Tanzania: Dual citizenship: Why should a child decide between its two nations?

From: Abdalah Hamis

The United Republic of Tanzania is preparing a new constitution which will be approved (or not) by a referendum. On the 30th of December 2013 the Commission ‘Tume ya Mabadiliko ya Katiba’ presented the second draft of a new constitution to the President Jakaya Kikwete in Dar es Salaam.

One question of importance for our families and many others is how the new constitution will handle the issue of dual citizenship.

With great disappointment did we read that the new constitution is at this stage not bringing any change to the question of dual citizenship, which means it is simply not granted to anyone.

With this open letter to the Members of the Constituent Assembly, who are expected to discuss the draft and will be able to push for changes, we want to expound why we think that a provision for dual citizenship is needed in the some cases.

Ties to multiple nations are no longer an uncommon situation. A good number of Tanzanians of multinational descent have been able to use their status in search of further education, better opportunities in business and social services. It is estimated that more than two million Tanzanians live in foreign countries. For those born with multiple nationalities, the choice of which to choose, may lie with which nationality provides them with better opportunities to grow and learn, yet this logical decision does not mean that their love for Tanzania has diminished. Many would like to contribute to the development of their home country by leveraging the expertise in various areas gained through formal education and work experience and their good knowledge of Tanzania.

Let us present to you the case of a Tanzanian son and of Andrea Cordes, one of the authors of this letter, and the dilemma he will be facing because of the non-provision of dual-citizenship: Ilyas, born in Dar es Salaam in 2009 as the child of a Tanzanian and German citizen would be, according to current law, in the situation to decide, once 18, whether he wants to keep his Tanzanian or his German nationality. Please read that once more: he has to decide whether he keeps the nationality of his father or his mother. He has to decide to which of the two nations, which are both part of him, he wants to belong by citizenship.

Look at this picture, literally it speaks what Ilyas represents: one part is Tanzanian, one part is German: 1-1.

[image; child running;]

So we ask you: Is this really a situation that children should face because parents moved across boarders? Should they miss the opportunity to contribute as a citizen to the development of their nation?

African countries are continuously reaching out to their diaspora and multinational citizens to contribute to their economic, political and social development. If Tanzanians intend on seeking the contribution of our citizens, let us also allow them the privilege to keep the nationality of their homeland, while they represent us and their personal interests elsewhere as well. Dual nationality in this age of mobility is relevant. The world is no longer one of single identities. We marry, reproduce, live, learn and work across borders. By no means does dual citizenship mean they love Tanzania any less, but forcing one to divide their own identity into separate parts is no longer an easy task. There is little for us to lose, as a nation, from allowing global citizens to keep Tanzania as part of their identity.

Children born with multinational background are the sons and daughters of Tanzania and the respective other country.

Which risks are there to grant children dual citizenship of both nations they belong to? We don’t see any. If as grown-up person they would decide to serve in the national service, to take a political office, yes in these cases maybe regulations should be in place to go for a single citizenship. But these kinds of regulations can be put in place, just as the right to dual citizenship.

Therefore we are asking you as the Members of the Constituent Assembly to push for necessary adjustments in the constitution so that these children are able to keep their origins by citizenship. Because in the end they will always be the sons and daughters of both nations!

Written in the United States of America and Germany by Sia Chami and Andrea Cordes

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