The Congolese feel at home in Kitengela

Friday December 1 2017

An aerial view of Kitengela town. There are

An aerial view of Kitengela town. There are close to 3,000 Congolese in the town. GRAPHIC | GOOGLE MAP 

By JOSEPH NGUNJIRI
More by this Author

Kenya’s relative political and economic stability has served as a powerful magnet for people from neighbouring countries for years.

Nairobi and its surrounding are a mosaic of nationalities.

In Kitengela, for example, there are close to 3,000 Congolese. Some are even married to Kenyans.

FRENCH TEACHERS

They work as French teachers in private schools, waiters, barbers and even boda bodas.

Mr Justin Musabwa, the chairman of the Congolese in Kitengela, is happy, following President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive to ease movement and settlement of other Africans in Kenya.

“The decision will improve the lives of our people,” Mr Musabwa said.

He added that though the Congolese were happy in Kenya, there were minor issues that needed to be addressed.

“The fact that we are refugees does not mean we are less human,” said the man who has lived in Kitengela for four years.

“It is just that our country is in problems. Once things stabilise, we will go back home.”

REFUGEE STATUS

He would like to see his countrymen compensated fairly for their work.

“Some people take advantage of our refugee status and either pay poorly or refuse to pay for the work we do,” he said.

Mr Musabwa gave the example of three men who were dismissed without pay after working in a hotel for three months.

“Community leaders reported the matter to Kitengela Police Station and the hotel owner was summoned. He has promised to pay them,” Mr Musabwa said.

He added that Congolese had made themselves useful in Kitengela.

“Our people make good barbers and keyboard players,” he added.