Kenya: Descendants of freed slaves in identity crisis

Published: 10/Nov/2019
Source: The Standard (Nairobi)

By Patrick Beja

Their forefathers were freed by the British Royal Navy more than a century ago but they do not feel truly free yet.

They are scattered into various coastal tribes and most of their land was arbitrarily alienated and taken away.

The descendants of freed slaves who were settled at Frere Town in Mombasa face an identity crisis and could soon be absorbed into Mijikenda tribes owing to lack of recognition by successive regimes.

Fredrick Uledi, 87, a second generation descendant of the freed slaves has had to apply several tricks including lying about his tribe to get a national identity card because his father’s ancestry could not earn him the documents.

“I have six children but three have identified themselves as Digo and the rest as Giriama. I am a Mnyamwezi and it is unfortunate that my children do not identify their father,” says Uledi.

He adds: “It is impossible to get IDs by saying that we are Mnyamwezi, Nyasa or Mgindo. We are told that such tribes are not in Kenya. We are forced to lie to get these documents. During the national population census we are grouped as others.”

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Themes: Apatridie, Discrimination, Cartes d’identité et passeports, Ethnique/Raciale/Religieuse
Regions: Kenya
Year: 2019