A home for the excluded? A study about identity and belonging in Kibera slum

University essay from Lunds universitet/Institutionen för kulturgeografi och ekonomisk geografi

Abstract: With increasing migration to urban areas, Kenya is a country in change with new and challenging problems. Nairobi has a high population growth but a far from equal socio-economic development. As Nairobi continues to grow, so do the slum areas within the city and the slum Kibera has grown to be one of the largest in Africa. Due to the large economic differences within Nairobi I suggest that some people might feel excluded from parts of the city. My main aim has been to see if this is the case for people living in Kibera and if they identify themselves in relation to the area. I have also a focus on how feelings of belonging within Kibera are created and if different ethnicity, religion and HIV divide people in the slum. Through a qualitative case study, interviewing 14 women from Kibera, I have a focus on how people within the slum experience different situations and places. Through a theoretical framework centred on concepts such as identity, place and belonging I have found that an exclusion from the wider social life of Nairobi is evident. The women feel that they do not belong in the city and that they are portrayed as the poor people. On the other hand, people in Kibera come together and unite. I argue that a cosmopolitan neighbourliness exists within the slum; openness to others is produced in order to create a home in the exclusionary Nairobi. At the same time violence occur in the slum and an exclusion of some ethnicities and people living with HIV is visible. Cosmopolitan neighbourliness is clearly fragile but at the same time necessary for feelings of belonging in Kibera.

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