The Shona community is now Kenya’s newest tribe.
This is after 1,649 members of the community, who had been stateless, were presented with citizenship certificates.
Speaking during the ceremony on Wednesday, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said all stateless people who are eligible for Kenyan citizenship will 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.
The ministry, he added, will conduct the process in line with the international conventions on human rights and without compromising national security.
The CS revealed that the stateless Sagaf community in Tana River will receive citizenship through the Department of Civil Registration in collaboration with the Directorate of Immigration Services and the National Registration Bureau.
Dr Matiang’i said the government is in talks with international migration agencies to assimilate genuine individuals into the country to curb crime.
“This is a strong demonstration of our respect for human rights. Kenya remains hospitable to all Africans who wish to live and engage in legitimate economic activities,” he said.
“All individuals will be subjected to rigorous background checks and will be meticulously verified to avoid potential devaluation of the Kenyan citizenship. We recently deported several people who obtained identity documents fraudulently.
“Some of them find ways of mixing with criminals in our midst, and we have a duty to ensure our country remains safe and secure,” Dr Matiang’i added.
He explained that the government has started simultaneous processing of citizenship certificates and identity cards in order to expedite the process.
“The intention is to flatten the barriers to adjustment of citizenship status and social integration, and the process is set to be expeditious due to the capacity adjustment in the immigration quality control,” he said.
In 2016, 1,496 members of the Makonde community in Kwale County were granted citizenship.
Last year, 2,970 stateless Shona and Rwandese received recognition as citizens, in line with the Constitution, which obliges the State to confer citizenship on stateless persons.