The Government has today granted Kenyan citizenship to 1,649 members of the Shona community.
According to the state, this is part of the commitment to redress statelessness of persons and communities living in the country.
Speaking at the Windsor Hotel in Kiambu County, Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i announced that members of Sagaf community in Tana River will be the next to have their status regularized, a process that will be concluded before this year’s Jamhuri Day.
“The last of stateless people in the country who qualify for Kenyan citizenship will have their status regularized by December this year,” he said.
Matiang’i added that although the country was committed to redressing the plight of stateless persons and communities living in the country in line with Human Rights and International Conventions, the process of conferring Kenyan citizenship will be tempered with the larger national security interests.
The Shona community arrived in Kenya from Zimbabwe (then known as Southern Rhodesia and later Rhodesia) as Christian missionaries in the 1960s.
They carried British passports and were registered as British subjects.
After Kenya’s independence in 1963, they had a two-year window to register as Kenyans, which many missed.
In addition, because they were no longer resident in their countries of birth, they were not able to register there, thus rendering them stateless.
Many stateless persons of Rwandan descent came to Kenya in the 1930s to work in the tea estates of Kericho County.
Due to a combination of factors, similar to the Shona people, they have become stateless.
Last year during Jamhuri day celebrations, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced the landmark decision to grant them citizenship, ensuring that they are fully included in society.