Nozisi Dube couldn't hide her joy on Tuesday, July 28 after she was finally granted Kenyan citizenship by the Ministry of Interior.
A member of the stateless Shona community which has existed in Kenya for more than 50 years without recognition from the government, 20-year old Nozisi had missed out on innumerable opportunities in life due to her status.
Most recently, she was unable to join the University of Nairobi (UoN) in pursuit of her dream of studying economics, as she lacked basic documentation such as a birth certificate, identification card or passport.
Her story was shared by renowned economist David Ndii after a chance meeting with the young girl on Monday, July 6, as she sought the help of civil society actors to secure the required documentation.
His efforts paid off as the Ministry of Interior intervened to help Nozisi obtain the crucial documents she required.
Ndii was quick to thank Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i on Tuesday, July 28 for his role in securing citizenship for Nozisi as well as other members of the Shona community in Kenya.
An excited Nozisi disclosed that she expected to receive her national identification card within the next three weeks, paving way for her to join campus.
"That's the smile and eternal joy of a stateless person after being granted the right to nationality. That was the best birthday gift ever. I just received the amazing news yesterday (July 27, 2020). I just turned 20 yesterday," she wrote.
Early members of the Shona community first arrived in Kenya from Zimbabwe in the 1960s, but have struggled for decades to be recognized as Kenyan nationals while also holding no status in Zimbabwe.
It is estimated that there are over 3,500 members of the Shona community living in the country.
Some, such as Nozisi, were born in Kenya but are denied a chance to participate fairly in business, travel, education, sports and more as they lack official recognition.
In 2019, the government committed to ending the statelessness problem, and began issuing birth certificates to Shona new-borns as well as IDs to older members of the community.
As a pointer to the serious consequences of statelessness, many members of the community have been forced to drop out of school as they lack documentation required to sit for national exams such as the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Educations (KCSE).