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Nairobi, 11 Dec 06

They came in large numbers- the young, the old and the young at heart.

And they had their hearts’ fill as they sang and sashayed along to the familiar tunes as Kenya’s top music groups belted out one hit song after another. The venue- Mathare Open Field within the Mathare slum- did not matter either. To the area residents that Sunday, 10 December 2006 was a day to make merry and a fitting addition to the festive season’s revelry.

For this was the day UN-HABITAT together with the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) and the Nairobi One-Stop Youth Information and Resource Centre held a well attended Mitaa Bila Balaa (Estates without Trouble) Peace March and Concert.

The event was held in direct response to the violence and insecurity faced in the Mathare Valley Settlement early last month. The UN-HABITAT Messenger of Truth, Gidi Gidi, in association with Street Expression, Ukoo Flani Maumau, Jabali Afrika and the MYSA Haba na Haba all performed at the inspirational event where the artists spread messages of peace and unity to the youth of Mathare. “Hapa ni kwenyu nyumbani. Msikubali watu wowote wawaletee utengamano”. “This is your home. Do not let anyone bring divisions amongst you” was the message from Jabali Afrika who drew cheers from the large crowd in attendance. Members of the community, by a show of waving hands, joined together in solidarity to stand up against violence in the community.

As a follow up to the successful event, the Kenyan National Association of Social Workers (KNASW) on Monday this week started to conduct a rapid assessment in Mathare to identify the households affected by the insecurity and to determine the level of devastation. Recommendations brought forth from the assessment will be presented in a Mathare Assistance Programme set up by UN-Habitat.

The peace concert and rapid assessment have been made possible by a $50,000 donation from UN-Habitat to respond to the people affected and displaced by the violence. 

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