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Living halfway and ‘prospering’ in Kakuma

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Reportage. To go from Nairobi on the thousand-kilometer trip that separates the Kenyan capital from the camp is a crash course in humanity, a search for answers to fundamental questions, a road toward ‘the essential nature that is invisible to the eyes.’

written by Fabrizio Floris

Topic Refugees


June 12, 2018

Kakuma is like the answer to a sailor’s invocation: “All is lost! Everyone, to prayers!” Its silence is like the silence before the ultimate threshold. Everything seems forgotten, passions and myths—everyone here is a shipwreck survivor. Life has been tossed to and fro like a thin raft in the storm—and here, in the last place to make land, one finds a static life that hardly resembles peace at all. It is an implacable immobility with inscrutable intentions. Here, life is lived halfway.

This is Kakuma, at the outermost border of Kenya, on the frontier with Sudan, Uganda and Ethiopia. A territory inhabited by 147,670 people who come from half of Africa: these are the refugees of the many wars, old and new, that have scarred this beautiful continent, wracked with pain for so long. This refugee camp has existed for 26 years, but it is still said to be only “temporarily inhabited.” A place in suspended animation bordered by the eternal kingdom of sand—Turkana land—defined by the oppressive heat........

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