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Stateless tribes to be assimilated by May

By Tobias Chanji | February 16th 2015

The Government is in the process of registering and naturalising two tribes that have lived in legal limbo in Kwale for over half a century.

This follows a presidential directive after the Kwale County Assembly petitioned President Uhuru Kenyatta to give the Pemba and Makonde Kenyan citizenship.

Ethnic Pemba and Makonde trace their origins to Zanzibar and Mozambique respectively, and have complained of discrimination and inability to enjoy rights like other citizens due to lack of identity cards. They streamed to Kinondo chief's office and Lunga Lunga to fill forms that will culminate in them being issued with identity cards before May.

Makonde came to the country before independence as workers in the sisal and defunct Ramisi Sugar Cane plantations while the Pemba came to Kenya from Tanzania to work as fishermen.

"We have two teams each covering Msambweni and Lunga Lunga constituencies. In Msambweni we are expecting 300 families to register, a process that will continue till February 25," said Kwale County Registrar of Persons Denis Mwanzia.

He said the purpose of the registration was to assimilate the stateless people by identifying their names, clan, where they came from and the duration that they have been in the country.

He, however, added that those who do not want to be recognised as Kenyans were at liberty to go back to their original countries.

The Makonde community chairperson Thomas Nguli said it was a new beginning and he has great hopes of participating in future elections.

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