In a significant and historic move, Kenya has granted citizenship to the long-stateless Pemba community, finally putting an end to their decades-long struggle for recognition. The momentous ceremony took place in Kilifi, where President William Ruto personally bestowed ID cards, birth certificates, and passports upon more than 7,000 members of the Pemba community.
With their newfound citizenship, the Pemba people now have access to crucial public services, including the right to attend schools, access healthcare services, and enjoy social security benefits. Moreover, they are now entitled to seek employment and contribute to society, which had been denied to them for far too long.
The history of the Pemba community in Kenya dates back around a century, when they first settled in the country. However, their presence was not officially recognized during Kenya’s independence in 1963, leaving them in a state of statelessness, devoid of legal rights and protection.
Origins tracing back to the island of Pemba in the Zanzibar Archipelago, off the coast of mainland Tanzania, the community now resides primarily along Kenya’s coastline. Throughout the years, they have faced numerous challenges due to their unacknowledged status, making this long-overdue recognition a cause for celebration and hope.
In recent times, Kenya has shown progress in addressing the issue of statelessness by extending citizenship to thousands of individuals from previously unrecognized groups like the Makonde and Shona.