7 years after, Makonde community enjoy major benefits of Kenyan citizenship
has been 7 years since the Makonde community moved from statelessness to gaining
In 2016, former President Uhuru Kenyatta declared Makonde as the 43rd tribe in Kenya and subsequently issued Kenyan identity cards to more than 1,000 members of the community.
My journey to trace the Makonde community members led me to Mwabungo village in Msambweni Constituency, Kwale County.
Here, I find Thomas Nguli, a man well-known for carving wood, a skill he inherited from his forefather.
The 63-year-old says this has been his home and before receiving the national identity card he had been living in fear and struggling to access government services.
”Getting government services and walking into government offices was a problem, you would even fear being seen,” he says.
His wood carving business had enabled him to save some money which he used to buy a piece of land in 2012.
His lack of an identification card hindered his effort to register the land under his name. His fortunes changed a year later when he became a citizen and got his Identification Card.
“I now feel free, I can even go to a bank to take a loan since I have a title deed. Even getting into hotels was difficult, but now I can just enter and provide an ID card,” Nguli adds.
In the neigbouring Kosovo village lives Esther Chivovo, a well-known salonist.
After dropping out of school in class 8 in 2010 she decided to venture into the beauty industry.
At first, she was employed and paid in cash. But in 2020, she started her business two years after being obtaining her identity card.
“I really dreamt of having my own business but at first I could not. After getting my ID card, I can now run my own business,” she says.
Now, members of the Makonde community can access services, and a number of them are working in various disciplined forces.
“Our youth are now also in the police service and army. We are greatful,” Nguli says.
In December 2022 president William Ruto admitted an additional community as Kenyan citizens – the Pemba tribe.
Members are now in the process of formalising citizenship and obtaining identity cards hoping that the gains from citizenship will reflect the community's aspirations in Kwale, Kilifi and Mombasa counties, where most members are located.
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