The pain of getting a passport as a Muslim


At this point, I had already paid the mandatory fees, submitted my Birth Certificate, ID, PIN etc… All that was documented as mandatory documents in the application forms. I had also waited for double the 2 weeks waiting period. All I had planned to do that day was just go pick up my passport.

Ohh no! Not with the names ‘Idd Salim’, I came to lean painfully!

9:16 am
Went to outside tent and was referred to counter 14. Went to counter 14.

Attendant : ‘What are your names?’,
Me : ‘Idd Salim’
Attendant : ‘Enda Counter 13′,

Went to counter 13 with a smile. ‘YES!! Gonna get it leo!’, I thought. Met this annoyed lady in specs.

Me: ‘Habari ya asubuhi Madam’
Attendant : ‘Leta receipt na ID!’,
Me: ‘Ok.. Shika hizi hapa’
Attendant: ‘Ati Idd, Salim? Come after 3 weeks!’
Me: ‘But I was told passports are ready in 2 weeks max. And I applied 4 weeks ago!’
Attendant: ‘Next!!’

So I go back to the tent outside. Greeted the same tent lady with my usually charming smile and radiant eyes.

Me : ‘Madam, Nina complaint. I was told it will be ready in 2 weeks, na 4 weeks have passed. Sasa naambiwa nirudi after 3 weeks.’
Attendant: ‘Kama una haraka, enda ukacomplain kwa mdosi.’
Me: ‘Mdosi? Mdosi mgani?’ – I actually thought she was talking about Kibaki.
Attendant: ‘Enda room 16.’

At room 16, I met a very warm and friendly mdosi. (Funny how in Kenya, it is ONLY the small insignificant people who give you hell in all aspects of life. The wadosis are ALWAYS cool and OK.). he listened to me with empathy and checked my receipt and ID and took out a note-pad.

Mdosi : ‘Enda First floor and look for Ndambuki. Atakusaidia. Usiwe na shaka’

Went to first floor (OK, second floor then u take the back corridor fire-escape stairs to floor 1). Meet nice and smiling people willing to help all over. ‘Kwa Ndambuki ni pale’, One directed.

Kwa Ndambuki. Knock! Knock!, I greet a madam I found there. ‘I have been sent to meet Bwana Ndambuki’.
Lady :’This is his office, lakini ametoka. But I can help you. Leta receipt na ID’. She types in a URL of the Immigration System running as a JSP Web Service. ‘Url Not found!’

Lady : ‘Hii computer yangu ina shida, so let me call someone to help. Calls some extension and gets the Bad News.’:I Overhear : ‘Ati Muslim Name.? Ni suspect? Lazima Interview? OK’. She says : “Wewe enda room 8, Tafuta Bwana Lang’at”‘

Room 8. Closed. Waited outside for 20 Mins. The comes a gentleman called Lang’at.

Me : ‘Nimetumwa kwa Bwana Lang’at’
Lang’at : “Ni mimi. Karibu Kiti.” – Very warmly and in a read-to-serve mode.
Me : ‘Sasa niliapply for passport 4 weeks ago, na bado’
Lang’at : “Ehh! That is so LONG bana. Lemmi check. Hii tutamaliza leo. Usijali. We are here to serve you’. – Ohh!! what a good change in the government lingo.
Lang’at : “Ahh! Kuna shida hapa. Idd Salim. Hmmmn…”. – He refers me to the next desk.
Lang’at : “Saidia huyu Kijana. Ni Muslim, but from Meru. Mpe recommendation apate Passport. Go to his desk”

Guy 2 : ‘Ati Idd Salim. You will Never ever get a Kenyan Passport with those names’. He shows me some examples of Kenyan Names.
Josephat Njorge Mwaura, Owino Ochieng Omondi, Kimani, Wachira, Lagat, Chepdinya, Omolo.
Guy 2 : ‘Did you see any Abdi or Jamal or Salim there?’
Me : ‘So tufanyeje mzee. Mimi nataka tu passport’
Guy 2 interviews me about my parents. I am from a single-parent family and my only parent (my mum), died in 1998, December 28th.

Guy 2 : “Because of this Salim Idd names. You will never get a passport unless you bring your mum’s death certificate and birth certificate” – tears fill my eyes. Damn! I thought I was strong, but the mention of my late mum exposed the pain of losing a loved one.

Guy 2 : “Ungekuwa unaitwa Kimani ama Omondi ama other Kenyan names, Saa hii hii ningekupa passport.”

Guy 2 : “Last option, look for her National ID”…. What?????

Back @ Office

So I am googling for that ID. And unless I get it. No Passport.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 10:12am – Day 4 of x @ Nyayo House…

Today I went with 2 additional documents to Immigrations Dept.

– A Primary School Leaving Certificate from Isiolo Hekima Primary School (needless to say, All A’s.. hehehe) that was given to me in 1996 (13 years ago).
– A letter from the DO and DC and chief of Isiolo waying that I am a citizen and also a copy of the letter of recommendation that recommended me to Join Starehe Boys Center, Form 1, in 1997.

On the way up to 1st floor, I meet some Somalis Smiling and hugging each other waving freshly printed Kenyan Passports chanting “Abrogha#$ yadda yadda Genya Bassbot!!”.. I smile, “This must be a good day”. I console my unsure self. Ohh How wrong I was!

Different day, same result.

Let us assume for a moment I was not born in Kenya. [Sometimes, I actually wish!]

According to

(1) Subject to subsection (2), a person of full age and capacity, on making application to the minister in prescribed manner, may be registered as a citizen of Kenya if he has satisfies the Minister–

(a) that he is of African descent;

(b) that either
(i) he was born and one of his parents was born, in a country to which this section applies; or
(ii) he has been a resident for a period of not less than ten years in a country to which this section applies and he is not of an independent state on the continent of Africa ;
(c) that he is ordinarily resident in Kenya and has been so resident for a period of five years;
(d) that he has an adequate knowledge of the Swahili or the English language or such as the Minister may prescribe;
(e) that he is good character; and
(f) that he would be a suitable citizen of Kenya.

So, a well behaved (see e), swahili and english speaker (see d) like me who has been in Kenya for 5 years+ (see c) AUTOMATICALLY qualified to be a Kenyan.

“Kama huwezi pata your mother’s ID, then usitusimbue. 1998 is just the other day. go look for the ID”. They Said. (I have that and more recorded in my phone).

But at least I got an option. “Get us your grandmothers ID card and that will help”… What ???

I cannot get my mother’s ID, sembuse ya granny? So I called back home in Meru, and THEY HAD IT… They would send it over to NBO via Meru Nissans, the quickest possible.

“Mbona una-photocopy things everyday hapa?”, Asks the photocopy lady at Nyayo on my way out. “Wamekataa kunipa passport because naitwa Salim Idd Kithinji.”, I respond “Kwanini?”, She asked half-annoyed, half suprised “Si majina ya Ki-Kenya”, I confessed, feeling very Ugandan.

“You will get that passport in JESUS name! “, She says… “Amen”, I respond.

Acha tuone granny ID ikija wataitisha nini sasa. Maybe hoove-prints from all our camels in Isiolo.

Aluta Continua…

My grandmaz ID came and I Took it to Nyayo House. Will not venture much on what else was asked for after the ID came because I finally got the passport, but I was forced to do some things I am not particularly a fan of or proud of.

But the end justified the means. Thank you mabwana Charles and Bwana lang’at of room 8 Immigration.

After providing the documents below, I am happy to announce that I am now officially Half Kenyan!

– My ID and Photocopy
– Mbugua’s ID and Photocopy [to prove someone knows me]
– Ma Late Granny’s ID and Photocopy
– My Birth Cert and Photocopy
– My PIN
– My High School Leaving Cert dated 1997.
– My Introduction letter to Starehe from Isiolo DO and DC dated 1996.
Extra passport processing Fee for Muslim Applicants

After an citizenship interview slotted tomorrow, I will officially be, 100%, a citizen of this lovely and blessed country! Saa hii I am tiziing National Anthem, History of the Njuri Ncheke, Geography and The Size of Migingo Island.

Sasa I can dump ‘Kimani Ochieng Chepdinyich’ na niregeshe the strange non-kenyan majinaz of ‘Idd Salim Kithinji’

God bless you all!!


I got the passport at last and I now guard it with my life. Don’t want to go there again. I am ashamed to be a Kenyan at these times of discrimination and utter in-equality.

God bless Kenya and I hope things change for the better.


Written by IDD Salim . Read More from him at his website


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