• The lawmakers led by Kilifi North MP Owen Baya and activists had earlier petitioned government to review the long-standing plight for the recognition of Pembas.
• But according to Baya, it has taken long for the respective authority and government to act even after the approval of the report.
MPs and rights organisations are pushing for the recognition of the stateless Pemba community.
The National Assembly has adopted a report by the National Security and Administration Committee to grant Pembas citizenship.
The lawmakers led by Kilifi North MP Owen Baya and activists had earlier petitioned government to review the long-standing push for recognition of Pembas as Kenyans.
In March last year, the committee on the government's request visited the community and embarked on the process of acquiring data about the Pembas to prompt for their registration.
In 2016, both Makonde and Pembas marched to statehouse calling an end to statelessness.
The Makonde were later granted citizenship but Pembas were left out because they couldn't convince the government why they should be given citizenship.
They were disorganised and lacked enough details to support their fight for recognition.
However, on August 11 last year, after the committee presented their findings to parliament, according to Baya it was ruled that Pembas are Kenyans.
"The national assembly after reviewing the report confirmed that Pembas are the indigenous people of this nation and should be given their citizenship rights," he said.
Baya said the assembly on October 6 last year, also wrote to the State Department of Interior and Citizen Services to implement the assembly's recommendation on the status of the Pemba community.
But according to Baya, it has taken long for the respective authority and government to act even after the approval of the report.
He condemned the delay saying it's a violation of human and international rights to keep denying stateless residents citizenship.
There are currently, 7,123 registered Pemba community members in Kenya.
The majority live in Kwale, Kilifi and Mombasa counties.
They are mostly fishermen and the greatest sea divers.
Baya said the Pembas are among the Kenyan coastal indigenous communities who are not different from Wajomvu, Mvita and Changamwes.
He said the Pembas originated from Kenya, unlike the Makonde who are from Mozambique, and Shona from Zimbabwe.
Baya said if the two were granted citizenship then Pembas are not supposed to beg for recognition because they are Kenyans.
However, history states that Pembas originated from Zanzibar and are believed to have set foot in Kenya before World War II, same time the Makonde arrived.
But Lunga-Lunga MP Khattib Mwashetani contradicts the history saying the Pembas are formerly Kenyans and went to Tanzania for trade purposes.
"Our elders who were Pembas went out to Zanzibar to trade. There, they established a stopover in an island which is now known us Pemba Island," he said.
Mwashetani said the MPs conducted a thorough investigation on the origin of Pembas in both Kenya and Tanzania. He said all facts gathered show that the community is Kenyan.
The MP said it is unconstitutional to question Pemba's background yet there are Maasai among others who are also in Tanzania and they enjoy full Kenyan citizenship.
Mwashetani said there is need to end statelessness because the affected community suffers in silence.
The stateless can't own property, open bank accounts or efficiently access government services.
Kibra MP Imran Okoth said the new government policies are continuing to affect non-citizens.
He said majority can't afford universal healthcare services and equal rights on education because they lack national identity cards.
They also can't acquire fishing licenses and are forced to rely on casual hard labour jobs to fend for their families.
Okoth promised to fight for the recognition of the remaining stateless communities and promote equal human rights.
He urged the government to consider fast-tracking the process of recognising the Pembas as Kenyans.
Okoth said they have suffered a lot for no reason adding it is time to end statelessness.
The Pemba community chairman Shaame Hamisi and organising secretary Mwalimu Ali Mkasha have vowed to walk to State House if the government won't address their grievances.
"We are giving the government three months, if they wouldn't have responded we will trek up to Nairobi," they said.
Kenya Human Rights Commission official Robert Waweru promised to support the Pembas until they get their citizenship.
(Edited by Bilha Makokha)