Mar 18, 2007

Eastleigh, Nairobi

Eastleigh, a tiny neighborhood in Nairobi, is the Somali business center in Kenya. Somali businesses are mostly located in Nairobi or Dubai, or mostly both. They import from East Asia via Dubai to Kenya and from there to the rest of Africa. In Eastleigh you find cars and trucks with number plates from around Africa - Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda ... etc - buying up merchandise to sell back home.

This is what BBC's Karen Allen had to say about Eastleigh:
Eastleigh - a bustling neighbourhood in the east of Nairobi - is where many of the city's 25,000 Somalis live.

This is not a ghetto. It is a thriving business community with freshly painted buildings, gridlocked traffic and a turnover of around £30m ($56m) a month.

That is extremely high for this part of the world.

Walk the packed streets and you will find women wearing the hijab, or headscarf, and rows of men dipping into big sacks of khat or miraa - the leafy narcotic that is chewed by so many here. It gives them a buzz and smoothes conversation.

This is Somalia recreated on Kenyan soil.
My younger brother has just been to Eastleigh and this was impression after the 1st day were little different:
We are staying In a lodge in Eastleigh (or Isli as Somalis pronounce it) by the way, and the less said the better.

I regret leaving the camera behind. I refused to get off the car when we
came to the lodge. This place is FILTHY. it's impossible to describe in words
the sorry state of this place..It's the slums of Africa. And to make things
worse, it's been raining the day before we came here. Dhiiqada [Somali word for mud] combined with mountains of rubbish in every corner of every street (if you could call it that) made things absolutely unimaginable. But the place we're staying in is quite clean, it's just when you step outside. There was sunshine and it dried a
bit and I am slowly getting used to it.

I decided when we arrived that I would call for a hunger strike given those
extreme conditions, but I am slowly adopting a less radical stance. I am
still in shock....but I'll keep you updated.
My younger brother spent almost a month is Eastleigh, in the end he quite liked it and he is determined to go back there despite the dire state of place. Though Eastleigh generates a handsome income - by Africa standards - and employees so many people, the government has no intentions to improve the roads, sewage system and public health.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Eastleigh as you have mentioned is not being looked after by Nairobi City Council road wise or cleaning wise.. Eastleigh is split into three sections 1,2,3 My Wife and Daughter live in Eastleigh Section 3. Having lived there for 1 month I thought your brother would have mentioned... Like the Lodge your brother stayed in, Majority of the Houses in all three sections are clean inside... I feel you and your brother should get off your " as usual, "British High Upper Class Cras" thoughts!! Intsead of looking into what the Youth and Women Groups do in this area!! I feel you both were as the say in "Chelsea London ASLEEP or Kenyan La La Salama" with your eyes and ears!!! What does the BBC know about Naiorbi Kenya? All you do is to Air Policital Un-rest in your own and other peoples countries? "Sado's"

English Man...