unrealized rights – Is Kenya Diaspora considered a “Minority or Marginalized community, a constituency or a 48th County or NONE”?

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50 Years of Kenya independence: unrealized rights-Is
the Kenya Diaspora considered a “Minority or
Marginalized community, a constituency or a 48th
County or NONE”?


These are, indeed, exciting times for our Nation “Kenya” – a Nation of Change and Novelty.
New Constitution, New President, New generational change and New system of
government.
What Does the Bible Say About Meaning Of Jubilee?
– The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news
to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight
to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed – Luke 4:18
– We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not
to please ourselves – Romans 15:1
– By this I know that you delight in me: my enemy will not shout in triumph over me –
Psalm 41:11
– And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works – Hebrews
10:24
– Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide
never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother – Romans 14:13
Jubilee according to the hard-to-read Old Testament book – The Leviticus 25:35-38
– Poverty and decay are great grievances, and very common; the poor ye have
always with you. Thou shalt relieve him; by sympathy, pitying the poor; by service,
doing for them; and by supply, giving to them according to their necessity, and
thine ability. Poor debtors must not be oppressed. Observe the arguments here
used against extortion: “Fear thy God.” Relieve the poor, “that they may live with
thee;” for they may be serviceable to thee. The rich can as ill spare the poor, as
the poor can the rich. It becomes those that have received mercy to show mercy.
Preface
Half a century of Kenyan nationhood is an extraordinary achievement – a Golden Jubilee that
Kenyans worldwide have every right to celebrate with gusto. The proud heritage we have
built together since Kenya gained its independence from British colony on December the
12th, 1963, has allowed us to embrace our legacy, our sovereignty and take full responsibility
for our destiny, our hopes and our dreams. To be sure, there remain areas in which we have
fallen short, but we must continue on the path of growth and development for the
betterment of our Nation and our People.
Fellow Kenyans, amidst the celebratory spirit this 50 years of our Independence and just
concluded peaceful general elections of its kind under the new dispensation, let us devote
ourselves to ensuring that Kenya remains, for every citizen – at home or abroad – a country
of boundless opportunities. Even as I thank you for your numerous forms of contributions to
Kenya over the years, let us remember fellow Kenyans in less fortunate circumstances this
Independence. 50 Years of Kenya independence: unrealized rights
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That is ultimately how we can deliver on the promise of Independence, making “Kenya – A
Nation of Change and Novelty”, more than a theme but instead a reality in which every
man, woman, and child, bonds together by the strength derived from our “Kenyanness –
Kenyanism”. Let us show the world that …..sweet Kenyan is now on the move…. as our
greatest National Anthem implores us to do.
Acceptance declaration by H.E. the President-elect Hon Uhuru Kenyatta: “Today we celebrate
the triumph of democracy; the triumph of peace and the triumph of nationhood. We dutifully
turned out; we voted in peace; we upheld order and respect for the rule of law and we
maintained the fabric of our society. That is the real victory today. A victory for our nation. A
victory that demonstrates to all that Kenya has finally come of age. That this, indeed, is
Kenya’s moment”.
Although the Government of Kenya (GoK) acknowledges the significant and immense role of
Kenyans living abroad to her National Development Agenda as exemplified in Vision 2030
which envisages engaging the Diaspora in nation building, the big question pending is the
Kenya Diaspora considered a “Minority or Marginalized community, a constituency or a
48th County or NONE”?, will Kenyan government consider having a political representative
or appointee in Uhurus’ government for Diaspora community?, if there is a process
undergoing, what is the progress?.
The statistics released by Central Bank of Kenya indicates that the Diaspora is the 4th foreign
income earner of the government; this has left most Diaspora community wondering why
the government failed to nominate or include them on the parliamentary, senatorial or
county representation. We had a number of Diaspora aspirants and candidate in the 4th
March 2013 elections but none of the political parties nominated Diaspora returnees whom
they have courted previously in their special interest lists. Most people do feel they need a
direct political representation to contribute directly on most reforms being undertaken in
the country currently and in the future.
Before underlining the facts and requests, I here commend His Excellency the President of
the Republic of Kenya Hon Mwai Kibaki for the national achievements under his leadership
during the two term 10 years tenure. Just to mention a view : secured new Constitution and
the amendment of the controversial bills, Road infrastructure, Energy, Free education, Fight
against terrorism by hunting down Al-shabaab militants inside Somalia and more
importantly the political stability in the country. I will also thank my fellow Kenyans on the
peaceful conduct of the election and especially during the uncertain and anxious period of
presidential results petition proceedings awaiting the verdict of the Supreme Court of Kenya.
On Saturday the 30th March 2013 at 17:04 after a 14-days legal battle, the white smoke is
finally out of the Supreme Courtroom…, (Verbatim: CJ Dr Mutunga – General Election was
free and fair. CJ says Kenyatta and Ruto were validly elected). Let’s now close the chapter of
politicking on elections and embark on nation building. No looser no winner, we are all
winners. Kenya ni moja. God Bless Kenya! God Bless Kenyan people!
Fellow Kenyans dear Patriots, lets now embrace each other and get down on building Kenya.
I also commend the Kenya Supreme Court’s judges for doing a commendable job and
proving that they are fair and fearless. I thank the Prime Minister Hon. Raila Odinga for
turning to court in order to resolve the election petition dispute, and for accepting the
Supreme Court’s decision and conceded defeat. This the best gift for our Nation and our
people during this year’s Easter festive. 50 Years of Kenya independence: unrealized rights
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Kenyans were pleased by well articulated lawyers / counsels representing all parties involved
in the petition, for their qualities that were displayed inside and outside the courtroom, such
as interpersonal skills, negotiating skills, fearlessness and good writing skills. This petitions
proceeding showcased some of the country’s star and best lawyers. Kenyans are proud and
now have an immense faith in the highest court in our country.
Finally, congrats your Excellency the 4th President of the Republic of Kenya Hon Uhuru
Muigai Kenyatta, I had the same feeling all along the win was forthright. Now unite all
Kenyans! Mungu Akubariki!
As I always cited: Be the change you want to see – Be part and parcel of the changes our
country is going through. For the elected leaders, they should know that it’s not business as
usual – to behave like the Lords of poverty. The time when politicians seduced voters with
empty promises and once elected, they disappear and remain inactive for five years or
become the champions of BIG salaries in parliament is buried with the 10th Parliament. We
have a good example of some MPs who claimed the proposed salaries by Salaries and
Remuneration Commission of Kenya (SRC) were an insult even before being sworn-in.
Without focalizing on issues, we must now keep-off politics and start working, pull together
for the betterment of our Nation and our People.
In one of my articles concerning the Diaspora Development Agenda, I had request the
President-elect Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission
(IEBC), the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) and the relevant
authorities to consider the Kenya Diaspora a constituency or a 48th County. Although the
Diaspora doesn’t have Official County or constituency status, with an approximate of 3
million Kenyans and with annual remittances of about USD $1.7billion to Kenya, Kenya
Diaspora is largest and wealthiest of all. Kenya is ripe for the inclusion of the Diaspora in the
nation building and therefore, there’s need to set-up the necessary mechanism to allow
Kenyan in Diaspora to vote in 2017 election. In order to avoid pointless, energy and time
consuming petitions after every election, and the tedious exercise to choose the six elective
positions – President, Member of Parliament, Senator, Governor, County Women and Ward
Representatives in one time, I proposed the consideration of dividing the election in to two
periods in the same election year. Example: Presidential, Parliamentary and Senatorial, then
Gubernatorial, Women Representatives and Ward Representatives within a 6 to 8 months
interval like in most European countries.
IDENTIFYING OPPORTUNITIES
FOR THE DIASPORA
UNDER VISION 2030
The importance of the Diaspora has been recognized within “Kenya Vision 2030”, Kenya’s
national development policy blueprint, where it has been highlighted as one of the flagship
projects in the financial sector. Subsequently, the Kenyan government has recognized the
need to tap into the resources of the Diaspora, and this is enshrined in the new constitution
promulgated in August 2010. For example, dual citizenship and voting rights can now be
enjoyed by the Kenyan Diaspora.
The Vision 2030
Vision 2030 is a long term development blueprint that is geared towards transforming the
country into a middle income economy. It is a deliberate effort by the government to raise 50 Years of Kenya independence: unrealized rights
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the quality of life for Kenyans, and as such various stakeholders have been involved in its
formulation, planning and implementation process. Vision 2030 was preceded by the
Economic Recovery Strategy which successfully spurred the requisite growth in the key
sectors of the economy.
The Vision 2030 has 3 pillars namely: Economic; Social; and Political.
Economic – Covers agriculture, trade, manufacturing, tourism, financial services and
information technology. The aim is to maintain a sustained economic growth of 10% per
annum for and sustaining the same until 2030. The goal is to create as many jobs as possible
and provide a conducive environment for fostering entrepreneurship
Social – covers initiatives under environment, health, education (access, quality), gender,
disability, and affordable housing among others.
Political – Focuses on governance structures
An issue based, people centred, result – oriented, accountable and democratic political
system.
Cross cutting issues include foundations such as infrastructure, science and technology etc.
The Constitution has a chapter on leadership and integrity which highlights values.
Role of the Diaspora in implementation of Vision 2030
i. Leveraging the networks and expertise for Kenya’s development
ii. Take advantage of the Constitution – dual citizenship, voting rights
iii. Assist in building capacities of Kenyans back home in various sectors
Diaspora Policy
Kenya ratified the amendment to the African Union (AU) Constitutive Act Article 3(q) that
“invites and encourages the full participation of the African Diaspora as an important part of
our continent in the building of the African Union”. Under the Presidential Circular No. 1 of
2008 on Organization of Government, pronounces the Diaspora Office as a major portfolio
under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In this regard the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
incorporated Diaspora Diplomacy as one the key pillars in its Ministerial Strategic Plan and
established a fully fledged Directorate to handle Diaspora Affairs.
Moreover, the Kenyan Foreign Policy document has also incorporated Diaspora diplomacy as
one of the five key pillars of Kenyan foreign policy. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a
Draft Diaspora Policy in January 2012. Policy Paper provides the strategies to mainstream
the Kenyan Diaspora Communities into the development agenda. The Policy emphasizes the
need for creating an enabling environment to address identified challenges.
Diaspora has contributed significantly in alleviating financial burden through reliable and
stable sources of foreign exchange and development financing. Some of the contributions
include the Millennium Development Goal of eradicating poverty and hunger. The current
contributions from the Diaspora surpass international aid received from the traditional
sources of foreign exchange earners.
Diaspora resources include remittances, skills (Human and capital) and technology transfer
(social network). Remittances & investment or Economic Capital includes financial
remittances to households, monetary contributions to special projects, charities, disaster 50 Years of Kenya independence: unrealized rights
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reliefs, tourism and exports. Human Capital: Skills, Knowledge and Technology Transfers –
Information Communication Technology (ICT). Social Capital: Creation and expansion of
networks and Establishment of business partnerships are some of the immense contribution
by the Diaspora.
Intended mission for Kenya missions abroad
• Encourage formation of Diaspora groups and initiate activities like sports, cultural
days, quarterly meetings, welfare programs as well as engage host country on issues
affecting Kenyans.
• Link the Diaspora with institutions in Kenya to facilitate transfer of knowledge and
technology.
• Institutionalizing policies and creating an enabling environment by the Kenya
Government e.g. the establishment of the Directorate within the Foreign Affairs
Ministry to handle Diaspora matters.
• Organizing conferences and forums that bring all the stakeholders together –
acknowledge contribution by the Diaspora to development; build trust, increase
communication, platform to share about Vision 2030, the Millennium Development
Goals and other advocacy issues touching on the country’s development. Embassies
and foreign missions need to be pro-active.
• Facilitation of effective legislation and regulatory framework to embrace desired
environment that will help maximise Diaspora contribution in all aspects that is
financial contributions, investments, skills transfer, social networks and partnerships.
Genuine reforms would help cultivate a sense of belonging, hope and confidence to
migrants.
• Provide link between Kenyan communities and local foreign based communities
Nota Bene: With the majority of the presidential, gubernatorial and senatorial candidates
during the just concluded election being the former Diaspora, none of them individually or
their alliances mentioned the Diaspora in their manifestos.
Draft Diaspora Policy 2011
Kenyans in Diaspora express their sincere appreciation for the steps taken by the Kenya
Government to develop an explicit policy on Kenyans in Diaspora, which demonstrate
recognition by the Government that we remain an important part of the community.
Kenyans in Diaspora welcome the objective of the policy to provide a framework for our
effective contribution to national development as well as to identify interventions that
address challenges they face in their host countries while remaining connected to Kenya.
Kenyans in Diaspora had several concerns beginning with the lack of Diaspora input in the
formulation of that policy. This was clearly exhibited in the way the policy document was
written. The document basically seeks to answer the question: What can the Diaspora do for
the Government of Kenya as opposed to what can the Kenya Government do for the
Diaspora. By the definitions provided in the new constitution Kenyans in Diaspora are
Kenyan citizens regardless of our current geographic location or citizenship choices we’ve
had to make.
There are three key pillars of engagement we could use as foundation for building a
relationship between Diaspora community and the Government: Engaging the Diaspora as
development partners, Reversing brain drain and Increasing representation. 50 Years of Kenya independence: unrealized rights
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GLANCE FACTS & PROPOSALS
Kenya is a multi-ethnic state, composed of 42 officially recognised tribes. The 2009 census
figures give the ethnic composition as follows (out of a total population of 38.6 million):
Kikuyu 17%, Luhya 14%, Kalenjin 13%, Luo 10%, Kamba 10%, Kisii 6%, Mijikenda 5%, Meru
4%, Turkana 2.5%, and Maasai 2.1%. About 9% of the population consists of smaller groups
below 1% each, and Non-African groups (Arabs, Indians and Europeans) are estimated to
total to about 1%.
Diaspora remittances, along with tourism, tea and horticulture are among Kenya’s leading
foreign exchange earners.
It is clear that the Kenyans in Diaspora significantly impact the Kenyan economy. According
to the World Bank report on remittances and migration report, in 2010 we sent USD
$1.7billion to Kenya in the form of remittances. In spite of the state of the world economy, in
2011 we increased that amount by 69% to USD $2.46 billion. As such we contributed 5.2% of
GDP in 2010 with an increase of 71% in 2011 to 7.3% of GDP. A recent surge has enabled
remittances to overtake traditional sources of external capital flows, prompting the
Government of Kenya to consider ways through which it could engage Kenyans in the
Diaspora to increase their contribution to national development. Please keep in mind that
the amounts reported are only the traceable funds and does not include services provided to
Kenya in the forms of technology transfer, informal tourist promotions or medical missions.
The international community is suffering from donor fatigue. The large funding organizations
like the World Bank Group, IMF and the United Nations are concerned about the continued
dependence of developing nations like ours on foreign assistance. We are aware that there
has been a big push in the last decade to get countries that have significant Diaspora
populations with the obvious means like ours to participate in development projects in their
respective homelands. In April 2011, the World Bank granted Kenya USD $500,000 to
support its efforts to engage the Diaspora in development. The grant aimed to assist the
development of Kenya’s Diaspora Engagement Strategic Policy Framework and its associated
action plan. Instead of setting up inefficient Government bodies or staffing Diaspora offices
in the Prime Ministers’ office and the Directorate in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with
people who are completely disconnected with the Diaspora or who have very little stake in
seeing the successful inclusion of the Diaspora, we should be proactively solicited for people
who are able and willing to do that job. And since those staffers would be active members of
the Diaspora community they would understand the challenges we are facing, they would
comprehend the potential we represent and they would be more effective.
Mexico has implemented this model successfully now for several years. It is not necessary
for us to reinvent the wheel; all we have to do is borrow from them.
Diaspora VOTE
Kenyans in Diaspora have been discriminated, disenfranchised, suppressed, disinherited,
disowned, bastardised, declared persona non grata and thrown under the bus by politicians
and the IEBC. In pretext of complex logistic issues, high costs of the exercise and time limit,
only Kenyans residing in fellow East African Community countries Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda
and Burundi were allowed to VOTE in the March 4th 2013 General Elections out of the
estimated 3 millions Kenyans in the outer Diaspora. The argument has been made that the
constitution calls for progressive access to the ballot for the Diaspora. 50 Years of Kenya independence: unrealized rights
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“If you look at the Constitution, the clause that actually allows the Diaspora to vote simply
states that the Electoral Commission is charged with the responsibility of gradually
progressively making sure that the Diaspora votes. The DEVIL is in that word progressive”
While the Kenya Government is still grappling with the idea of ballot access in the Diaspora
1. 25 countries in Africa have institutionalized it, with Namibia being the earliest in 1989
2. Rwanda allows its Diaspora to vote at all 3 levels, Presidential, Legislative and
Referendums
3. Senegal in February of this year held their election. They had 50 polling stations in
the USA alone. Keep in mind that in 2011 Senegal’s GDP was $14.29 billion while
Kenya’s was $33.62billion.
This is unacceptable in the 21st century “Digital Generation” for a country that is undergoing
a very important season in the process of democratization.
NB: If South Sudan “the youngest Country” can do that, then why can’t we do it? I think we
can use them as a case study.
The New Constitution of Kenya in Chapter 4, section 38, subsection 3 states: “Every adult
citizen has the right, without unreasonable restrictions:
1) To be registered as a voter
2) To vote by secret ballot in any election or referendum”
Section 82 (2) – Legislation required by clause (1) (d) shall ensure that voting
at every election is—
(a) simple;
(b) transparent; and
(c) takes into account the special needs of—
(i) persons with disabilities; and
(ii) other persons or groups with special needs.
Article 83 (3) – Implementation: Administrative arrangements for the registration of voters
and the conduct of elections shall be designed to facilitate, and shall not deny, an eligible
citizen the right to vote or stand for election.
In the next 2017 elections, we demand that the Kenyan Government explore all options
available to ensure the most convenient voting process is set up, preferably online voting. If
online voting cannot be implemented and we have to resort to specified Diaspora polling
stations, there should be a process in place to ensure that polling stations are conveniently
spread out in accessible locales where Kenyan citizens living abroad can travel to vote
without incurring any expenses.
Diaspora Representation
In our view the better way to go about this is to allow each ministry to focus on the matters
that affect them individually and when necessary they would engage the Diaspora through a
centralized office that would represent the Diaspora. As such, we are proposing the creation
of a Diaspora office under the Office of President or a Directorate in the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs – Kenyans Overseas and to scrap the Diaspora office in the Prime Ministers’ office. In
our response to the Diaspora Draft Policy document, we provided the details of how we see 50 Years of Kenya independence: unrealized rights
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this office functioning, who should staff this office and how information from the Diaspora
would be filtered to the staff members at this office.
Lastly but not least on the issue of representation, there is the matter of the Diaspora
Representative in Parliament, in the House of Senate or as a 48th county. If we are truly
going to be included in the development of our country, then it must be on all levels:
economic, social AND political. Whatever decisions are made by the legislature affect us, be
it directly or indirectly. As citizens of Kenya, we should have a place at the table when any
decisions are being made. And this brings us to the last point.
In our view, we should be represented in Parliament and we should be viewed as a 48th
county, because Kenyans in Diaspora continue to play a vital role in contributing to the
development of the country in terms of investments, remittances and engagement in
political process and other development process. At the moment, the only representation
the Diaspora has is a Diaspora desk at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and at the Prime
Minister Office and these desks are manned by civil servants who are disconnected
completely with Diaspora Kenyans.
Bill of Rights
Chapter IV – The Bill of Rights, Part I: General Provisions Relating to the Bill of Rights
Articles 19-59: provides for a plethora of rights and freedoms. Article 56: specifically
provides for the affirmative action for minorities and marginalized groups through
programmes designed to ensure that they participate and are represented in governance
and other spheres of life, are provided special educational and economic opportunities,
access to employment, programmes to develop their cultural values, languages and practices
and also ensure that they have reasonable access to water, health services and
infrastructure.
Citizenship
By recognizing the right to vote by the Diaspora and dual citizenship, the new constitution
paves the way for Diaspora communities, who live across boundaries to benefit, guaranteed
right for all eligible Kenyans to vote in future elections and referenda.
The Kenya Immigration and Citizenship Act of 2011 makes provision for the acquisition, loss
and regaining of citizenship, duties and rights of citizens; issuance of travel documents;
entry, residence and exit out of Kenya; and for connected purposes
Representation of Marginalized Groups
Article 100 of our constitution is supposed to complete provisions of Article 56 by allowing
parliament to legislate law which will help to put clear recognition, promote and protect
interests of minority/marginalized groups which include women, youth and people with
disabilities.
According to Article 260, marginalized group is defined as a group of people who, because of
laws or practices before, on, or after the effective date, were or are disadvantaged by
discrimination on one or more grounds in Article 27 (4). Article 56 of the Kenyan constitution
talks about the rights of minority groups and also stipulates the affirmative actions/
policies/programmes to ensure that the marginalized participate in governance, are
provided special opportunities in education, economic fields and access to employment. 50 Years of Kenya independence: unrealized rights
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Implications for policy
Efforts by the Kenyan government to engage the Diaspora in national development are still
at the initial stages. In addition, limited studies on the link between migration, remittances
and development in Kenya hamper the government’s ambitious efforts. These observations
hold true for internal migration. There is a need for a policy on migration both internally and
for engaging Kenyans in the Diaspora; this could be an avenue for achieving a sustainable
regional development process in Kenya. Specifically, the formation of organizations of
Kenyans in the Diaspora need to be encouraged and institutionalized. Not only will this
improve the dearth of data on migrants and their socio-economic activities, it will also serve
as a trusted official way to harness their resources. These resources, which could be both
material and non-material, could be channelled towards the implementation of selected
social service delivery projects and programmes under Vision 2030 and their success.
Grievances from Diaspora
The Kenya Diaspora, we are no more spectators. It’s time to fight for our Rights!
Kenya’s new constitution “is a clean break with the past” and provides several avenues for
the pursuit and strengthening of all Kenya peoples’ personal and collective rights
The Road Map to Diaspora Engagement in National Development states that all Kenyans
have a right to inclusion, representation and participation in national affairs.
We are therefore not asking for extraordinary treatment at all. We are asking our
Government for inclusion in the management of governments in all aspects of development
as stipulated in Vision 2030 blueprint: social, economic and political. We hope that this time
round unlike all the others before, our duly 4th President-elect of the Republic of Kenya Hon
Uhuru Kenyatta (former Diaspora) and his Government will take our point of view seriously.
As Kenyan citizens regardless of our geographic location, we stand united under our flag
with tremendous pride agreeing with the conclusive words of our national anthem.
While it may be too late to have nominated members representing the Diaspora in the
National Assembly as special group for the incoming term under article 97 (1) (c) of the
Constitution, it is not too late to establish Diaspora at the highest level of the government,
for example through a Ministry, as countries like: Canada, France, Armenia, India,
Bangladesh, Israel, Mali or like Philippines where they have Filipinos Overseas that is directly
under the office of the President.
In the Bill of Rights, the right to vote is recognized by our new constitution as a
fundamental right that enables citizens to influence decision-making within government.
We demand that the Kenyan Government to explore all options available to ensure the most
convenient voting process is setup before the next 2017 general elections, preferably online
voting. If online voting cannot be implemented and we have to resort to specified Diaspora
polling stations, there should be a process in place to ensure that polling stations are
conveniently spread out in accessible locales where Kenyan citizens living abroad can travel
to vote without incurring any expenses.
In a historic constitutional referendum on 4th August, 2010, 68% of Kenyans who turned
out to vote supported the proposed new constitution. 50 Years of Kenya independence: unrealized rights
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Kenyans in Diaspora championed for new constitution and her full implementation in order
to enhance good governance. The new dispensation allows dual citizenship and right to vote
for Kenyans in Diaspora, therefore any move to derail the full implementation will be a
travesty.
Millions of Kenyans turned up on the 4th March 2013 to vote in the historic general
elections after independence (voter turnout 85.91%) and in the first national exercise
under new constitution.
Among the voters in this years elections are the Kenyans residing in fellow East African
Community countries who also were subject to the votes re-tallying in the just concluded
Presidential election petition at the Supreme Court of Kenya.
We can go on quoting figures that demonstrate the significant contributions we make to our
motherland, but the point is obvious; Kenyans in the Diaspora cannot be ignored or wished
away anymore. We represent a crucial part of our national fabric and do not appreciate it
when our rights become subject to political mind games.
A statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – planning committee in a Kenya
Diaspora forum read, in part, “It is our goal to engage the diverse segments of Kenya’s
institutions in broadening the Diaspora’s voice through these engagements and calling upon
the home country institutions to play a greater role in creating opportunities through the
enactment of concrete pro-Diaspora policies. To this end, the Diaspora community’s political
choices should be guided by the extent that the respective political parties and their
presidential candidates demonstrate commitment to accommodations for the Diaspora
agenda”.
Example of Ministry of Indian Overseas Affairs
The Indian government has set up specific programs for engagement with the Diaspora
under a separate Ministry of Indian Overseas Affairs. These programs include;
a) Annual meeting of the Indian origin Diaspora from all over the world that convenes in
India.
b) Regional Diaspora meetings are convened in different parts of the world.
c) This year, there was one in Canada for Indians in North America.
d) The Indian Prime Minister has set up the Global Advisory Council of Overseas Indians,
which comprises of about 20 people who, several times in the year travel to India to
interact with the leadership and advice on better ways of engagement.
e) Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre – One stop shop for overseas Indians who want to
invest in India, to access information about pursuing investments.
f) India Development Foundation – provides an opportunity for contributing to
Philanthropy in India.
g) Indian Council of Overseas Employment – provides assistance to those looking for
employment opportunities outside India.
h) Overseas Citizenship of India Card – Indians who have acquired the nationality of
another country but are able to show and establish Indian origin are given the card. It
is not a travel document neither is it an indication of dual citizenship, but enables
them to have a “visa for life” to enter India. They can travel back and forth as they
like.
i) Scholarship program for Diaspora children. 50 Years of Kenya independence: unrealized rights
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j) New India Program – Every year, groups of Indian origin students from all over the
world are taken to India for 3 to 4 weeks for interaction with the people, educational
institutions, leadership among others, at the government of India’s expense.
k) Web portals have been set up for people in Science, economic, investment, education
etc from all over the world, to interact with each other and with the Indian
government.
l) Right to vote available to all Indians in Diaspora who have Indian passports.
Example of suggestion by a recent returnee from the US
The 10 ways for anyone who is keen on attracting Diaspora direct investment into Kenya:
• Have a team: This team will be responsible for, among other things, liaising with
government bodies. The team will also act on behalf of Diaspora investors.
• Direct government involvement through lobbyist: Diaspora remittance is higher than
most ministries all put together and yet they do not have any representation in the
government.
• Guaranteed investment: The number one fear of a Diaspora investor is being ripped
off by property developers, agents, banks, and relatives. Those who want them to
invest back home must, therefore, guarantee that they will not be conned.
• Education: He said that it is important to sensitise Kenyans in the Diaspora on the
investment opportunities and the avenues to follow when investing in the country,
especially in real estate, which is fraught with “mine fields”.
• Partnerships: Kenya’s real estate players can do direct marketing through registered
representatives in the Diaspora.
• Updated and real marketing information: Diaspora investors do not get impressed
by some generic images of a property they are buying. Show them the real image. If
not, then show them concrete numbers and figures that make sense.
• Make them feel at home: Investors should partner with banks and other lending
institutions and reputable attorneys (lawyers) to help with the transactions.
• Simplify transaction process: The transaction process should be made easier, “always
avoiding the complicated processes and paperwork that don’t make sense”.
• Be tech-savvy: Accept electronic copies of documents.
• Share the cake: Real estate companies or agents should stop being “so maximum
profit-driven.” The big players should consider uplifting the young agents and small
brokers by giving the opportunities, where they deserve, to get business from Kenyans
in the Diaspora.
Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom – Psalm 90:12
By Patriot Stephen N. Kinuthia “Wamother”
ICT Consultant – Asset Management and Procurement
Chairman – Kenya Community in Diaspora ‘France EU’
Chairman – Kenya Overseas Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KOCCI)
CEO- Kenya Welfare Foundation (KWF)
Former Jubilee candidate MP for Githunguri (PICK)
Email : [email protected]

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