Road To Citizenship: The Makonde Community

The forefathers of the Makonde community were known to have first arrived in Kenya through Tanzania in 1930’s to work for the British. By the time Peace Tree Network first interacted with the community in 2015 they were still stateless and had not been recognized Kenyans. This follows the discriminative nature of their relationships with the locals right from being labelled as Waliokuja (Those who came). As a stateless nation, the makonde community lacked identity cards and as such went through various challenges just to sustain their livelihoods. This include the inability to enroll to instituitions, acquire basic financial service like having an Mpesa or bank account, financial strains as a result of being able to secure formal employment among others.

In 2017 the petition for citizenship by the Makonde community was granted through a solidarity move from the locals following the intermarriages, the CSOs, Religious Institutions and other relevant stakeholders. They trekked from Kwale County to State House Nairobi  in October 2016, championing for  the Makonde recognized as citizens in a bid to lessen their struggles.

Peace Tree Network therefore opted to document this history. While the Makonde got the recognition and citizenship that they had yarned for many years, this survey sought to find out how citizenship changed their livelihoods. This was done by examining access to the following socio-economic indicators; identification documents such as national identity card and birth certificates, employment opportunities in both the County and National government, financial services such as banks accounts and banks loans, educational assistance such as bursaries and sponsorship, government’s funds/grants for economic empowerment, social services such as cash transfers for the old, orphans and vulnerable children, persons living with disability and relief food and finally change in general societal perceptions about the Makonde community.

To help us document this history of the Makonde community in Kenya was Robert Waweru who has a vast knowledge on stateless persons in Kenya. He has written papers and published works centred on this and thus his interests and our works being in tandem made the publication of this research possible.