Source: The Star (Nairobi)
By Jill Cottrell-Ghai
Citizenship, as an idea, has two main aspects. One is a rather technical, legal, one, conveyed also by the word ‘nationality’. The other is a broad, active concept, of the person as a member of a community, involved with that community, participating in its decision making. The Constitution reflects both ideas, though it uses the word ‘citizen’ only in the technical sense.
The Constitution sees the people as positively involved in the life of the nation, with rights and responsibilities; the provisions on public participation particularly show this. And “Every person has an obligation to respect, uphold and defend this Constitution” says Article 3( 1 ) — not every citizen.
Until the Parliamentary Select Committee took its knife to the draft early in 2010, Constitution drafts included an article, on the duties of citizens, that was more concerned with the good citizen concept than the legal citizen concept. It included duties not to be corrupt, to pay taxes, and to protect the environment, as well as to vote. Most of these ideas now appear in the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act, 2011.