KENYA: Government Grants Makonde Community Citizenship

NAIROBI OCTOBER 14, 2016 (CISA) – President Uhuru Kenyatta has issued a directive that all eligible stateless Makonde people be issued with national Identity Cards by December.

“I seek your apology on behalf of other Kenyans because we have taken too long to consider you as our brothers and sisters,” said President Uhuru October 13, when the community presented a petition to him at State House.

Led by officers from the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), a delegation of 300 members of the community travelled from Kwale County to Nairobi to petition the government to recognize them as Kenyan citizens. The Makonde community came to Kenya in 1947.

They originated from Northern Mozambique and were recruited by the British colonial authorities to work at sisal farms and sugar plantations in Kwale, Kilifi and Taita Taveta. When Kenya attained independence in 1963, the Makonde were not identified as one of the 42 tribes of Kenya.

“Asians and Arabs who held British citizenship were however given a two-year grace period to either register as Kenyan citizens or take up British citizenship,” President Kenyatta said.

“This provision left out other migrant communities who had been living in Kenya before 1963 and who consequently became stateless,” he said.

He however said that after promulgation of the new constitution in 2010, the new Citizenship and Immigration had a provision for issuance of citizenship to stateless persons.

The walk to statehouse dubbed, “Trekking against Statelessness” was flagged off at Makongeni, Kinondo, Kwale County and was organized with the help of KHRC to support the Makonde community to tell their agony of being without legal identity.

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