Uhuru Grants Citizenship to Shonas From Zimbabwe

President Uhuru Kenyatta inspects a guard of honour mounted by the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) upon arrival at the Nyayo National Stadium during the Jamhuri Day celebrations on Saturday, December 12, 2020

President Uhuru Kenyatta granted Kenyan Citizenship to 1,670 members of the Shona community who relocated to Kenya from Zimbabwe between the 1930s and 1950s.

1,300 members of various Rwandese communities living in Kenya were also recognised. 

The groups alongside the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had been pushing for the recognition of the groups who migrated to Kenya, intermarried and settled for decades. 

They came to Kenya as missionaries and established a church in Nairobi before settling in Kinoo, Kiambu County as illegal immigrants.

88-year-old Mofat Ngwabi (Shona) poses for a photo with his wife and family in Nairobi

"Your excellency the President of Kenya, since 1930, various groups of citizens who were not originally from our country moved and migrated into Kenya. Some of those include the Shona from Zimbabwe and some communities from Rwanda

"Further to your instructions your Excellency and pursuant to all positions of the relevant law, we are according citizenship to 1,670 members of the Shona community and 1,300 members of various Rwandese communities descendants of those who were living in our country since the 1930s and 1950s," Interior CS Fred Matiang'i announced during the Jamuhuri Day Celebrations on Friday, December 12, at Nyayo Stadium. 

20 representatives of the Shona Community were presented with their citizenship documents in the presence of President Kenyatta. 

In 2017, the Head of State also recognised the Makonde from Mozambique and Asians as Kenyan communities. 

The KNHCR agitated for the Shona issue after its success with the Makonde,  who had also been statelessness since their arrival in the 1940s as labourers in sugar and sisal plantations at the Coast.

Raouf Mazou, UNHCR director of Africa Bureau, said, “In the Great Lakes region, the main drivers of statelessness include discrimination, conflict in the law, migration before independence and lack of proof of nationality.”

Recognising Kenya's Shona community as legal citizens promotes the United Nation's goal to end statelessness by 2024.

Members of the Shona community protest at the County Government headquarters in Kiambu in 2019
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