BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 January 2008, 20:30 GMT
Kibera residents wary of ethnic politics
By Noel Mwakugu
BBC News, Kibera

Burnt-out market
Kibera's markets were targeted in the violence
Anne Wairimu stands guard over the small portion of land at the famous Toy market in Kenya's Kibera slum, where her second-hand clothes stall once stood.

As the wind blows the ashes of what was once a thriving business venture, the scene serves as a vivid reminder of how her future prospects were dashed in the twinkling of an eye.

As she is from the same Kikuyu community as President Mwai Kibaki, she was a prime target for the violence unleashed when opposition leader Raila Odinga cried foul after the 27 December elections.

Mobs of young men from Mr Odinga's Luo ethnic group went on the rampage in Kibera and elsewhere.

What happened was not good but I do not think the hatred will continue
Daniel Owino
Kibera resident
"I wish there was no politics, I lost everything and cannot afford to pay school fees for my children," Ms Wairimu says.

She is now hoping for a miracle so she can restart her business.

But the violence may not be over - Mr Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has called for more protests, which could turn violent as the police have banned them.

'Second liberation'

Sitting down next to the charred remains of the normally bustling Olympic shopping centre in Kibera, James Okol says life has been tough for residents since the riots.

"Food prices have gone up and I cannot even return to my job since the business has closed," he told the BBC News website.

I just wish I had never participated in politics
Tina Nyamboke
But he says it is worth paying the price for the real "second liberation" of Kenya.

"The pressure must continue until Kenyans get what they were cheated of by just a few individuals - I will join the protests," he says.

As you walk along the narrow, filthy alleys of the slum, you get a sense of an uneasy calm - a few children are playing and the tenants peep out suspiciously at new faces.

People are divided about whether the communities that used to live happily side-by-side can again cohabit peacefully.

Ethnic divide

Daniel Owino says that the violence has not caused a permanent rift between the slum's Kikuyu and Luo residents.

"We are still living as one. What happened was not good but I do not think the hatred will continue," says Mr Owino, whose landlord is a Kikuyu.

Men rebuilding market stalls
These Luos are building market stalls on previously Kikuyu plots
But Anthony Khaseke says the wounds will be difficult to heal.

"I was a casual worker at a firm owned by a Kikuyu, and I have lost my job now. We cannot pretend that things will be the same," he says.

He says that unless President Kibaki and Mr Odinga can solve their differences, the ethnic tensions are here to stay.

"In some parts of Kibera and Nairobi, you have to be sure of the crowd you are talking to, to avoid being on the wrong side of the ethnic divide."


Tina Nyamboke, who hails from Kisii in western Kenya, is unhappy with the whole political system and is not sure if she will ever vote again.

She went home to cast her ballot and only returned to Nairobi this week - to find her grocery shop reduced to ashes.

People lining up to get food aid
With shops burnt, some residents are dependent on food aid
"I just wish I had never participated in politics. Why should I vote, hoping for the best, to get this," she asks sadly, pointing what remains of her livelihood.

As for the planned mass protests, she says politicians should just do whatever they feel.

"Mass action will not bring food to my table and will not make my condition worse than it is, so either way I just do not care."

Paul Muindi is lucky that his shop was not torched during the violence last month but some of his stock was looted. Despite the danger, he is planning to open up during the protests.

"People are quite anxious about what will happen if the mass protests begin but I will open my shop. I have already lost so much, even if they loot there is nothing much I can do," he told BBC News website.

While some people have fled Kibera and the ethnic tensions, Ms Wairimu says she has nowhere else to go.

"People from both communities suffered immensely from this violence but I know it was just anger.

"It may be hard to forgive but we can live together again."

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific