Stateless people demand citizenship from the Kenyan Government.
By Tobias Chanji
| October 11th 2016
Over 1,000 representatives of people without State recognition have embarked on a mission to demand citizenship from the Government.
The representatives are trekking to Nairobi to seek audience with President Uhuru Kenyatta to discuss their citizenship status.
Several people in the county including the Makonde, who trace their roots to Mozambique; Wapemba, originally from Pemba in the Indian Ocean in Tanzania, and Warundi of Burundi have lived in the county in impoverished conditions as descendants of migrant workers who came to Kenya during the colonial era.
Some of them were fleeing civil war in their countries of origin in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Most lack any papers to confirm their ancestry, and any other claim to Kenyan citizenship.
About four years ago, they were declared Stateless, after Mozambique attempted to take back her alleged citizens.
Some of the Makonde registered to become citizens through the South Africa’s consulate in Mombasa last year, and even participated in that country’s elections, which halted Kenya’s pledge to grant them nationality.
The majority of Makonde, Pemba and Warundi born in Kenya reject any plans to take them to these foreign nations although they have no land and other rights of citizenship.
Estimates indicate the stateless people in Kwale could be about 50,000, with half of them being in Mombasa, Kilifi and Taita Taveta.
A process to recognise these people and grant them citizenship started early last year when they were registered in a census. But since then, no more information has been forthcoming on the process.
The communities’ leaders met yesterday at Makongeni village to plan their trip, which has been delayed by national government officials in the region.
Thomas Nguli of the Makonde community said nothing will stop them from meeting the President as he recounted on what they go through as Stateless people on a daily basis.
“We don’t know any other country than Kenya. Let us be called the Kenyan Makondes, and if we are not needed here, then let them just kill us,” he said.
Mr Nguli said the community has not been enjoying the rights and privileges given by the Government as they are referred to as visitors.
“No one has ever heard that as a community we have at any time engaged in any criminal activities. We, therefore, don’t see any need to delay our recognition,” he added.
Amina Kassim was upbeat that the trip will bear fruits, even as she decided to trek without shoes to symbolise the pain she has had to undergo.
“I will walk without shoes because of the pain. I was married but was divorced, and I cannot do anything because I don’t have an ID to even lodge a complaint,” she explained.
Omar Siriyako, with roots from Burundi, said life has not been easy due to lack of identification documents.
Hatib Bakari, who is a Pemba, prayed that the trip is successful.
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