I don’t want, may not need Huduma Number, but getting it just in case

The government has more than enough data on Kenyans already

In Summary

• With all the stories flying around about the consequences of not having one, risk of not registering outweighs concerns.

Mzee Enock Shiveka, 89, during Huduma Namba launch in Kambi Mwanza, Kakamega
Mzee Enock Shiveka, 89, during Huduma Namba launch in Kambi Mwanza, Kakamega

A couple of weeks ago, I was scouring my social networks in search of someone, anyone, but most probably a Kenyan, who could help me make an M-Pesa transaction.

By accident, I came across an announcement by the Kenya High Commission in Pretoria that they would be in Cape Town over the Madaraka weekend to sign people up for Huduma Number.

I am aware there’s been a hue and cry over this registration, and while my gut instinct would ordinarily have been to join those who claim not to be boarding, cold-blooded clear thinking suggested otherwise.

I think the whole thing is unnecessary, as surely the government has more than enough data on Kenyans who have birth certificates (and death certificates, for that matter), national ID cards, passports, driving licences, e-Citizen and KRA Pin numbers.


However, with all the stories flying around about the consequences of not having one, and living abroad as I do, I wasn’t about to take the risk of not registering, only to find that I can’t renew my passport, or whatever other nightmarish bureaucratic scenario the Kenya government dreams up for those who don’t have the number of this beast they have created.

Also, when the smelly stuff hits the fan, the support of the people on Twitter who said they weren’t boarding, even though they may have done so secretly, won’t change the fact that I have no passport, or whatever.

It not quite the same, but the scenario reminded me of those people at school who made a big deal of saying they wouldn’t be doing their revision for a particular subject and made a show of partying when others were studying, only for them to come out tops in the test or exam. Meanwhile, they had actually had been revising all term, or would hit the books before going out to parties, and so were well covered.

I discovered a few things in my quest to register. First, there are a heck of a lot more Kenyans living in Cape Town and across the Western Cape Province than I thought. Secondly, many of them seem to be on some WhatsApp group, where they receive updates about the High Commission’s activities.

And finally, our much-touted digital government seems to have made no allowance for the Huduma System crashing two days in a row. Meaning that many of those who had queued up as early as Friday morning to register still hadn’t done so by Sunday evening.

As for those of us who found out late and turned up on the Sunday morning, we were promised that as the High Commission had our details, they would get in touch and tell us when they’d be visiting town again to catch us up. However, in my experience of communicating with the High Commission, the Nazarene carpenter may return to Earth before that happens.

For now, I’ll have to be content with the fact that I am halfway to being registered for something I don’t really want and probably don’t really need, but somehow must have.

As for the M-Pesa transaction, a friend in Johannesburg knew a guy, and I was sorted out.



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