Kenya; the challenges and promises.

Halima Mohammed “We can change Kenya”

This was a statement made by a fifteen year old female teenager part of a group called 'Mashujaa', a Swahili word for "heroes in Kiberia, Kenya. The problem started from the girls inability to buy sanitary pads while menstruating which led to the setting up of the above named group.

‘A case of fire…….bulldozers and fire’

"International law is clear: there must be consultation with the affected community, all alternative options to eviction must be explored, and a resettlement plan must be in place should the evictions be carried out." This was a statement made by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on adequate housing and quoted by Juliet S. Sorensen; a professor of International law at the University Of Northwestern Pritzker School Of Law in her article ‘Lagos is Burning’. The article highlights the unlawful demolition of buildings and the infringement of rights of the people in the Otodo-Gbame slum in Lagos state. The demolition of Otodo Gbame without notice and in violation of a court order is demonstrative of a government that disregards national laws. Emphasizing the derelict structures and environment found in the slum; she addressed the concept of the Smart Cities initiative by the United Nations, which mentions sustainable housing and enhancing quality of life as key essentials of today's city environment. Potable water and a reliable source of electricity, both of which are in short supply in Lagos – a 21st-century mega-city must provide due process of law, where its citizens are notified and compensated if the government takes their land; where there is a remedy for violation of a court order; and where a mass of humanity isn't forced from their burning homes, then abandoned by the government who burned them.

“These ruthless forced evictions are just the most recent examples of a practice that has been going on in Nigeria for over a decade in complete defiance of international law,” said Osai Ojigho, Amnesty International Nigeria’s Country Director.

Renata De Souza, Researcher/Adviser on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights at Amnesty International

More than 100 million people are currently homeless worldwide, according to a UN estimate. This staggering figure demonstrates the failures of governments across the world to protect human rights and ensure the most basic needs of their populations are met.

‘Slums are razed to make way for luxury properties’- All Nigerians have rights…on paper

‘The poor are relentlessly subjugated while the ruling class inhabits a world of privilege. It is not only morally wrong, it’s economically unsustainable’ This was a statement made by Remi Adekoya of Guardian Newspaper on the 14th of April, 2017 about the unlawful demolition, eviction and chasing off of Nigerians living in Otodo-Gbame; a riverbank community in Lagos. This destruction and eviction were carried out against court injunctions


‘They are also entitled to befitting areas….build them’

The Lagos State High Court In January of 2017 spelled out the rights of slum dwellers in an injunction that found the Lagos State government's practice of forced evictions "inhuman, cruel and degrading" This treatment was enunciated as being incompatible with Nigerian and international human rights law. The court put a stay on future evictions and initiated a process to mediate some kind of agreement between residents and the government.

This is a counter narrative by the Lagos State High court….SAY YOURS!

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