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Forget Miguna, here’s the Kenyan man who spent 13 months at JKIA

Lawyer Miguna Miguna is not the only Kenyan who has gone through hell in the hands of Immigration authorities at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

Sanjah Shah spent 13 months at the facility after he was rendered stateless.

Sanjah became stateless after falling foul of Britain’s citizenship laws. His wife, Rasmita, and son, Veer, both Kenyan citizens, used to visit him at the JKIA to deliver clothes and food.

Mr Shah had travelled to Britain from Kenya in May 2005 on a UK overseas citizen’s passport to visit his sister.


Having been born in Kenya in 1962, a year before the country attained independence from Britain, he was considered to be a citizen of the UK and its colonies.

In 2003, Kenya made changes in the law, giving him the legal right to apply to become a full UK citizen, but officials at Heathrow Airport were suspicious of his one-way air ticket and denied him entry to the country.

He was flown back to Kenya, but the “prohibited immigrant” stamp on his passport forced immigration officers in Nairobi to also deny him entry into the country. At the time Kenyan law didn’t provide for dual citizenship.

In his attempt to enter into the UK, Shah had surrendered his Kenyan passport and his automatic right of entry. He decided to stay at the JKIA as his application for British citizenship was being processed.


The then country’s Vice-President, Moody Awori, declared that Kenya could do nothing for Mr Shah.
But eventually, officials from the Kenyan authorities and the British high commission told him he could leave the airport and remain in Kenya while his application was processed.

But Mr Shah was terrified that if he left the airport, he would jeopardise his chances of returning to the UK, so he decided to stay.

After 13 months of endurance, his British passport application was formally approved and was free to travel to the UK.