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World Policy Journal: The Somali Question

Author: Mwaura Samora
Fall 2013

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"Life has not been the same in Eastleigh since the Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) invaded war-torn Somalia to hunt down the al-Shabab terror group in 2011. Since then, explosions halt, at times violently, the buying and selling in this market town."

NAIROBI—Throngs of traders haggle and jostle for goods along busy streets, constantly interrupted by the hooting of matatus, local public transport vehicles, and the shouting of pushcart drivers, known as mkokotenis. This neighborhood is no place for the squeamish. The matatus and the mkokotenis make their way through deep, water-filled potholes, splashing thick, dark liquid onto crowded sidewalks. Like the badly damaged roads, the sewage system in Nairobi's Eastleigh district was built by British colonists in the 1920s to service a few hundred working-class Africans and Indians, but now it must bear the waste of over 100,000 residents. Today raw sewage oozes out of thousands of household pipes that have ruptured after decades of neglect. The dark green sludge mixes with runoff in the streets to form a foul porridge of human excrement.

But these pools of unsanitary sludge are not what is deterring thousands of Nairobians from coming to "Little Mogadishu," as Eastleigh is known due to its Somali population. It is the grenade attacks.

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