It is typical Kenyan style to wait until the very last minute before we start running around trying to fix something. It is this ignorance that Jomo Kenyatta set out to fight over half a century ago and which his son, heir to the Uthamaki, is still struggling to eradicate. Sasa mnataka afanye?
We chill until bills are overdue before rushing to pay them or wait until the deadline day to form long queues at Times Tower to file our tax returns. We don’t bother to go even for the basic of documents until we really need them for ABCD. Now for one reason or another, until last week, I did not even have a birth certificate.
Why would I need a birth certificate anyway? I ‘finished school’ many years ago and not once in my school years was I required to submit it and when I was formally employed, they never asked for it. They demanded to see my KRA PIN, NHIF card, NSSF card, ID card, Good Conduct certificate, 2 passport size photos, bank details, a medical certificate, academic certificates, a CV and experience.
As you would expect from an ordinary mwananchi like me, I didn’t have most of those papers and so I frantically ran up and down fetching them. The former three are to enable them to siphon oil from the peanuts they will be paying you every month while the rest are just papers to confirm that you are indeed a human being and not a dressed up primate, and you have to pay for some of them. Sigh.
Credit to the son of Jomo though, for he has established Huduma Centres across the country where you can easily and quickly get most of the above mentioned documents, and that’s how I hacked it. However, when I recently needed the birth certificate, I had to travel 400km to Kitale, where I was born, to get it. How incredible is that?
How to apply
Here is the thing: If you were born in Nairobi, you can apply for it online, pay via mobile money, download the form and drop it at Nyayo House together with supporting documents. As easy as that. But if you were born in Mandera or Moyale, like some of us, you have to go up there to personally convince the chief that you are not a Somali refugee or an Ethiopian cattle rustler.
To make matters worse, I arrived at Kitale on December 27th and headed straight to the Huduma Centre oblivious of the fact that it was a gazzeted public holiday only to be rudely shocked by the big black padlock that was chained to the door. Alas! I should’ve slept. Those guys should consider sending us text messages alerting us about these holidays. After all, they claim to be a digital government, don’t they?
After spending the night at my aunt’s place, which I really don’t like, I went back the following day very early in the morning. “Is it yours? We don’t do late registration here, you have to go to the County Commissioner”, the visibly sleepy attendant told me. Ten minutes and dusty feet later, I was outside the CC’s office, which is several blocks down the road. I waited there for at least 3 hours, until the relevant officials started arriving for work after the longest weekend ever.
What you need
For late registration, you need yours, your mother’s and your father’s ID cards; plus a school leaving certificate or a baptism card or a Birth Notification or a letter from the midwife who shouted obscenities at your mother on your birthday, confirming that you were indeed born on the said date and place. I filled several forms and handed over the paperwork, which was quickly processed to my surprise. I then paid the Ksh 150 fee to the cashier with a 200 bob note and she handed me a receipt saying, ‘’Sasa si ununueko kha-lunch halafu nikutengenezee uende nayo sahii”
“Errm, sahii sina kitu, wee nitengenezee tu”
“Hauna kitu na ni sikukuu?”
“Sikukuu imeisha, sahii ni njaanuary”
“Aiii, kwanza uko na bahati haujanyonga mwaka, wengine walizaliwa 83 lakini wanakuja wameandika 1990 kwa ID… na by the way wewe ni mtoto sana, mandevu tu ndio zinafanya ukae mzee…. Sasa umesema aje, si utoe mpango?”
“Aya,chukua hiyo 50 bob imebaki”
(Translation for non-Kenyans: Your birth certificate is ready for collection sir. It was my pleasure serving you. Thank you and have a good day, sir.)
And that is how ladies and gentlemen, I got my belated birth certificate within minutes, from the County Commissioner’s office in Kitale, Trans Nzoia County.