Long before Miguna Miguna’s citizenship saga was Sanjay Shah

A screen grab of Miguna Miguna when he refused to board a flight to Dubai where he was being deported to on Monday..

Lawyer-politician Miguna Miguna has been restrained at JKIA for three days kicking up a stink. Only God knows what would happen if he were to remain at the airport for a year.

The biscuit for this sort of thing belongs to Sanjay Shah.

In 2005 Mr Shah was a fixture at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport where he spent 13 long months.

The Kenyan had become stateless after attempting to enter Britain where he was deemed to be an illegal alien.

Mr Shah was born in Kenya in 1962, a year before the East African territory won independence from Britain. Legally, he was therefore, a citizen of The United Kingdom and the Colonies, reported The Independent in  2005.

In 2004, Mr Shah boarded a flight from Nairobi to London using a British overseas citizen's passport to visit a relative. He was thinking of permanently moving to the UK from Kenya with his family.

Amendments to British citizenship laws in 2003 accorded him the right to apply for British citizenship. However, destiny had other ideas. Because he had presented a one-way ticket at Heathrow airport, officials there would not allow him past the immigration desk. Accordingly, they stamped “Prohibited Immigrant” on his passport.

Back at JKIA with the words "Prohibited Immigrant" prominent on the document, immigration officers barred him from entering Kenya.

   In those days Kenya did not allow dual citizenship. Mr Shah had surrendered his Kenyan passport to the government therefore losing his automatic right of entry.

Vice President Moody Awori, who was also the Minister for Home Affairs under which Immigration fell, said the government could do nothing for Mr Shah.

After months Nairobi and London agreed and the British High Commission told him he could leave the airport and remain in Kenya pending the processing of his papers. But Mr Shah had other ideas. Entering Kenya, he reckoned, would jeopardise his chances of returning to the UK so, it was the airport.

The bull-neckedness paid off when his British passport was approved but not before his efforts were termed as a "pointless protest". 

A long haul it had been. “I know each and every shop. I know each and every shopkeeper. I know the sweepers, the security officers, the immigration officers. Everyone," he would tell reporters before receiving the good news.

But life at JKIA wasn’t that Spartan. Shah’s Kenyan wife and son would visit with fresh clothes and a hot pot of chicken curry and tandoori. Touched by his plight, waitresses also gave him food and drink from the airport’s cafes.

Exit Shah, enter Iranian refugee, Merhan Nasseri. Nasseri is the fellow who spent 16 years at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris after a diplomatic mix-up.

Such feats inspire films hence Tom Hanks’ The Terminal.