By Sitati Wasilwa
We have anchored Kenyan politics on peoples’ ethnic orientations for some years. Perhaps, this confirms and affirms that ethnic barons have hijacked the ideals of patriotism and nationhood. Our predecessors championed for these ideals strongly during independence.
We need to appreciate one socio-cultural aspect that prevails in our country. This aspect is ethnic diversity. We have failed to appreciate this opportunity perennially. Instead, we choose to follow a dangerous path of negative ethnicity.
Negative ethnicity has always led to chaos or nearly into chaos in this country.
In 1992, several parts of the country faced tribal clashes. Politicians incited many of these clashes. In 1997, the situation was the same, although other parts of the country experienced tranquility. By 2002, such instances reduced, largely due to the political wave that sought to sweep KANU out of power.
In 2007/08, the situation was perhaps the worst ever in post-independence Kenya up to this time.
In 2013, the situation was calm, thanks to the ICC cases that were on going at the time. However, it seems we never learn lessons, especially after the General Elections. Politicians retreat to their ethnic bastions. They mislead some ignorant citizens about how individuals from certain communities are their perceived political enemies.
The unity that Kenyans portray during catastrophic times or during events that our national teams participate in amazes me. They trend topics on social media about how we are one as Kenyans but the tune changes when it comes to politics. This is pretense and hypocrisy of the highest order. We seem to implement the antics of the proverbial ostrich that buries its head in the sand in the wake of impending danger.
Negative ethnicity affects us all
Why do some Kenyans allow politicians to exploit their minds? In any case, I think that the greatest threat to the existence of humanity is the lack of freethinking. A politician influencing some Kenyans to entertain skewed thoughts of ethnic-based politics denotes lack of independent minds.
Worst of all, the disease of negative ethnicity affects young people the most. They propagate this kind of politics all over social media. It is unfortunate that majority of such young people have had the opportunity to attend educational institutions. Maybe, such misled minds are what Bob Marley referred to as educated fools: they are educated but cannot think in way that the society desires.
The reason why we do not prosper as a country economically is due to ethnic-based politics. Tribalism promotes the “our time to eat” philosophy which enhances avarice. Similarly, it entrenches the common Kenyan cultural disposition I refer to as the ‘mtu wetu’ syndrome. In such a case, members of a particular ethnic community defend a corrupt person from the tribe. They defend the person in the name of ‘perceived enemies’ targeting them.
We need to distance ourselves from such shenanigans of negative ethnicity. We should chart a new path of issue-based politics. It is possible fellow Kenyans. Let us not supplant our gains as a state with tribalism. We have taken this path before and it should serve as a fundamental lesson if we seek to prosper.
(First published on Ureport. Edited for clarity).