Opinion: Miguna’s Citizenship fight is a wake up call to Kenyans in Diaspora


Mukurima X Muriuki

Those who wrote and framed the current constitution, deemed the following:

“A citizen by birth does not lose citizenship by acquiring the citizenship of another country.”

Note that the word “Country” is followed by a full stop. The online oxford dictionary defines a Full Stop as a punctuation mark used to suggest that there is nothing more to say on a topic. In my words, a Full Stop denotes finality.

I have been wondering why the frontiers of the current constitution did not use a comma, or a colon, or a semi colon, and instead opted for a full stop. The more I search for answers, the more the Miguna debacle comes to mind, and then a realization that a citizen by birth should not lose his citizenship. Full stop. End of discussion.

Kenya is a Jus Sanguinis country, meaning that citizenship is acquired by having one or both parents who are Kenyan citizens. Miguna was born to Kenyan parents. His citizenship is therefore tied to his parents! For as long as Miguna’s parents remain Kenyans, Miguna will always be a Kenyan

Miguna’s current predicament is traced to 1998 when he acquired Canadian Citizenship. Back then, Kenya did not allow dual citizenship, and Miguna is deemed to have lost his Kenyan citizenship. By the way, if you marry a second wife, is the first wife deemed to have been automatically divorced?

This is not just about Miguna. And Diaspora should read the tea leaves. This case has redefined the essence of citizenship. Prior to the promulgation of the Kenyan constitution, there are many Kenyans who became citizens in their current country of residence. As such, for the period before the new katiba, they were ostensibly not Kenyan citizens. The logical interpretation here then is that children born to these Kenyans (after acquiring the new citizenship) are not Kenyans and can never hold office in Kenya! After all, they were born to non-Kenyans!

The current constitution stipulates that a non-citizen can hold land based on leasehold tenure only, not exceeding 99 years. Pray tell me, what will prevent some demented person from making a claim that land bought by a Kenyan in Diaspora (a citizen of a given country) prior to 2010 was improperly acquired, seeing that such a Diasporan was a “foreigner.”

Campaign financing comes to mind. If we are saying the Miguna ilk-those who acquired foreign citizenship prior to 2010 and did not re-apply to be Kenyans (sounds like they did not get re born to their parents)-are not Kenyans, what is the government doing to ensure such “foreigners” are not making monetary political contributions and influencing (outcome of) Kenyan politics!

When we talk about Kenyans in Diaspora sending money back home, is there a possibility that some of those sending money back home are not Kenyans as they may have lost their Kenyanism?

It is interesting that while the rest of the country has moved on and operating under the new constitution, when it comes to Diaspora and the idea of citizenship, the old constitution is in application! Why?