The Christian Science Monitor

Tanzania granted the largest-ever mass citizenship to refugees. Then what?

A market area in Ulyankulu, Tanzania, one of several settlements the government set up for Burundian refugees in the 1970s. Source: Ryan Lenora Brown/The Christian Science Monitor

Daudi Nzila had thought a long time about what made this country his home, and he had decided, finally, it was the bones. 

“When you buried your beloveds somewhere, then that place belongs to you,” he told himself. How could a place not be yours when your blood, your history, were literally a part of the earth you walked on?

There were other things, too. Like the mango trees that swished and swayed over his stout concrete house. Thirty-six years ago, when Mr. Nzila was a young refugee from Burundi, he’d planted two tiny green saplings here as a kind of prayer that he would be in one place long enough to see them grow. Now, they draped over his yard like a giant canopy, blotting the sun. 

And there were his 10 children, Tanzanian to their very core. All but one had been born here, and they spoke Swahili as easily as they breathed. At school, they wore sweaters in the colors of the Tanzanian flag, memorized Tanzanian history, belted the Tanzanian national anthem.

For Nzila, becoming Tanzanian had been a slow accumulation of experiences. But it had also happened all at once. 

In 2014, he and 162,000 other Burundian

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