This article examines the narratives and practices of return experienced by long-term Nairobi-based Luo seeking to make a home in rural western Kenya. Building a rural home, and being buried there, remain crucial to many urban Luo understandings of a successful life. This is a project full of contingency: it relies on resources gained in the city, as well as access to land and the cultivation of rural kin relations. Although ‘home’ and ‘return’ were often spoken of in idealised terms, desires to return were as much focused on living towards the future as on a nostalgic sense of a lost past. Practices of building a rural home grapple with expectations of rural and urban kin, the challenges of doing things properly, and responsibilities of caring for home and landscapes in a way that can ensure future generations’ capacity to dwell on the same land. This desire to belong to the future is at the heart of Nairobi Luo dreams of ‘return’.
- urban change