<b>Slum Toponymy in Nairobi, Kenya</b>:<b>A Case Study Analysis of Kibera, Mathare and Mukuru </b>

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    • MATSUBARA Kosuke
    • Associate Professor, Department of Policy and Planning Sciences, University of Tsukuba


<p>Urban informality is a reality in cities of the Global South, including Sub-Saharan Africa, which has over half the urban population living in informal settlements (slums). Taking the case of three informal settlements in Nairobi (Kibera, Mathare and Mukuru) this study aimed to show how names play an important role as urban landscape symbols. The study analyses names of sub-settlements (villages) within the slums, their meanings and the socio-political processes behind them based on critical toponymic analysis. Data was collected from archival sources, focus group discussion and interviews, newspaper articles and online geographical sources. A qualitative analysis was applied on the village names and the results presented through tabulations, excerpts and maps. Categorisation of village names was done based on the themes derived from the data. The results revealed that village names represent the issues that slum residents go through including: social injustices of evictions and demolitions, poverty, poor environmental conditions, ethnic groupings among others. Each of the three cases investigated revealed a unique toponymic theme. Kibera's names reflected a resilient Nubian heritage as well as a diverse ethnic composition. Mathare settlements reflected political struggles with a dominance of political pioneers in the village toponymy. Mukuru on the other hand, being the newest settlement, reflected a more global toponymy-with five large villages in the settlement having foreign names. Ultimately, the study revealed that ethnic heritage and politics, socio-economic inequalities and land injustices as well as globalization are the main factors that influence the toponymy of slums in Nairobi.</p>


  • Urban and Regional Planning Review

    Urban and Regional Planning Review 4(0), 21-44, 2017

    The City Planning Institute of Japan


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