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Iconic : Mama Uhuru House Razed In Dawn Demolitions

Iconic : Mama Uhuru House Razed In Dawn Demolitions

Family says the property that had 136 unit was demolished at 2am on Wednesday

The iconic Mama Uhuru house located along Kangundo Road at the Kangundo Road market has been demolished. https://rb.gy/9ustat

Victims struggling to salvage households as youths scavenge for steel metals from the demolished Mama Uhuru house at Kangundo Road market in Umoja, Nairobi on January 10, 2024
Victims struggling to salvage households as youths scavenge for steel metals from the demolished Mama Uhuru house at Kangundo Road market in Umoja, Nairobi on January 10, 2024 Image: GEORGE OWITI

The iconic Mama Uhuru house along Kangundo Road at the Kangundo Road market has been demolished.

The two-floor flat belonged to relatives of Kenya’s freedom fighter Mwanaisha Bilali.

The freedom fighter was popularly known as Mama Uhuru before her demise on September 9, 2009.

Her grandchildren said the property with 136 units(single rooms) was demolished at 2.00 am on Wednesday.

The family has accused the Nairobi county government staffers of assaulting them during the eviction and demolition.

“People from the county government came with bulldozers at night and demolished our property without any eviction order. They only told us to remove our children from the building before effecting the night evictions,” Mwanaisha Chebet Bilali, one of the grandchildren told the Star at the scene on Wednesday.

In a quick rejoinder, the Nairobi County Government acknowledged its involvement in the evictions.

The county’s Business and Hustler Opportunities CEC Maureen Njeri said Mama Uhuru house and three other buildings at Kangundo Road market were demolished after the expiry of notices issued by the NCCG two years ago.

“The buildings had made full operationalisation and uptake of the market a challenge as they blocked access to the weighbridge and loading zone of the market for trucks,” Njeri told the Star on Wednesday.

The demolition taking place on January 10, 2023
The demolition taking place on January 10, 2023 Image: GEORGE OWITI

Njeri said the market was constructed with support from the National Government to ease off the Wakulima Market in CBD.

“The county had issued compensation to the owners. However, they have been hesitant to move to the allocated parcels despite numerous pleas by the county government,” Njeri said.

“This resistance led to the need for eviction and demolition, which was done in a humane and dignified manner. Occupants were allowed to safely evacuate the building and ample security was provided for them alongside their belongings.”

The CEC said NCCG under the leadership of Governor Johnson Sakaja remains committed to a city of Order, Dignity, Hope and Opportunities for all.

Mwanaisha Chebet Bilali speaking to the Star outside their demolished house along Kangundo Road in Umoja, Nairobi on January 10, 2024
Mwanaisha Chebet Bilali speaking to the Star outside their demolished house along Kangundo Road in Umoja, Nairobi on January 10, 2024 Image: GEORGE OWITI

The structure had been pulled down when the Star visited the scene.

Youths were busy scavenging for steel and iron sheets from the demolished structure.

“I have a child who is joining Form One. I told them to allow me to take his calling letter from the house but they refused. They instead assaulted me with my husband,” Chebet said.

They said the land on which they had erected the structure was issued to them during former President Mwai Kibaki’s reign in 2002 and they constructed the house and settled in it in 2005.

The two storey house before it was demolished
The two storey house before it was demolished Image: GEORGE OWITI

Chebet said their grandmother has 102 great-grandchildren, some of whom lived in the demolished structure.

She wondered why the evictions were done at night stating that they only salvaged a few items from the rubbles.

“We have had challenges here. The parcel of land was given to our grandmother by retired President Uhuru Kenyatta as a reward for her involvement in freedom fighting,” Chebet said.

Chebet said before being allocated the plots they had been evicted from a house at Pumwani flats.

“We were evicted from Pumwani flats and reallocated to this parcel where we have settled since 2005. We have been living here with threats despite holding proper ownership documents,” Chebet said.

The victims said there was no eviction order to that effect yet they have been paying land rates to the Nairobi City County administration.

Mariamu Bilali said they were stranded and didn’t know where to go with their children after being rendered homeless.

Bilali said she had taken a bank loan of Sh2 million that they used to extend and renovate the structure which she was still servicing.

“We work with the same people who have demolished our property. They were over 100 people including the county government’s staffers,” Bilali said.

“This is my fourth month servicing the loan. I tried to reach out to the county officials before and during the demolitions in vain,” Bilali said.

She said police had denied involvement in the forcible evictions.

Bilali said none of those who affected the demolitions wanted to see a court order in their possession.

“I know all those involved in the demolitions,” Bilali said.

Some of the remains the family managed to salvage from the demolished building on January 10, 2024
Some of the remains the family managed to salvage from the demolished building on January 10, 2024 Image: GEORGE OWITI

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