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A citizen is someone who is legally recognised as belonging to a particular country or state. Citizenship is therefore the act of legally belonging to a particular country or state. This provides the individual with legal rights to belong to that country.


The way one can become a Kenyan citizen

a) Citizenship by birth

  • Here one qualifies to be a Kenyan citizen automatically if he or she is born in Kenya and his or her parents are Kenyan citizens at the date of his or her birth.
  • Also if one is born outside Kenya and at the date of his birth his father is a Kenyan citizen he also qualifies automatically to be a Kenyan citizen by birth.


b) Citizen by registration

This is offered to people who have reached the age of twenty-one years and have satisfied the Minister in charge with the following conditions:

1.  That he is of African origin or a commonwealth citizen.

2.  That he has all qualities of being a suitable citizen of Kenya.

3.  That he has resided in Kenya for a period of five years.

4.  That he is of good character.

5.  That he has adequate knowledge of English or Kiswahili

6.  That if he is of African origin, he or his parent must have been born in an African country which also allows Kenyan citizens to be their citizens by legislation or he must have been a resident for at least ten years in a country which permits Kenyan citizens to become citizens by legislation and he is not a citizen of an independent state in Africa.


c)  Citizenship by naturalisation

Naturalisation is making a foreigner to become a citizen of a particular country. One can qualify to attain this if:

a)  He is twenty one years old.

b)  He satisfies the concerned minister that he knows enough Kiswahili.

c)  He has proved to be of good character.


d)  He has been lawfully living in Kenya for at least 12 months preceding his application.

e)  He satisfies the minister that he intends, if naturalised, to continue living in Kenya.

f)  He has been lawfully and ordinarily living in Kenya for a period totalling to 4 years in the previous 8 years including the 12 months preceding his application.

g)  He applies in the manner prescribed by parliament and the minister grants a certificate of naturalisation.


The conditions in which citizenship may be revoked (withdrawn)

Kenyan citizens by birth cannot be denied citizenship. Only those who have registered or naturalised citizenships may have them revoked if the person has been proved as being disloyal to Kenya by his conduct or speech, if the legislation or naturalisation was obtained by false representation or by fraud, if the naturalised person has been imprisoned within the first five years of his legislation for 12 months without a pardon in any country and lastly if the naturalised or registered person has lived in another country for a continuous period of seven years and not in the service of Kenya since he became a citizen.


The rights and freedoms that Kenyan citizens are entitled to enjoy


Right to own property

Every citizen in Kenya has a right to own property in any area of the country.


Right to life

One should not be deprived of his or her life intentionally. This implies that no person is supposed to murder another or commit suicide. Anyone who does any of these two is prosecuted in a court of law.


The right to liberty

No one should be imprisoned or detained without good reason. Also no one should be enslaved by the other. A person who is arrested must be taken to court within a specified period (maximum 24 hours).


Freedom of conscience and religion

Every Kenyan citizen has a right to take an active part in a religion of his or her own choice and think freely. The religion one joins should be legally registered.



Freedom of expression

One is free to hold an opinion without interference from the government. At the same time one is not allowed to incite anybody against the government.


Freedom of movement

One is free to move to any part of Kenya or live in any part of this country. Kenyans should therefore allow fellow Kenyans to move freely without interference. There are legally prohibited areas where one is not allowed to trespass for example private homes and state house.


Freedom of speech

One is free to say anything so long as it does not interfere with other people’s freedoms or go against the government.


Right of protection from discrimination

All people in Kenya are supposed to receive fair treatment irrespective of their sex (gender), race, tribe, political opinion and colour. Everyone therefore deserves mutual respect and honour.


Right of protection against arbitrary search and entry

Nobody should be searched without his consent or a valid court warrant. The police can search individuals houses if they are suspected of crimes such as theft or if they have escaped from prison and also if they house seditious documents. In this case the police must produce search warrants.


Right of protection from the law of land

A person who is charged with a criminal offence must be offered a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court of law. This time should not go beyond twenty four (24) hours unless during public holidays and weekends.


Right of protection from torture and any other insecurity

No one should be tortured for any reason at all even by police after arrest because the law assumes an individual to be innocent until proved guilty by a court of law.









The situations in which Kenyan citizens may be denied some of their rights and freedoms:


Kenya citizens may be denied some of their rights and freedoms if they interfere with those of other people. They will also be denied some of their freedom if they misuse their rights and freedoms with the aim of destabilising the country by causing instability, by criticising the government or by dispersing seditious publications with the aim of destabilising the country.

 One can be denied the freedom of religion if he uses it wrongly to undermine the government or to disunite Kenyans. There may be a great need for the government to take individuals’ land for public use e.g. for road, hospitals or schools. In this case the individuals has to be compensated.

 In times of war the government may limit the freedom of movement by curfew or by declaring a state of emergency. People may be denied freedom of speech if they begin uttering false statements about other people or when they incite people against the government with the aim of causing instability in the government.


The occasion in which a person is likely to be denied the right to personal liberty in Kenya


  • In case of having unsound mind e.g. if a person is mad or crazy.
  • Incase a person is a drug addict.
  • Incase of a person being infected by a contagious disease.
  • Incase one is under 18 years he can be denied personal liberty to enable him acquire education.
  • Incase one is a convicted criminal.


Limitations on freedom of speech


One may be denied freedom of speech if one makes untrue utterances about another individual or against the government.

One is not allowed to publish seditious documents and also to incite other members of the community against the government. Finally, one is not allowed to talk ill against the President.








The occasions in which a person in Kenya (Kenya citizen) is likely to be denied the right to life


One can be denied the right to life during the time of war. One can be killed the time a rebellion or a riot is being suppressed.

In the process of preventing a criminal offence the police can stop intended robbery by shooting suspects. It can also occur in the course of defending one’s property or oneself.

Lastly, a person can also be denied the right to life by being convicted by a court of law especially if one is found guilty of murder.


Limitations of the freedom of worship


  • One is not allowed to preach with the intention of inciting people to cause instability in the country.
  • One is not allowed to preach in a way which is likely to disunite the people of Kenya.
  • One is not allowed to use religion wrongly with the intention of undermining the government in any way whatsoever.


How the bill of rights in Kenya constitution protects the right of the individual.


  1. An individual is guaranteed the right to life. If one murders or commits suicide, he is punishable by law.
  2. An individual is guaranteed right to own property. If one interferes with another person’s property he is liable to prosecution in a court of law.
  3. An individual is guaranteed freedom of conscience. In this case one is entitled the right to think and worship.
  4. An individual is guaranteed freedom of association or assembly. Individuals therefore are free to assemble and associate with people of their own choice without harassment.
  5. An individual is guaranteed the right to worship and join a religion of his choice.
  6. The bill of rights protects a person against arbitrary search, detention and arrest.
  7. It provides freedom of movement of the individual. One has right to move freely in any part of the country.




  1. An individual is protected from being enslaved or being forced to supply unpaid labour.
  2. The bill or rights provides the individual with freedom of expression or speech through writing and talking.


The responsibilities of a good citizen.


Image From EcoleBooks.comA good Kenyan citizen is one who is ready to obey all the Kenyan laws in order to maintain peace and order in the country. He is one who participates in development projects such as roads, dispensaries, hospitals and schools – which help to improve the welfare of the people of Kenya.

A good citizen is also one who participates in the democratic process by getting involved in voting to elect the most responsible representatives of the people in both the parliament and the local authorities.


The elements of good citizenship


A good citizen will demonstrate the following:

  • High degree of patriotism. This may be demonstrated by full participation in development projects and respect of the law.
  • High degree of honesty in all what one does.
  • High degree of generosity.
  • Always being well informed in all activities taking place in one’s country so that one can participate fully in the democratic process, in public meetings and in the elections.
  • Always being free to air views on all issues affecting the people and the country at large.









Review Questions.


1. What does the term citizenship imply?

2.  In which ways may one become a citizen of Kenya?

  1. How may citizenship be with held?
  1. Explain the circumstances which may compel the government to interfere with the:

    i)  Freedom of speech

    ii)  Right to life


5. Outline the rights and freedoms contained in the Bill of Rights in Kenya.

6. Describe the qualities of a good citizen.

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EcoleBooks | History and Government Form 1 Notes : CHAPTER 7. CITIZENSHIP.


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