, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 12 – Minority communities in Tana River district are demanding official recognition in the Population and Housing Census that is scheduled to be held next month.
They claim they do not have a tribal code in the census questionnaire and are normally grouped as other communities resulting to unequal access to national resources.
"Here we are a very small community. And we do not have a leader and to say the truth, since the colonial times until now, a tribe without a leader is one that does not have any rights," a leader of the Galje’el Community Nuno Abdi said.
He is blaming the side-lining to lack of organised leadership among the minority communities.
"This is because we don’t have a chief, councillor or anyone in government to defend our rights," Mr. Abdi said.
A resident at Galjeel village Haji Ahmed said they plan to ignore the census set for August 24th if they would not be accorded recognition.
"The very first time that people were being counted in the census, only a few were considered. There were others who even refused since they wanted their code numbers for the census and this has not changed," he explained.
They say tribal coding has remained constant in the census yet some communities such as the indigenous Ogiek, Ilchamus, and Chonyi do not have a code.
"There are some of us who have refused to be counted completely because we are being grouped under larger communities and being referred to as others (minority communities)," Mr. Abdi said.
The Galje’el, were declared non Kenyans in 1989, following a screening exercise conducted by government security forces.
The exercise was conducted to establish Kenya’s minority groups’ loyalty to the then Government, and to verify the nationality of Kenyans of Somali descent.
The group is a minority community that lives along the Kenyan and Somali borders.
The government confiscated 56 identification documents belonging to members of the Galje’el.
The Galje’el community has grown to approximately 4000 people currently.
Most of the members say they have been denied national identification documents since they were displaced from their ancestral land in the Coast Province a decade ago.