Lilongwe – The years-long quest for citizenship for a Shona community in Kenya, originally from Zimbabwe, has finally come to a happy end.
At least 1,649 members of the community who had been stateless were presented with certificates of citizenship last week.
At the ceremony, Interior Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i said all stateless people who are eligible for Kenyan citizenship would be recognised as citizens by this year’s Jamhuri Day celebrations.
“We have been working on ending statelessness in our country, and I’m very happy about the progress we’ve made. When our President began his tenure in 2013, he pledged to end statelessness by the end of his term. We are well on our way to completing that job,” Dr Matiang’i said.
He added that the responsible ministry would conduct the process in line with international conventions on human rights and without compromising national security.
In 2020, 2,970 stateless Shonas and some Rwandans got recognition as citizens in line with the Kenyan Constitution, which obliges the state to confer citizenship on stateless persons.
At the December 12, 2020 Jamhuri Day celebrations, President Kenyatta issued a directive declaring the Shona as Kenya’s 43rd community. Twenty representatives of the community received registration certificates from the president that day.
The Shona community hails from Zimbabwe, with their forebears trekking to Kenya as missionaries. Most of them live in Kiambu County.