Members of the Makonde community who have been trekking from Kwale arrived in Nairobi today to demonstrate for their right to citizenship by naturalization. They met President Kenyatta as they aired their grievances. They have been staying in the country since their forefathers were brought here as slaves from Mozambique, Rwanda, and Zanzibar. They arrived mainly as laborers in sugar and sisal plantations at the coast.Over the years, the Makonde have heavily intermarried with local communities whose cultural values also adopted.
There are almost 10,000 members of the Makonde community at the Kenyan coast. We are not recognized says According to their representative Mzee Nguli, the community is not recognized in the country. The constitution of Kenya had addressed the problem of statelessness, in which all the stateless persons found in Kenya were to be given a nationality in accordance with a law that parliament had enacted.
The Cabinet Secretary for Interior Joseph Nkaisserry published a Gazette notice extending the period for the naturalization of stateless persons by another three years. The same week the Coast regional director for the National registration bureau indicated that they would begin the process of granting citizenship to the Makonde.
The members of the community are well endowed with talent, even in the field of sports but they have been unable to travel to participate in games because they cannot access passports which can’t be obtained without the ID card. President Uhuru Kenyatta has declared that they should be issued with identity cards.