Somali neighborhood of Eastleigh, Nairobi | Skillshare Projects



Somali neighborhood of Eastleigh, Nairobi

Coming from a small town in Iowa, USA where the majority of the population are migrants and refugees from across Asia, Africa and Latin America who come to work in meat packing plants, I've always been interested in the ways migrants preserve their culture while also integrating into the new societies they call home.  

In my new home of Nairobi, I ventured with my Somali roommate to a neighborhood most Nairobians told me they avoid. Eastleigh is a vibrant community that has been neglected by infastructure and development projects enjoyed in other parts of Nairobi. It depends on the innovation of the migrants and refugees who live there.

Negative publicity surrounding the Somali community after the Westgate attacks has caused the justification for a lot of discrimination and even human rights abuses against the population. In mid-2014, much of the population was forcibly sent either back to Somalia or to Kenyan refugee camps. Amidst the chaos police harassment was common. But the xenophobia didn't deter most from coming back to continue their lives.

When one immerses themselves into this community which has been populated by Somalis for generations, they'll quickly witness the ways in which they continue to persevere despite the conditions to build their businesses, care for their families and live their lives in dignity. I hope these pictures contribute to that narrative. 

The Somali neighborhood of Eastleigh, Nairobi has been neglected by the government and lacks proper waste management or roads. Despite this, the community continues to have thriving markets and businesses.

The first stop on our shopping spree was to indulge in some Arabian perfumes from Yemen. Here my roommate picks the perfect scent for her collection.

Somali wedding garments are sold in Eastleigh, running at around $30 USD.

This Ethiopian man has lived among Somalis in Eastleigh for 15 years and sold fabrics for Somali dresses from around the world. 

Our marvelous chef cooks proudly stands in his kitchen where has at least six pots of rice and spiced sauces ready for his regular clientel. 

Our Somali dinner at a hole in the wall restaraunt down an alley, directed to us by a local merchant.

Leaving the neighborhood on a bus back to Nairobi's city centre felt like leaving one world for another. Next time, though, we may come for an entire weekend.


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