World Bulletin / News Desk
“I seek your apology on behalf of other Kenyans, because Kenya has taken too long to consider you as our brothers and sisters. Today is the last day that you will be referred to as non-Kenyans,” President Uhuru Kenyatta told a group of Makonde protestors he met with at the State House Thursday.
Accompanied by human rights defenders, the group of some 600 protestors had trekked 500 kilometers from Kwale County to the capital Nairobi to seek an audience with Kenyatta to demand citizenship, said the protest organizers. About half were given an audience with the president, said the State House.
Holding signs reading “Grant Makonde citizenship and identity documents,” the crowds blocked major roads, bringing traffic to a standstill.
When they demanded an audience with the president at the State House, security officers could be seen preparing to engage them, but after an order from the presidency, they were granted access.
Kenyatta welcomed them in person and officially apologized on behalf of Kenyans and past governments for not addressing their issue of citizenship.
Kenyatta ordered government officials to immediately issue identity cards to all the Makonde people.
“Each and every one should get their identity cards so that when I visit them in December, they will come meet me as Kenyans. I give you one month to complete this process,” Kenyatta said, adding that those who own land should be given title deeds with immediate effect.
There are an estimated 30,000-40,000 Makonde people living along the coastal towns of Kenya, according to official Kwale County data.