We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Nairobi Today

The Paradox of a Fragmented City

Helene Charton-Bigot, Deyssi Rodriguez-Torres

Publication Year: 2010

Despite being a large capital city in Africa in terms of size and its regional role, Nairobi is an unrecognised entity. For the majority of its inhabitants, the capital of Kenya is a transit point rather than a dwelling place. Since its origins, Nairobi has been a city of migrants, more predisposed to their rural roots than to their current city status. It is a non-conforming town, which conceals its urbanity more than it claims it, and whose identity remains evasive. Nairobi presents itself as a mosaic of residential areas which bring to mind the cityís history. The racial segregation that stratified the development of the colonial city has today disappeared, but it has given way to a form of social segregation. One must, therefore, not seek a unique identity in Nairobi, but rather, several identitiesóthose of different communities that comprise the city and whose dynamics are seen at village and residential estate level. However, Nairobi is also a city that is contradictory. This East African capital city is often associated with slums and crime, and their increase and growth stigmatises the failure of urban policies. Therefore, it is at these cracks and fringes of the city that we should seek out the identities and dynamics that have shaped the city for a century. Nairobi is a fragmented city that can be understood in steps. The 13 contributory articles in Nairobi Today thus reveal the city. This multidisciplinary collective work invites us to gain entry into certain areas of the city, to visit its communities and to familiarise ourselves with its formal and informal institutions. This is a requirement in order to fully understand what makes Nairobi what it is today.

Published by: African Books Collective

Title page

pdf iconDownload PDF (92.4 KB)

Copyright page

pdf iconDownload PDF (73.9 KB)


pdf iconDownload PDF (94.5 KB)
pp. v-vi


pdf iconDownload PDF (63.5 KB)
pp. vii-viii


pdf iconDownload PDF (87.2 KB)
pp. ix-xii


pdf iconDownload PDF (76.1 KB)
pp. xiii-xiv


Town Life in Colonial Kenya

pdf iconDownload PDF (241.2 KB)
pp. 3-22

Part One: Public Policy and the Informal Town

City planning in Nairobi: the stakes, the people, the sidetracking

pdf iconDownload PDF (244.8 KB)
pp. 25-60

Public authorities and urban upgrading policies in Eastlands: the example of ‘Mathare 4A Slum Upgrading Project’

pdf iconDownload PDF (237.5 KB)
pp. 61-94

read more

Management of garbage in Nairobi: perspectives of restructuring public action

pdf iconDownload PDF (1019.4 KB)
pp. 95-120

Nairobi’s basic public services, particularly the management of garbage, have been a recurring concern of the public authorities since the foundation of the city in 1899. Due to the importance of these services for the city’s health,          beginning of the 20th century.3

read more

Water and the poor in Nairobi: from water apartheid to urban fragmentation: The Case of Kibera

pdf iconDownload PDF (208.9 KB)
pp. 121-148

Nairobi is strongly marked by the social and spatial segregation established during the colonial era. The city today still carries these signs, but independence and certain economic developments have led to more subtle social distinctions. A differentiation within the black population itself has now succeeded the colonial racial discrimination between blacks and whites. ...

Part Two: Urban identities

read more

Grey Nairobi: Sketches of Urban socialties

pdf iconDownload PDF (299.2 KB)
pp. 151-198

That Nairobi feels grey does not make it dull.1  your eye not as colourful sprigs, but as mauve mists passing away like shadows. @     Q            @       

read more

A microcosmic minority: the Indo-Kenyans of Nairobi

pdf iconDownload PDF (311.0 KB)
pp. 199-252

Anyone who has ever lived in Nairobi will have noticed the Indian presence to the point of overestimating its demographic importance. In an African country such as Kenya, which has cast off a large number of traditional values (particularly tribal dress), meeting representatives of the Indian Diaspora brings back to mind the clichés of a melting pot ...

read more

Muslims in Nairobi: from a feeling of marginalisation to a desire for political recognition

pdf iconDownload PDF (15.7 MB)
pp. 253-288

Islam was introduced to Nairobi at the end of the 19th century by Swahili or Arab merchants who founded the Muslim villages of Mombasa town, Unguja, & Q‚'          marrying women of different ethnic groups from within the country2 who    "

read more

Pentecostalism in Nairobi

pdf iconDownload PDF (158.6 KB)
pp. 289-302

  An old dilapidated theatre concels a church that was built, quite literally, from the inside.1 Instead of the screen, there is a building site: a stage with walls under construction representing two towers, an arch, and the beginning of what will be a baptistery. This new structure is about 15 metres high and can hold more than 700 people. ...

Part Three: Areas fragmented by power

read more

Local Political System of Nairobi

pdf iconDownload PDF (185.0 KB)
pp. 305-326

Nairobi’s local political system should be discussed and understood in the context of the political system of Local Authorities in Kenya as constituted in the Local Government Act Chapter 265. In this context, this section begins with an overview of the political system in Local Authorities (LAs) in Kenya, ...

read more

‘A city under siege’: formalised banditry and deconstruction of modes of accumulation in Nairobi, 1991–2004

pdf iconDownload PDF (192.3 KB)
pp. 327-350

A combination of internal and external pressures exerted on the Kenyan regime by various actors had a profound impact on modes of socioeconomic engagements and accumulations in Nairobi. This was with a view to compelling the regime to institute political and economic liberalisation. At one level, ...

read more

Hidden $ Centz: rolling the wheels of Nairobi matatu

pdf iconDownload PDF (160.9 KB)
pp. 351-364

A hot October afternoon. I am standing at the Tusker lay-by right in the heart of the Central Business District. A sea of humanity crushes into me from all directions. It is approaching the afternoon rush hour, and from the build-up of human activity spurred on by the sight of heavy rain clouds drifting towards the city ...

read more

Political activism in Nairobi: violence and resilience of Kenyan authoritarianism

pdf iconDownload PDF (200.5 KB)
pp. 365-390

Political action in Kenya essentially takes the form of demonstrations, urban revolt and even, as in 1982, attempted coups d’État. Violence is the result of constraints imposed on a society by political authoritarianism which has continually governed the functioning of the State since its appearance ...

Back cover

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.4 MB)

E-ISBN-13: 9789987081325
Print-ISBN-13: 9789987080939

Page Count: 404
Illustrations: b/w
Publication Year: 2010