Interior Ministry Begins Registration of 5,000 Pemba Community Member After Ruto Directive

Pemba Community
Kilifi Governor Maitha Gideon Mung'aro (shaking hands from right), Immigration and Citizen Services PS Julius Bitok (looking on) and a group of government officials launch registration of 5,000 members of Pemba Community at the Karisa Maitha grounds in Kilifi on Wednesday, March 1, 2023.

The Kenyan government will finally recognise the Pemba Community as citizens thanks to President William Ruto’s intervention.

This is after national registration exercise of the community kicked off in Kilifi County on Wednesday, February 1.

The exercise which is being conducted by the Interior Ministry aims to register 5,000 members of the community as Kenyan citizens.

Speaking during the event, Immigration and Citizen Services Principal Secretary Julius Bitok remarked that the government will seek to register more communities in the country.

members of the Pemba Community pose for a photo on Tuesday, January 2023.

He stated that Kenya will review the statelessness of other unrecognized communities in the country.

The Pemba community started the struggle for recognition in 1980 when the elders visited Kwale and Kilifi, district commissioner’s offices in a bid to get recognized as part of Kenyan citizens.

Their efforts started what would become a 43-year-long journey in the struggle for self-recognition.

On December 12, 2022, Ruto in his Jamhuri Day speech declared that he would recognize the Pemba community as the 46th tribe in Kenya.

“We must continue to resolve injustices of a historical character that have unfairly relegated people to the margins of statelessness when their inalienable rights of citizenship are guaranteed under the Constitution,” Ruto announced back then.

On January 30, Ruto through a gazette notice followed on his speech by legally gazetting the community as part of Kenyan citizens.

“The Pemba people from the Coast of Kenya be recognised as an ethnic group in Kenya and be issued with relevant identification documents in accordance with the constitution and the law,” he ordered.

The community believed to have migrated to Kenya from Zanzibar in the 1930s now has national identity documents to prove their citizenship.

They join other formerly stateless communities including the Makonde from Tanzania and the Shona from Zimbabwe who were given citizenship status in 2017 and 2020 respectively.

Going forward, the Pemba Community will become part of the sixteen Swahili dialects in Kenya.

A section of members of the Pemba Community posing for a photo on Tuesday, January 31, 2023.