Source: Open Society Foundations
By Laura Bingham
This April, a mobile registration team was hard at work again in the Kibera neighborhood of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. For five days, a team offered people help in securing national identity cards—a document that also serves as vital proof of Kenyan citizenship—setting up in mosques, car parks and community halls that are frequented by members of the country’s Nubian minority.
Historically, the Nubians of Kibera have been denied citizenship by Kenya, despite having lived there continuously since before independence in 1963 (their ancestors were brought to what is now Kenya in the 19th and early 20th centuries as conscripts into the British colonial army).
Today Nubians still undergo a separate set of administrative steps in order to acquire national identity cards when they turn 18, including a process known as “vetting.” This entails appearing before a special committee designed to ascertain the Nubian applicant’s identity and entitlement to Kenyan nationality. The process is discriminatory: it only applies to certain ethnic groups, and Nubians are the only community impacted that does not live on the country’s borders.