PLIGHT OF THE SHONA COMMUNITY

By Desnah Bittok and Faith Lutomia

On 16th October, 2020, Religious Leaders from the Christian, Muslim and Hindu faiths gathered at Uhuru Park in solidarity with a section of the Shona Community in Kenya to hold a prayer session. The prayers were to ask God to intervene for the government of Kenya to grant the Shona people their citizenship.

The community further sent a plea message to the President and relevant bodies to look into their statelessness and bring an end to their centuries of suffering and the challenges that come with being stateless.

The Shona Community Registration book which contained the names of all the Shona community members currently in Kenya, was dedicated to God in a prayer session led by Bishop Dr. Mark Kariuki, the Chairperson of the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya (EAK).

The Shona community have suffered through generations of statelessness and have been seeking citizenship recognition for centuries. The community originally came into the Country in the early 1960s from Zimbabwe as missionaries of a Christian denomination known as the Gospel of God Church. The Church was founded in 1932 by Prophet, Baba Johana Masowe after his first vision in 1914 as a young boy. The Church was registered in Kenya by the registrar of societies in 1968. They have successfully managed to open over 74 church branches in over 30 counties across the Country.

However, despite being in the Country for over 50 years, they have lived without citizenship and legal identity. They do not have identification documents that are essential in the provision of services. The stateless status has caused them to live a life of misery, persecution and poverty for many decades.

May God hear the cry and answer their prayers of the Shona community, so that they can at last have a place to call home.

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed how vulnerable they are as a stateless community in Kenya. They have faced severe challenges during this period, and they believe that only the right to citizenship can guarantee their enjoyment of all other fundamental rights and freedoms.

The community has been working with the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) for over two years now, in an effort to get them granted citizenship. In order to shade light on the Shona community which is often confused with the Wakorino Christian group in Central Kenya, KHRC undertook a research into the community profile of the Shona and their nationality status. The report titled ‘AFRICAN MISSIONARIES IN IDENTITY LIMBO –THE SHONA OF KENYA’ was published in October 2020 and gives an in-depth analysis of the Shona community from their origin and profile, family and culture, livelihood and social economic status and gives an analysis of their citizenship status. The report can be accessed at: https://www.khrc.or.ke/publications/221-african-missionaries-in-identity-limbo-the-shona-of-kenya/file.html.

The prayer day was live streamed by various media houses such as Hope TV, and this played a big role in highlighting the plight of the Shona people to an even larger audience.

May God hear the cry and answer their prayers of the Shona community, so that they can at last have a place to call home.

For the scripture says: But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Mathew 19:26.

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