The refugees who have been sleeping on my street have vanished. I came home a few days ago and was surprised to see all of their stuff was gone and they were nowhere to be found. The only thing remaining was one of the soggy cardboard boxes they used to sleep on.
So it turns out the refugees down the street are refugees and they do sleep there on the side of the road. Call me naïve, but it wasn’t always obvious to me (and nobody has explained any of this to me). I’ve seen bunches of them come and go pretty regularly since I moved to this part of Nairobi a year ago—a handful cooking dinner here, a few in sleeping bags there, but never for more than a couple days at a time. The latest bunch has got to be at least twenty people, though, and they’ve been there for at least a month now.
In the last couple of days I’ve accidentally talked to a few of them… I’m just so used to bumbling along Church Road talking to everyone that it was bound to happen eventually. The first guy was from Burundi, and the second guy was from Congo. This would definitely explain why they speak Swahili. And whattaya know, I speak Swahili! Enough, at least, to figure out what’s going on.
The refugees on my street corner. I ain’t talking about the rap group, I’m talkin’ about real ones, from Somalia… just chillin’ on the corner of my street. I’m not sure if they sleep there, because they’re gone when I leave for work in the morning, but they do have blankets. I guess it makes sense, because the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (Somalia Mission) is just down the street. I’m not sure why I’ve never seen them until recently, because my new apartment is just a block from my old place. Lately I’ve even seen them cooking food on wood fires. It’s obviously very awkward for me when I walk by them because I usually have a big bag of groceries.