What you need to know:
- The new development follows a presidential directive on October 13, after 300 members of the community, with support from human rights groups, trekked to State House Nairobi from Makongeni in Kwale to seek President Uhuru Kenyatta’s intervention to have them recognised as Kenyans.
- They were addressed by President Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto who apologised over failure by successive regimes to address their plight and promised them that their issue would be addressed.
It was joy and excitement as hundreds of the Makonde community members in Kwale County turned out to be registered for national identity cards bringing to an end years of struggle to be recognised as Kenyans.
The process, presided over by the Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Governor Salim Mvurya kicked off on a high note with members of the community, who originated from Mozambique, expressing their joy that they would finally be able to transact even the most basic of official requirements, such as owning an Mpesa account-without going through a third party.
The exercise, which will also see other stateless people registered, was launched at the Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Mvindeni, in Kwale County.
Over 200 members of the Makonde were registered. The registration exercise will take 15-days and targets those living in Kwale and Kilifi counties.
It has been a long struggle for the group who say they came to the county more than 50-years ago to get Kenyan ID’s and birth certificates.
The new development follows a presidential directive on October 13, after 300 members of the community, with support from human rights groups, trekked to State House Nairobi from Makongeni in Kwale to seek President Uhuru Kenyatta’s intervention to have them recognised as Kenyans.
They were addressed by President Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto who apologised over failure by successive regimes to address their plight and promised them that their issue would be addressed.
On Tuesday, Mr Nkaissery asked members of the community “to feel liberated’’ since they would enjoy all the rights just like other Kenyans.
“I am happy to be with you here today and share with you the privilege of being Kenyans. From now on, you are going to enjoy all rights like other citizens,” he said.
He said even before community representatives made the decision to trek to Nairobi, the government was already working on better ways to help them gain recognition.
He assured them that they would get IDs by November 10, which is way before the December deadline set by the President.
Mr Mvurya asked the community to return the favour by voting for Jubilee.
“There have been several regimes but it is only the Jubilee government which has recognized you therefore you have to pay back by voting for me and the president,” he said.
Similar sentiments were made by Kwale Woman Rep Zainab Chidzuga, and MPs Khatib Mwashetani (Lunga Lunga) and Gonzi Rai (Kinango) as well as Kinondo Ward Rep Juma Maone and others.
Coast regional coordinator Nelson Marwa praised the community for keeping the peace even as they struggled for recognition.
The community’s chairperson Thomas Nguli could not find enough words to explain how happy he was and all he could dow was to thank the government.
Sabina Njasi an elderly woman from the Makonde community also shared her joy while recalling the suffering she has been going through together with her family since she came to Kenya.
Ms Njasi who did not even remember her age said she came together with her boyfriend who eloped with her from Mozambique and all along they have been living like fugitives.
“I now have grandchildren but I remember when my children were young I used to hide them in the bush whenever police officers were patrolling our area for fear of being arrested,” she said.
Abdallah Muhibu a madrassa teacher from the same community hoped that after acquiring the ID he will be able to lead marriage ceremonies according to Islam.
Mr Muhibu said whenever they had such ceremonies they were forced to look for people from other areas because despite of having the knowledge he was not able to provide a certificate.
“Surely I have really suffered as a teacher but now I am hopeful my people will no longer have to look for someone to lead marriage services as I am now at their service,” he said.
Similarly, Edward Tsuni who is a sculptor hoped to benefit from the business as initially he used to seek support from people with IDs to sale the products on his behalf.
The stateless people who have been in the country since 1947 have not been able to get bank loans, enjoy mobile money services, acquire birth certificates and bursaries due to lack of proper identification.