‘We Wait for Miracles’: Ideas of Hope and Future among Clandestine Burundian Refugees in Nairobi

  • Simon Turner
Part of the Anthropology, Change and Development book series (ACD)


Turning off Ngong Road opposite the racecourse, I make my way along dirt tracks filled with mud and debris, past worn-down brick buildings that have expanded with lean-tos and shacks around the properties. These shacks are made of corrugated iron and contain a number of small ‘flats’, as can be seen from the characteristic rows of doors and small windows along one side. The tenants share common pit latrines and a separate outdoor area for cleaning. These are not the densely populated urban slums of elsewhere in Nairobi, and there is something distinctly rural and pioneering to the area. We pass a small open space of grassland with a few grazing goats. Today a charismatic church has built a temporary stage, flanked by massive loudspeakers and a pastor in a worn suit is preaching to the crowd of curious onlookers. I am on my way to visit Jean, a Burundian in his early twenties, who lives together with four other young Burundians in two rooms. None of these men have refugee papers and constantly risk being stopped by the police and asked for a bribe. Neither do they have a regular income.


Refugee Camp Good Future Liminal Space Grazing Goat Corrugate Iron 
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© Simon Turner 2015

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  • Simon Turner

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