Accepted Paper:

Being neither citizen nor foreigner: the case of the Frere Town community in Kenya  
Marie Pierre Ballarin (Paris - URMIS)

Paper short abstract:

In Kenya forms of political mobilization against treatment of minorities or subaltern groups regarding citizenship has become common. The case of a group of slave’s descendants in Mombasa will illustrate the struggle for recognition and claim for full citizenship within the Kenyan nation.

Paper long abstract:

Frere Town in Mombasa is one of the historical settlements for freed slaves created by the Church Missionary Station in the 19th century in the fight against slave trade. Having their origins outside Kenya, newly freed slaves did not have a homogenous ethnic identity and language. The new culture of Christianity and Western education taught by the missionaries gave them a feeling of common belonging.

Loyal servant of the colonizers, the Freretownians formed a self-conscious urban elite, who saw themselves as playing a major role in the establishment of the Nation. However, the new constitution that kept the former colonial categorization based on ethnicity did not allow them to have a rightful place in the emerging Kenyan society.

In 2007, considering that they have been left behind, the descendants of the Freretownians engaged a process of recognition denouncing their own experiences as citizen with a double stigma of slave discordance and otherness.

The paper, based on several years of research on archival work and interviews with members of the Frere Town community, will particularly examine the dialectic between inclusion/exclusion and the practice of citizenship in Kenya.

Firstly, it aims at a better understanding of the role of this specific group in the process of independence and definition of the Kenyan citizenry. Secondly, it will look at how the case of the Freretownians should be seen in relation with others minorities' claims, such as the Nubians and Somalis, denouncing daily discriminations and non-recognition within the Kenyan society.

Panel P140
Being and Making 'Good Citizens': Concepts and Practices of Citizenship in Africa Past and Present
  Session 1