Kenya Begins Citizenship Registration for Stateless Pemba People

The government has commenced the registration of over 5,000 members of the Pemba Community ahead of conferment of Kenyan citizenship, following President William Ruto's directive.

The registration follows President Ruto's formal recognition of the Pemba as an ethnic community in Kenya on January 31, 2023.

Ruto gave the directive following recommendations of the National Assembly which in 2020 considered a petition to have the Pemba Community recognised as citizens of Kenya.

He observed that the Pemba Community is part of the 16 Swahili dialects of the traditional Swahili living in parts of Kwale, Mombasa and Kilifi counties in Kenya.

The Pemba community - whose population is estimated at more than 8,000 - have over the years petitioned for recognition as citizens of Kenya.

The community, other than being mostly domiciled in Kilifi county, is also scattered across Lamu, Mombasa and Kwale counties.

Their main economic activity is deep-sea fishing thus contributing immensely to the country's income accrued from maritime activities.

In 2021 the government granted 1,649 members of the Shona community - who had been stateless - with citizenship certificates. The Shona community hails from Zimbabwe, most of them having arrived in Kenya as missionaries and their quest for citizenship lasted for years.


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