chapter  6
18 Pages

Fighting over a Public Toilet: Masculinities, Class and Violence in a Nairobi Ghetto

Withvan Naomi Stapele

This chapter analyses a conflict between young men and women over the control of a public toilet in the Mathare ghetto. It discusses how intersecting gender and class identifications among young men led them to claim this public toilet that was managed by a group of, predominantly, women, and how this ties in with the wider context of political and other forms of violence in Mathare. The sense of entitlement shared by the young, male alcohol brewers confronting the Muungano women at the public toilet was partially informed by the history of gangs and their control of public services in Nairobi ghettos. The chapter shows that the engagement of young men from ghetto neighbourhoods in political and other forms of violence. Looking at the intersectionality of class and gender in context-bound constructions of the self enables us to grasp the motivations, legitimisations and strategies behind conflicts and acts of violence in Mathare from the perspective of the young men involved.