After 50 years, stateless Shona still trapped in Kenya’s shadows

Published: 29/May/2015
Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation

In a village on the outskirts of Kenya’s capital Nairobi, 53-year-old Margaret Maposa embroiders seat covers for a customer, sitting with her niece Elizabeth Moyo, who is weaving a multi-colored basket.

Both women wear white headscarves, subtle markers of their membership of the 2,000-strong stateless Zimbabwean Shona community who have been living invisibly among Kenyans for more than 50 years.

Maposa moved to Kenya as a two-year-old with her parents in 1963. Her family stayed on after war broke out in Zimbabwe, then Rhodesia, in 1964 and continued until 1980.

“I do not know whether I’m Kenyan or Zimbabwean,” said the mother of five, in Kiambaa village. “I have lived, married and raised a family here but still I do not have any papers.”

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Themes: Discrimination, Ethnic/Racial/Religious, Statelessness
Regions: East Africa, Kenya
Year: 2015