• IDs are a birthright, they cannot expire just as nationalities cannot expire
Surely, wajinga ni sisi.
I have just come from Twitter, where there is a debate on having expiration dates on Kenyan IDs. This conversation should not be happening in the first place, but we will get back to this later.
I want to start off by revisiting a baffling tweet I just saw under the conversation (without hashtag) ‘National ID’ on the social media platform. A young Kenyan woman proudly boasts about how Kenyan IDs are useless as she once failed to open an account with her passport and Kenyan ID in Texas.
Texas, ladies and gentlemen! As in, the United States of America. As in, a whole other country and continent. Surely, must we bring our stupidity out to shine in front of millions of people as we try to denigrate our motherland?
I mean, I was so dumbfounded by that tweet that I could not help but address the issue. National means within a country, ID is short for identification card. Put together, the term national ID means a document used to validate one’s identity in that particular country. How hard is this? Why would anyone in their right mind believe that a national ID is valid in another country?
Which brings us back to the main issue at hand. According to the reports I see on social media, the government plans to implement an ID with an expiration date and a microchip that will help us open bank accounts in foreign countries. The story is too ludicrous to be true, so in the meantime, let us treat it as the hypothetical issue it is.
First and foremost, the last time a Kenyan will use a national ID on foreign soil is when they sign in to enter an embassy in Nairobi. These foreigners give two hoots about our local identification cards. The moment you step on their soil, all they care about is your passport and visa. The validity of your visa will dictate how long you stay, get accommodation, open an account or be registered in any type of institution. The moment your visa is up, everything will be frozen.
The only time a Kenyan will need a Kenyan ID on foreign soil is at the Kenyan embassy. One must provide the Kenyan ID for most administrative procedures, such as birth registrations and passport renewals. Essentially, it would be the same process that you would have gone through in Kenya. If anything, foreign officials hate being given documents from a country that has no relation to them.
So the story about getting IDs for the sake of opening bank accounts on foreign land is a complete lie. If the government were to insist on the matter, then we would require gazetted notices from world leaders across the globe. Also evidence from our ‘leaders’ on how they opened their Swiss bank accounts with their Kenyan IDs.
Secondly and perhaps more importantly, the ID is a sacred document to every Kenyan who has applied for one. The process in itself is so rigorous and consuming that by the time you get the coveted document, you hold it more dear than any other thing in your wallet. How many stories have we had of people getting robbed and begging the thieves to please take everything except the ID?
Having an ID is a right to every Kenyan above 18 years of age. This is why getting an ID has been free since Independence. IDs can’t expire just as nationalities cannot expire. We are born Kenyans and we die Kenyans. At this rate, at some point, we will have to renew our birth certificates to prove that we are, in fact, continuously residents of our own land.