The Shona will participate in their first ever General Election n Kenya nearly six decades after the community migrated from Zimbabwe.
Speaking to BBC Africa, the community secretary general Oliver Muregerera was excited to finally exercise his civil rights like other Kenyans.
"I am very happy to be voting for the first time. I am now a recognized Kenyan citizen. I am free," he said.
The community, consisting of about 4,000 people, was recognised by the government in 2020 after years of living as stateless citizens.
Mugerera additionally compared the recognition to receiving new life while recalling the struggle they underwent to be granted Kenyan citizenship.
Sadly, despite being born in Kenya, the 62-year-old recounted that he grappled with accessing basic amenities like education, health facilities, banking services, and employment opportunities.
On top of these, Muregerera was once arrested and arraigned in court after being accused of illegally migrating into the country.
Other community members were also ecstatic to participate in the General Election. About,1000 Shonas were registered to vote.
"The joy I have now is because I am finally a recognized citizen, I have an Identity Card and can contribute to choosing the next government," said Rudo Chiweshe.
While recognising the Shona as a Kenyan community, Interior CS Fred Matiang'i, lauded the government for working in tandem with the United Nations United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to end statelessness.
"Further to your instructions your Excellency and pursuant to all positions of the relevant law, we are according to 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," Matiang'i announced during the 2020 Jamuhuri Day Celebrations at Nyayo Stadium.
UNHCR seeks to end statelessness by 2024. It released a document titled, Handbook on the Protection of Stateless People, to help define statelessness.
The handbook serves as guiding principles for countries, but the remedies available to stateless persons vary by country.
"The 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons establishes the legal definition for stateless persons as individuals who are not considered citizens or nationals under the operation of the laws of any country.
"A person’s citizenship and nationality may be determined based on the laws of a country where an individual is born or where her/his parents were born," UNHCR says.
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