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Demolitions in Patanisho

***** Location: Kayole, Nairobi (Kenya)
***** Season: Non-seasonal Haiku Topic
***** Category: Humanity


In the night from 23 to 24 November 2006, the houses that bordered Jacaranda and Patanisho in Kayole were demolished, leaving hundreds of families homeless.

The land where these demolitions took place, has an interesting and chequered history. Taken from the local people by the British colonialists; sold by them before Independence (1963) to a group of Kiambu Dandora Farmers; one smaller section hived off and allocated to a prominent businessman politician; fought over by the farmers, the politician’s widow and a further politician from a different party; finally grabbed by a gang of youths and sold by them to innocent and rather less innocent outsiders -- there is sufficient stuff here for a full-length novel.

The politician’s widow eventually went to court and won her case. She started to develop the empty section of her land, but wanted access also to those other parts which had been occupied and sold off by the gang. After giving the residents notice four times unsuccessfully, she asked for help from the forces of law and order.

It is thus that the police and the bulldozers arrived in the night of 23 October 2006, ordering people leave the houses immediately, and starting to demolish the structures on the land in question. The gangs turned up very soon, and they were armed. A fierce battle ensued, and one of the policemen was shot and severely injured and taken to Kenyatta National Hospital.

Photo : Patrick Wafula

The people who lost their houses include some of the young gang members and grabbers, and some of the cheated buyers, who had purchased the land innocently (but had failed to insist on title deeds). All of them suffered in the demolitions, particularly as a result of the violence caused by the gang members, and some of them suffered severe financial loss.

At the end of the story, the rule of law has prevailed, but at a cost. If it makes their business more difficult for the gang members and land grabbers, some of the price may have been worth paying... However, as the haibun and haiku below will show, innocent people suffered, and those who saw them were moved to write down their observations and their words of sympathy.

Isabelle Prondzynski.



It was on Thursday night and all was quiet. The frogs were singing their last chorus and gave humanity a chance to enjoy the rest of the night. Suddenly after midnight :

bullets crack -
the night withers
dreams disappear

Only the families that were being affected knew what was happening. For the rest of us :

fear of unknown
with soundless prayers
lay trembling

As I woke up in the morning, hoping to find the fruits of the more than four hours of gunshot, I was amazed just to see men in blue (the police) and two bulldozers. As I watched the act of the machine,

the fork went up
the houses come down
tears for breakfast

This reminded me of fifteens years ago, when living in Kangemi,

fifteen years
the ghost still alive
making desolate

when our homes were demolished. The unfolding of the painful experience made tears to flow down my eyes and so were those of everybody else around me who imagined what was about to become a painful experience.

tears water --
the muddy green land
curses all over

Kiambu is the famous name given to the particular area that was demolished (it is very different from Kiambu district). This took place after one tycoon’s widow won the case over the land dispute and now she wants to put up housing estates. Young men and women from Soweto slums had occupied some of the land.

As I write this report, the former occupants have being told to clear up, before all that is within the zone is declared as belonging to the private developer. I hope I have shed some light on the whole issue. On behalf of our parents, brothers and sisters that were affected I say thanks for your concern and prayers.

© Antony Njoroge, 2006

Worldwide use

Things found on the way


pick-ups full of
house-holds leave Patanisho...
new refugees

bulldozers pile
rubble onto lorries...
desperate screams

mothers and children
drenched in downpour...
houses gone

fires in the open
as mothers prepare supper...
cries of hungry children

ruthless policemen
shoot in the air...
fleeing residents

on the roadside,
refugees sit with luggage...

Photo : Patrick Wafula

a woman screams,
trying to stop the bulldozer...
police drag her away

Patrick Wafula


tearful eyes ..
houses demolished
leaving many homeless

Duncan (Butterfly Haiku Club)


houses and property
destroyed by bulldozers...
houseless tenants

Jasper Ratemo (Butterfly Haiku Club)


people crying
their building is brought down
people crowded

building down
as men hit the walls
stones everywhere

Adelaide Luvandale

Related words

***** Jamhuri Day

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Gabi Greve / Isabelle Prondzynski
worldkigo .....

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