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Nubians still suffer bias in IDs – community

Deliberate bottlenecks to turn our people away, a clear demonstration of discrimination, says leader

In Summary

•  Nubians in Kibera enraged by what they see as discrimination whenever they apply for IDs.

• Can't get vital documents for education, employment, healthcare. 

Zebuda Shaban, Nubian Rights Group Shaffi Hussein and Former Police officer Ahmed Khalil addressing the press yesterday at the Nubian offices in Kibera.
Zebuda Shaban, Nubian Rights Group Shaffi Hussein and Former Police officer Ahmed Khalil addressing the press yesterday at the Nubian offices in Kibera.
Image: TRIZZA KIMANI

The Nubian community in Kibera says it's discriminated against in applying for ID cards.

The community, through the Nubian Rights Forum, says their members are frustrated and subjected to excessive screening procedures that bar them from accessing the vital documents.

Speaking to the press yesterday, forum chair Shaffi Husein accused top government registration officials of discriminating against "people from the Nubian community purely on ethnic grounds, contrary to Article 27 of the Constitution".

“Government officials are trying to push things opposite to what the Constitution says. They are the only ones who know why we are being vetted,” the enraged activist said.

This comes against the backdrop of preparations by the government to launch the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS). 

Hussein claimed that youth from the community are asked to supply "outrageously numerous documents to confirm that they are Kenyans", besides the applications taking too long to be processed.

"These are deliberate bottlenecks to turn our people away, a clear demonstration of discrimination," he added. 

He claimed that Nubians are subjected to three levels of vetting by administrative officials. 

"They have to first start their application process through Nubian elders who fill in a form, then present an affidavit to the court on behalf of the applicant. Applicants go to national vetting in the second vetting," he claimed. 

They are finally taken to the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control (DCIC), Hussein said. 

Hussein said that denying Nubians the crucial national ID document, in the face of the impending population census, is a ploy to sideline them from sharing the national resources. 

"Those doing the vetting tend to intimidate the Nubian child and this leads to most of them foregoing to apply for this important document. This further tends to lock them out of education, employment opportunities and access to proper healthcare," he said.

The rights forum recorded a database of at least 32 cases of applicants who are yet to obtain their ID’s facing discrimination.

The documents that are required are a birth certificate, the mother or father's ID,  a Kenya Certificate of Primary Education result slip and leaving certificate.

Saloonist Zubeda Shaban, 25, first applied of an ID in 2016. She told the star that she went for vetting at Kibera’s DC's office but took her for rounds.

“I stayed for two years and went back to the DC's office. I've been going for vetting for three months, then they told me to go to the DO’s office.”

“The DO told me to give him my number and my mother’s cell and identification numbers. But he has never called me since.“I have a three--year-old baby who has no birth certificate yet. She needs to start school and I cannot register without an ID,” she said.

Ahmed Khalil,72, a former police officer said he lost his ID 10 years ago after he lost all of his documents when his home was raided. He tried to get a replacement but to no avail.

“I got a stroke after I lost all my documents. But once I felt better, I followed up on a replacement. I forwarded my affidavit twice. As a police officer I have never heard someone forward an affidavit two times in one subject,” he said.

The Nubians settled in Kenya in 1817. The ancient people come from the area between Aswan in Egypt and southern Sudan.