Kenyan Dual Citizenship – disaster in the making or blessing in disguise?

Germany-Kenya

When KCA (Kenyan Community Abroad) was allowed to send representatives to the Bomas talks during the drafting of the constitution, most if not all diasporans had one issue set for them, dual citizenship was all they needed added to the constitution. When women were called in, any that had ever given birth abroad or was married to a foreigner had only one wish, the right to pass on their citizenship to their child. And to our surprise especially for women in the diaspora both of these issues were included in the draft and are now part of our 2year old constitution.

As members of KCA took turns to fly across the globe to take part in the discussions at Bomas we thought that was the most difficult issue. Now that this new clause has been turned to law, flying to go to Bomas and discuss the issue must have been the easiest part, implementing it is turning into a night mare for both the diasporans and the Kenyan embassy all over the world. Now to look at dual citizenship as a Kenyan in Germany, this is going to be fun…..

In Germany children are allowed to hold dual citizenship until their 18th birthday when they have to choose by the 23rd birthday which citizenship they want to maintain, Optionszwang/Optionspflicht.

Although Germany doesn’t allow for dual citizenship for naturalized adults, it does however offer it in exceptional cases. If you’re German and would like to take up a new citizenship or would like to keep your old citizenship after taking up the German one, you’d need to apply for a Beibehaltungsgenehmigung read about it: Beibehaltungsgenehmigung.

The tricky part comes in in that according to our constitution, you DO NOT lose your Kenyan citizenship. Seems meeting Nigerians had it’s advantages as we copied this from their constitution. Basically what this means, ONCE A KENYAN ALWAYS A KENYAN. When you apply for your German citizenship you need to renounce your Kenyan citizenship in order to get your German one. Well, here’s where the loop hole comes in because you can’t renounce your Kenyan citizenship if you are Kenyan by BIRTH. By birth also includes children and grandchildren to people born in Kenya. Essentially this means, when you apply for German citizenship and you have to “renounce” your Kenyan citizenship at the Embassy which they do by sending you documents to accept, you still remain Kenyan. After you send in the documents from the Kenyan embassy showing that you renounced your Kenyan citizenship to the AB so as to get your German Pass, you still remain Kenyan.

Then here is where it gets hard to understand, Germany refuses dual citizenship but that is when you apply for a NEW citizenship while holding your German one. If you APPLY for citizenship to another country as a German you LOSE German citizenship. BUT as a Kenyan you NEVER lose your Kenyan citizenship under the new constitution……

So after you have received your German passport and you reapply for a new Kenyan passport (the old one has been stamped as invalid)……you maintain both citizenships. This is a legal loop hole that many have been able to use but it can turn tricky when it comes to some matters so I’d suggest you talk to your lawyer for details on what happens to your property and wealth in such cases. (Kama wewe ni sufferer then you have nothing to worry about).

The rule here though is that each of these countries considers you their national. When you fly in and out of Kenya you use your Kenyan passport while you use the German passport to fly in and out of Germany. (Just heard, you can actually fly into Kenya using your ID if you have no passport).

It’s also worth noting that unlike the passports people got back in the day which were exactly the same as the kawaida passports Germans have, the new passports have the words “Unter Vorbehalt” which basically means that it can be withdrawn any time. Whether this is something to worry about, I don’t think so not unless you’re a criminal in which case a run in with police could complicate issues.

Anyhu, this new constitution also brings in another aspect most Kenyans here haven’t thought about. In the old constitution, as women you couldn’t pass on your Kenyan citizenship to your child thus Kenyan women who got pregnant in Germany even without any “father-to-be” in sight, would have their children get German citizenship on humanitarian grounds. It’s a human right to have an identity, which includes citizenship. Many girls have used this as a method to stay here, coz if your child gets German citizenship you basically get a right to stay here and take care of the child.

Well that was then, now if your baby daddy doesn’t claim the child, then your child by law gets Kenyan citizenship by default. That is in the case where you aren’t legible for German citizenship. Meaning for those that get pregnant to stay, you no longer have a LEGAL entitlement/claim for your child to get German citizenship.

 

UPDATE:

The constitution Chapter 3, paragraph 16 says: A citizen by birth does not lose citizenship by acquiring the citizenship of another country.

The citizenship and migration Act from 2011 allows Kenyan citizens to renounce their citizenship in which case you lose the Kenyan citizenship by this renounciation. The Act as well as the Constitution allow Kenyans who renounced their citizenship, to reapply for Kenyan citizenship.

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