KENYA’S ETHNICITY PROBLEM
Posted by African Press International on March 15, 2011
After reading the story, Check this out also: Skimlinks
By Harrison Mwirigi Ikunda
API-Nairobi, Kenya. Research being core to my daily assignments I have been to various counties across all the Kenyan provinces quite frequently with a keen eye on developments occurring in the country. This is with regard to county governments realisation and more immediate the developments in the main political arena. One such critical development has been the summons to International Criminal Court (ICC) in Hague for the now called Ocampo six.
In various counties I have encountered quite diverse opinions and fluid political developments particularly in areas where the Ocampo six come from or where they have huge support base. There are no doubts that there is ominous feel in various areas of the country to the extent of a siege mentality and with a string view and that their sons are targeted un-fairly. The popular argument has been the post 2007 chaos ought to have netted more than the six and some even do feel that their sons are innocent.
Examining various arguments and watching keenly the Kenyan political space one would understand that Kenya is a deeply divided nation along ethnic lines almost 50 years since independence. What this shows is that leadership in Kenya have all along been pursued along ethnic lines and that ethnicity has acquired a life of its own that it is a quite significant phenomenon in Kenyans lives.
Indeed having had opportunities to interact with people from various sectors across the entire republic there is confirmation that tribalism is real. It is real and it goes beyond politics to various facets of Kenyans lives. Surprisingly it is even practiced by people one would regard to be so polished that they would not entertain the nonsense. But it is amazing how even quite well-educated people don’t realize that this is a vice that will take the nation nowhere and that it is bound to create problems not only for themselves but for posterity as well.
I’m not sure whether rapid urbanisation would solve the ethnicity thinking so prevalent in Kenyans minks. Methinks urbanisation will minimize the problem of the rabid tribalism so prevalent in Kenya in the long term. In the meantime ethnicity continues to define Kenyans way of life in employment, politics and amazingly in some commercial engagements. If we thought the British colonialists were good in practicing the divide and rule policy then Kenyans have perfected the art of ethnic divisiveness.
Unfortunately as can be seen happening in the political realm at present all the arguments for and against the prosecution at ICC in Hague are largely influenced by ethnic mindset. What seems to be falling through the cracks is also that innocent people lives and property were destroyed in post bungled 2007 polls and that the scale of the violence had some culprits who should be answering. It does not matter if the culprit is one or one hundred what is critical is that thorough and very independent investigations and prosecutions need to happen.
In as much as Kenya is a sovereign state and has almost a half a century old since independence, there is so much distrust in most of its institutions both locally and internationally. After all most of the events that have happened since independence give impetus to the feeling that you can’t trust Kenyan politics and her leaders. So many commissions to investigate numerous crimes since independence have been done but it so far looks that they were conveniently formed to ride the political storms of the day.
That is the unfortunate circumstances the Ocampo six have found themselves in. In examining the gravity of the matter there is all indications that investigations would reveal a large number of people involved in the violence. I emphasize that deeper, thorough and very independent investigations need to happen as to stop the demagoguery of Kenya’s elections violence.
The unfortunate thing is that everything around Kenya is always shrouded in tribalism and ethnic balkanization. This is what will continue to ride along the arguments surrounding the ICC involvement in post 2007 poll chaos investigations. Similarly the country political temperatures will continue to rise as we head to another presidential succession. You will soon be treated to all manner of political demagoguery and ethnic balkanization. If ethnicity so defines engagements in different Kenyan sectors then in politics it only get worse. What simply happens in politics is a manifestation of the deep root of the culture of tribalism and tribal thinking in Kenya. Tribalism remains a big curse in the Kenyan fabric. How unfortunate for Kenya nationhood!
The writer is a Consultant and a Researcher working for a Not for Profit Organisation in Kenya