If President Kikwete is Tanzanian, then most Rwandans being expelled are Tanzanians too
As of August 15, 2013, more than 7,000 people of Rwandan ancestry had been forced out of Tanzania. The expulsions have reignited a centuries old debate as to who should be considered a perfect citizen of a given country. Recently, I met an elderly couple that lived in Burundi since the early 1950s, and their view of the evictions made me stop for a second to think though what they had said.
“Kikwete could be originating from Gitega in Burundi,” is how the elderly couple put it. They are of Rwandan origin, but speak Kirundi and solely prefer to be viewed as Burundians. By virtual of that country’s laws, they are indeed Burundians.
So where did President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete come from? There are no original residents of Bagamoyo in Tanzania where Kikwete’s parents are traced. Most people from that area are remnants of slaves who were seem as unfit for the market during the slave trade era. Bagamoyo formally (Bwagamoyo) was one of the biggest slave trade centres in East Africa and people were being traded from various areas of East Africa. For those of Bagamoyo, however, almost all came from Burundi and Zaire.
More “Tanzanians” from outside
Historical discourse shows that most Tanzanians are from other neighbouring countries. The Ngoni people came from Zulu land in South Africa; Yao used to belong to Mwanamtapa Kingdom; Arabs of Unguja and Pemba Irelands in Zanzibar came from Oman during the rule of Sultan Sayid Said.
Chaga, Maasai and Meru people of Northern Tanzania are traced in Kenya; Hangaza people from Burundi; Haya people from Uganda; Waha (Ha people) arrived in from Zaire and Burundi; the Makonde people (tribe of former Tanzania President Benjamin William Mkapa) came from Mozambique; Nyasa People relocated from Malawi; almost all Mara region dwellers came from Kenya and the list can cover about 80percent of all Tanzanians.
The Singida and some Arusha people like Warangi, Wasandawe, Wabaebaig, Wairaq and Hadzabe are not Bantus, but Semi Nilotic who found themselves in that country after immigration for survival.
Tanzania’s current Constitution states that all people who were present in 1961 from 00.00 mid night during Tanganyika Independence are legally Tanzanians despite their vast origins. It is beyond comprehension therefore why Rwandans who were in Tanganyika from 1959 and before are being evicted as illegal immigrants.
Elderly women are being rounded up at gun point with nothing on them, and forced out to the Rwanda-Tanzania border. The children they had with Tanzania men are remaining, because according to President Kikwete, the children are Tanzanian and not their mother. The same thing is happening to men married to Tanzanian women.
Tanzania nationality law
A Tanzanian citizen is anyone who is in possession of citizenship of the United Republic of Tanzania. Nationality law is mentioned in the Constitution of Tanzania. The citizenship law came into force independence in 1961, and amended in 1964 when Tanganyika and Zanzibar united to form Tanzania.
Any child born within the borders of the United Republic of Tanzania, on or after Union Day, 26 April 1964, is granted citizenship of Tanzania, except for children of foreign diplomats, as stated in the Tanzania Citizenship Act of 1995. Citizenship is derived from various scenarios.
Citizenship by descent: A person born outside Tanzania enjoys a right to Tanzanian citizenship from birth provided that at least one parent is a Tanzanian citizen by birth or naturalization.
Citizenship by naturalization: Any foreign national with no ancestry or birth ties with Tanzania may apply for citizenship through Naturalization. In order for a foreign national to become a Tanzanian citizen through naturalization, the following conditions must be met.
- (A). Residence in the United Republic throughout the period of twelve months immediately preceding the date of the applications.
- (b). During the ten years immediately preceding the said period of twelve months, total residence in the United Republic for periods amounting in the aggregate to not less than seven years.
- (c). Adequate knowledge of Kiswahili or the English language.
- (d). Good character.
- (e). would be a suitable citizen in terms of past and potential contribution to social and cultural welfare as well as economic, scientific, or technological advancement of Tanzania.
- (F). Intention, if naturalized, to continue to reside permanently in the United Republic. Following the lodging of the application, the applicant must publish a notice of intention to naturalize in two consecutive issues of the registered newspapers. After the application has been scrutinized by various officials, a final recommendation is made to the Minister of Home Affairs, who ultimately decides whether or not to approve the application
A person receiving Tanzanian citizenship by naturalization must renounce foreign citizenships under current law.
The case for Minors: In the case of minors, according to the citizenship act of 1995, once the parents are granted citizenship to the United Republic of Tanzania, the child is also by right entitled to receive citizenship, considered they are under legal age and still living under the care of their parents.
Dual citizenship: Tanzania does not currently allow its citizens to hold foreign citizenship in addition to their Tanzanian citizenship, except in the case of Tanzanian woman acquiring foreign nationality through marriage. The ban on dual citizenship has historically been motivated by suspicions about potential disloyalty amongst the sizable Asian minority. Nevertheless, in recent years a debate has arisen about permitting dual citizenship. In August 2007, the minister of home affairs submitted a report recommending that the law be changed.
How can one lose Tanzanian citizenship?
Those who acquired Tanzanian citizenship at birth cannot be involuntarily stripped of their citizenship, though they may voluntarily renounce it. Those wishing to renounce their Tanzanian citizenship must provide evidence of another country’s citizenship as well as return their Tanzanian passport.
Those who acquired Tanzanian citizenship by naturalization may have their citizenship revoked for quite understandable reasons.
At least from the above explanation, how can the thousands of people being expelled from Tanzania be graded; Tanzanians. Those being forced out include unemployed youths born in Tanzania, but have Rwandan origins; women and men who left Rwanda as babies in 1959; babies and teenagers born in Tanzania; elderly women/men who crossed into Karagwe long before Tanzania was born.
The Tanzanian government using all its instruments of law and order, are holding meetings with local leaders from which a simple message is given; ALL RWANDANS OUT. First, the targeted people are forced to give up their officials Tanzanian documents. So a villager in Karagwe region who barely makes ends meet turns to those considered Rwandans, and since they no longer have documents, everything is taken.
In all his speeches, President Kikwete addresses his countrymen/women ad “fellow Tanzanians”. So if more than 80 percent current “Tanzanians” came from outside, then just as President Kikwete is, then a majority of the 5,793 people expelled so far, are Tanzanian too.