Addressing the challenges of stateless minority groups: case study of the Nubians in Kibera

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Strathmore University
The focus on the study of minorities has been driven by both international and national desire to create peace and stability for all. Currently, the major problem is how to best extend protection towards this group at both national and international law levels. While many agree that there is a need to protect minority groups from discrimination as well as preventing the infringement of basic human rights, there is a clear dearth in terms of measures in place that will protect and extend to the group fundamental equal rights. Thus, the problem at hand is that Kenya does not have sufficient legal avenues to address the challenges facing minorities and protect the rights of its stateless minorities.
Kenya is characterized by great ethnic and religious diversity. Even so, the Kenyan Government does not recognise the Nubian ethnic minority. Nubians share a kinship with Sudan, a community beyond the Kenyan Borders. For this reason, the group often believes their loyalty is questioned in Kenya and they are not fully accepted as citizens. They live in enclaves of their own separate from other Kenyans with different values and patterns of existence.3 During the colonial period, Nubians were assigned land in Kibera and the first batch of Sudanese veterans settled on the land in 1911.4Their clear history with the land they were assigned is seen in that the name ‘Kibera’, which originates from a Sudanese Arabic word meaning forest.5 In 1939, during the aftermath of World War II, the Nubians requested the British colonial government to repatriate them back to Sudan but their request was denied. Upon independence, the Nubian population in Kibera believed that they did not have any assurances on the land they lived on in Kibera.