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VIDEO: Hope for Stateless Shona Community in Kenya as they are set to be given Birth Certificates

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Imagine living all your adult life as a stateless person. This is the case with at least 4,000 members of the Shona community who live in Kenya. Originally from Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and South Africa, they came to Kenya in the 1960s to spread the Gospel and although recognized by Kenya’s founding fathers, they were never granted citizenship. This situation has continued todate denying them basic rights including education and employment.

88 year old Mofat Ngwabi, sits comfortably in his chair in his home in Kinoo in the ouskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. Mofat is one of the few still alive who remembers when the Shona people of Zimbabwe arrived in Kenya in the 1960s.

He was part of a group of around 100 missionaries, who came to establish the Gospel of God Church. When they arrived they were met and welcomed by the first post-independence President of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta. Mofat looks on proudly at a photo of the encounter with the President that hangs on the wall in the church office.

Despite the meeting, and receiving the blessing of the President to establish a church, the Shona could not be registered because under the first post-independence constitution, there was no provision for people not of Kenyan descent to be registered as citizens.

“We can’t enjoy services that nationals enjoy.”

It has rendered them stateless today, meaning without Kenyan citizenship or nationality.

As a result, Mofat, his seven children, nine grandchildren, and two great grandchildren who were all born in Kenya, have never had the right to become citizens. Though they speak the national language, Swahili, and local Kikuyu dialect spoken where they live. Though they are deeply ingrained in Kenya culture, from food to music. Though none of them has ever left Kenya to travel abroad, the fact that they are not recognized as Kenyans has left the family feeling a deep sense of despair.

Kenya. The stateless Shona community still waiting for citizenship88 year old Mofat Ngwabi, stands with his wife, Mangwenya, and the rest of his family near their home on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. UNHCR/T.Jones

It’s a problem affecting over 4000 Shona people in Kenya who descended from the church.

Mike Moyo, a Carpenter in nearby Kiambu County just outside the capital, is in the same situation as Mofat. All of Mike’s 10 children and 7 grandchildren were born in Kenya but are stateless.

“We are like dead men walking.”

“All my 10 children do not have birth certificates, and the older ones do not have identity cards. It’s awful,” says Mike.

Ramik, Mike’s eldest son says the effects have been dreadful.

“We can’t enjoy services that nationals enjoy. We don’t have mobile banking and going to the hospital is also a challenge. Birth certificate are needed for class 8 registration for our children who are in primary school so sometimes we are forced to ‘buy’ parents so that our children can continue with education. We cannot even save money.”

And so the vicious cycle of statelessness continues to the next generation in the Moyo family.

Carpenter-132 year old Ramik Mofat Moyo is Mike Moyo’s son. He is also a carpenter. Ramik just like his children, was born and raised in Kenya. They are all stateless. UNHCR/T.Jones

“All my 10 children do not have birth certificates, and the older ones do not have identity cards. It’s awful.” 61 year old Mike Moyo is a carpenter, a skill he inherited from his Shona forefathers from Zimbabwe. UNHCR/T.Jones

Some Shona people have married Kenyans which has helped their children acquire documents such as birth certificates. But the Shona say marrying nationals is not the solution. They say they deserve to be recognized as Kenyans.

The situation has meant that thousands of Shona people can’t be employed formally, and so survive doing informal work.

Many Shona women  weave baskets and do bead work to put food on the table they say. A lack of documents has forced them to sell their products for far less than they are worth through middle men.

Ben Kapota, a stateless father of eight who also lives in Kiambu says;

“I have been arrested several times because of moving around without an identity card. My community members had to bail me out. We are like dead men walking. If anything happens to us far from home, people will not be able to identify you just because you do not have an identity card.”

“I have been arrested several times because of moving around without an identity card.”

“If I got an ID card today, the first thing I will do is to get a driver’s license, then get a passport and start doing business.” Says Ben.

Kenya. The stateless Shona community still waiting for citizenshipStateless, Ben Kapota, sits with his daughter Blessing at a carpentry workshop run by the Shona community in the town of Kiambaa on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. UNHCR/T.Jones

Kenya. The stateless Shona community still waiting for citizenshipShona women weave baskets on the floor of their home in the town of Githurai on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. It’s their only source of income. UNHCR’s #IBelong campaign is committed to ending statelessness for an estimated 10 million people worldwide. UNHCR/T.Jones

Despite the situation, many Shona are however hopeful that the Kenyan government will give them citizenship soon.

Shona community leaders and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency in Kenya, have met with the government to try and find a solution for Shona people.

The Makonde community, originally from Mozambique were recently recognized by the government as Kenyans and given nationality, as the 43rd tribe of Kenya. This act has revived hopes that there will be a speedy solution for the Shona.

Read our statelessness report, “This is our home”: Stateless minorities and their search for citizenship” here. The report was released to mark the third year of the #IBelong campaign to end statelessness.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Elizabeth Oyaya

    August 1, 2019 at 11:13 pm

    This people are our fellow Kenyans and they should be recognized as such and given citizenship without further delay. It’s a shame we have treated our African brothers and sisters of Shona community with disdain, denying them for so long their basic rights,and failing to create a path for them to enable them obtain citizenship.

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Africa

Remains of victims of Ethiopian Airlines crash flown home

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The remains of thirty-two Kenyans who perished in the tragic Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 plane crash on March 10, 2019, have been flown to Nairobi today.

An Ethiopian Airline plane carrying the fragments of the deceased landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Monday morning.

The remains arrived in specialised caskets and a brief function was held after arrival. Only close family members are to be given the caskets bearing the fragments.

The bodies were severely damaged beyond recognition prompting Ethiopian Airlines to consider DNA analysis to identify their remains.The 32 victims are among 157 people who were killed in the plane crash at Bishoftu town, shortly after taking off to Nairobi.

It is after the International Police through its Incident Response Team revealed on September 12, 2019, that it had successfully identified the 157 passengers who boarded the plane.The team declared the exercise a success saying “six months on after the plane crash, every single victim has been successfully identified.”

Family members of the victims of the Ethiopian Plane crash that killed 157 people from different nationalities visited the crash site to give their last respect and prayers to their departed one at Tulu Fera in Ejera. [ Maxwell Agwanda, Standard]

“The INTERPOL Incident Response Team (IRT) deployed following the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines plane in March has completed its task, assisting with the successful identification of all victims of the deadly disaster,” the Interpol noted on its website.It noted that the identification exercise was prompted by a request from the airlines’ company.

It stated: “At the request of the Ethiopian authorities, two days after the accident INTERPOL sent an IRT to assist with the operation. The team’s role was to coordinate the international police disaster victim identification (DVI) response and coordinating the antemortem data supplied by member countries.

”Interpol further revealed that the process was aided by a team of 100 DVI experts drawn from 14 countries in Africa, Europe and America. The exercise took 50 days.

Fingerprints and DNA samples were extracted from 48 people, Interpol noted.Also in September, the US-based Boeing planes manufacturer had announced that it had set aside USD2 billion as Financial Assistance Fund for assisting families of victims of the plane crash, which involves the Ethiopian Airlines crash.

The Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 nosedived just six minutes after leaving Bole International Airport to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport killing all on board.In the incident, Kenya was the worst-hit country losing 32 victims in the crash.

By Standard

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Ethiopia plane crash victims to be buried Thursday

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Families who lost loved ones in the ill-fated Ethiopian Airlines plane crash on March 10, 2019 will begin receiving their remains on Monday for burial, the Nation has learnt.

The Nairobi-bound Ethiopian Airlines flight ET-302 crashed in Bishoftu, a few minutes after take-off from Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa.

On Sunday, the family of John Quindos Karanja, who lost five relatives, told the Nation that they will be ferrying the remains ahead of burial on Thursday.

“We thank all Kenyans for the overwhelming emotional, spiritual and financial support towards our family. On Monday we shall be ferrying the remains of our loved ones after they were successfully identified. We plan to have the burial on Thursday, October 17,” said Mr Karanja.

The International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) announced in September that it had positively identified all the 149 passengers and eight crew who died in the crash.

Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock said the organisation had to rely on accurate DNA sampling from close blood relatives of the victims to make correct identification, which took the group six months.

The Nakuru family’s five members, among them Mr Karanja’s wife Ann Wangui Karanja, daughter Caroline Quinns Karanja and three grandchildren Ryan Njoroge (7), Kellie Wanjiku (5) and Rubi Wangui (9 months) perished in the plane crash.

The family from Kwa Amos village in Kabatini, Bahati in Nakuru County intended to slaughter three goats to celebrate the return.

Mr Karanja’s wife was to bring home her grandchildren who had been living in Canada when the tragedy struck.

A relative of another family from Kipkelion that lost their son – Cosmas Kipng’etich Rogony – also confirmed some members had travelled to Ethiopia to pick his remains.

“The family of the late Rogony travelled and are expected back this week,” said the relative.

Mr Rogony, who until his death was an employee of General Electric’s healthcare division, left behind a one-year-old daughter and a 27-year-old widow Miriam Wanja.

He hailed from Saoset village in Kipkelion West Sub-County.

In March, the families held prayers for their departed relatives but there were no caskets or bodies.

by Nation.co.ke

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Africa

Ethiopian Airlines jet makes emergency landing

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An Ethiopian Airlines jet made an emergency landing in Dakar with one of its engines on fire, though all 90 passengers and crew were unharmed, airport and airline officials said.

The Boeing 767 aircraft had just taken off from Dakar airport en route to Addis Ababa when the pilot asked to return and make an emergency landing, Tidiane Tamba, a spokesperson for the Senegal airport said.

Ethiopian Airlines confirmed one of its jets had suffered a “mechanical problem” and had safely returned to its point of departure, without giving more details on the cause.

The airline said all those onboard were safe.

The Dakar incident came after an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX crashed in March shortly after taking off from Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people onboard.

BY AFP

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