It is now official. Kenya has 43 tribes after the Makonde, who migrated from Mozambique more than five decades ago, were granted Kenyan citizenship and identity cards on Wednesday.
President Uhuru Kenyatta issued certificates of citizenship and national identity cards to the Makonde at a function at the Sawasawa Ground in Msambweni, Kwale.
The Makonde have struggled for years. They could not hide their joy at finally becoming Kenyans.
“Today is historic. Our friends who have lived as stateless people for decades will become Kenyans,’’ President Kenyatta said. “I’m sorry the process was delayed but today we welcome a new tribe.”
He said as part of affirmative action and the fact that the group had not benefited before, young people from the community would be given priority in recruitment into the police force, the military and as chiefs and assistants this year.
The President directed the Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, who was also present, to ensure that this is done this year. He said mobile Huduma Centres would be opened in Msambweni where a majority of the Makonde resides.
The President also directed that the community’s elderly be included in the government’s cash transfer programme.
Their spokesman Thomas Nguli had said their children could not get jobs because of lack of identity cards and other important documents.
“You have carried a burden that was not yours and you apologised on their behalf and this is because you are kind and God fearing,” said Mr Nguli.
Report by Njeri Rugene, Daniel Nyassy and Fadhili Fredrick.