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Kwale man, 80, still walks around with colonial identity card

By Tobias Chanji | August 22nd 2016

Mzee Sauti Limeta, 80, has lost all hope of ever getting Kenyan citizenship.

"I am only waiting to die," says the elderly Makonde man, who was among the first group that came from Mozambique in the 1950s.

"I came because my uncle called me. He had been brought to Kenya by the white settlers to work in a sisal plantation and later on a sugar farm," he narrates, adding that before embarking on the journey that took weeks — hitch-hiking and trekking — he was fascinated by the prospect of coming to Kenya, where he arrived in 1951.

Mr Limeta says he had by then trained as a tailor and hoped to settle easily. Initially, life was easy and the foreigners found no reason to return to their motherland as independence approached.

He claims that many Makonde even participated in the first election leading to independence.

"At the time, most countries were looking forward to independence. In Kenya, we even voted for first President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta using colonial IDs," he says, and adds: "Immediately after independence, we were abandoned."


Soon his tailoring business began to flounder and he joined his uncle in a plantation in Vipingo where he worked for 40 years.

To date Limeta still holds a colonial ID and uses it to identify himself and evade arrest.

"Till now, I just walk around with my colonial ID. I have failed to invest my entire life due to lack of a Kenyan ID," explains Limeta.

With all these tribulations, however, Limeta is adamant he cannot return to Mozambique.

"I stand to benefit here (Kenya) more than Mozambique. I have grown old here and even watched my generation fade," he adds.

Masera Punda, who estimates he was born in 1938, was the eldest in his family in Mozambique. He came to Kenya in 1955 but has also never got a Kenyan ID. The coming of the M-Pesa technology introduced new problems.

"I use my friends’ M-Pesa account to get money from my children or any other person and if they are bad people they slice a bit of it," he says.

Rose Sungura, who dropped out at Standard Seven, claims to be the most learned person among the Makonde of Kwale.

Ms Sungura says she cannot get assistance from the CDF office for lack of an ID and birth certificate.

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