• The incoming Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Coordination of National Government must prioritize and investigate this matter.
• It really beats logic for government officials to be issuing ‘Internal Memo’ that are really taking away the rights of Kenyans.
As a young boy growing up in a small hamlet in Northern Kenya that lies on the Kenya – Ethiopia border, I always looked forward to national holidays.
I later became an active member of the school choir that used to entertain dignitaries including the District Officer.
Despite my interest, my late grandfather and the elderly in our village still lived with memories of the terror that was meted on them by a past regime. This was when the government was fighting an armed group that was trying to fight for the secession of the Northern Frontier Districts to join Somalia.
Of course, a lot has changed during our times. Like the rest of Kenya, we did enjoy the free milk in primary schools and considered myself like no lesser Kenyan, while aware of my Somali identity.
While the sentiment the older generation had is gone, and of course, the agitation to join the Somali Republic has withered largely due to the collapse of the central government, the pain of the emergency laws continues to haunt those of us who were born after this period.
Even though the Somali community in Kenya has really embedded itself with some of its sons and daughters holding very senior roles in government, the real struggle for the ordinary Kenyan Somali is overwhelming.
While we share these struggles with communities from other border districts, those of us from Northern Kenya face most of the discrimination from the border region tag.
This blatant marginalization is not just to infrastructure, it also applies to getting access to documents that you need.
We can’t wish away that devolution or the gains under the new constitution can whitewash decades of deliberate marginalization that continue to hibernate in the hearts of rogue civil servants.
This year of physical marginalization is now ostensibly replaced by efforts to curtail the rights of Kenyans.
The leadership of this great country, especially officials at the Department of Immigration, need not be a stark reminder of the years of the oppressive emergency laws of yesteryears.
Having sons and daughters serve in high positions is not enough. The people of the North and those from the border areas don’t need to suffer the choice made by the Almighty Allah to be born in a town or district bordering another country.
I was astonished to find out that the Department of Immigration is now extending to minors from border regions the unconstitutional ‘vetting’ and ‘interviews’ before one acquires a Kenyan passport.
This is unacceptable. To make it worse, the said vetting is not even communicated to the parents who apply for these documents and pay for the services.
The incoming Cabinet Secretary for Interior and National Administration must prioritize and investigate this matter.
It really beats logic for government officials to be issuing ‘Internal Memo’ that are really taking away the rights of Kenyans.
I am alive of the fact that we indeed have challenges with security that threatens the entire region and there should be caution when issuing documents, but this caution needs to apply to all.
Such grievances of marginalization, discrimination on employment coupled with extra-judicial killings are factors that terror groups use and hoodwink unsuspecting young people.
If the said ‘vetting’ is done for national security, it should have a time frame in which decisions are relayed.
The Kenya Constitution of 2010 and the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act, of 2011 are all very clear on that.
It, therefore, beats logic for officials at the Department of Immigration to issue directives that are not only illegal but ridiculous.
The question that begs an answer is how long these communities from border regions will continue to be subject to these interviews.
On the part of the communities from the border regions, I urge all Governors, MPs, and Senators from the border regions to condemn and petition the relevant offices to stop this wanton disregard of the law.
When President William Ruto visited my hometown of Mandera in the just concluded elections, he reassured residents of his commitment to better their lives.
As a journalist, I did interact with the President when he served as the Minister for Education and saw him rise through the ranks to the top office in the land and I am in doubt that he means well for the nation.
Like the rest of the nation, I wish him the best and hope that his administration will address the excesses and ensure that all his subjects live dignified life.
Abdilatif Maalim Adan is a former journalist and Member of the Public Relations Society of Kenya.