Tuesday, February 28, 2006

We are going a long way

I try to avoid politics when I can. But when we talk about national development (a topic I am most passionate about) somehow politics has to sneak its way. And if we talk about politics, then tribalism walks in slowly, rears its ugly head and divides the debaters.

The Kikuyu in me has become idiosyncratic I fear. I tend to defend any ills committed by a Kikuyu. In fact I could give you a million excuses of why that Kikuyu had to do what it had to do. When we were presented with a half baked constitution, devoid of merit and outrightly substandard I defended it the way a mother whose kid has been accused of stealing the neighbours mangoes would. Not because everybody who voted against it did it because of the reasons listed above.

We coined sayings like The house of Mumbi and proceeded to declare that it was under threat. For some strange reason Kikuyus have a superiority complex. The pride you feel when you read a John Grisham or a Sidney Sheldon and read about the Kikuyus of Kenya. The Kikuyu in me has refused to die. That is the pride called “before a fall”. We also say “Kikuyus have saved this country.

History has favoured my tribesmen/women and so has climate. My father calls everyone a “kabila”, is also Luophobic.

In due course they were handed a humble pie. So we figured a way to eat the pie humbly in the most pompous and callous manner. Sack them! You could almost hear the chorus. And the big man for once gave in the pressure to sack and sack he did.

The country sunk into deeper problems that it was before. In almost 2 weeks prices of commodities had gone up by 30%, there was famine in the country, there was a shortage of registration forms and it has been established one cannot replace an ID for the next 6 months. Someone has declared there is a person in Nairobi who has sinned as the rains keep giving us a wide berth.

We cannot blame a Kikuyu for just like everyone else he thinks as a Kikuyu first then as a person.

It is with this background in tribalism that we must ponder if we are willing to let this country go to the dogs just because we will not sacrifice our own.

Just in the morning, I was listening to a local fm station whereby it is too obvious that our ministers are handing some folks resignations and awarding their tribesmen posts.

Kulundu could be heard defending Lumbaso “she is not my sister…” The fact that she is a Luhya was something Kulundu should have thought about before the appointment. Isn't also sinister that his brother Kulundu Bitonye is the Principal of Kenya School of Law now?

Then there is Kivutha Kibwana a Law Professor and currently the Minister of Environment who has just replaced Professor Michieka with a Dr. Mwinzi his own tribesman.

Henry Obwocha the now acting Minister for Planning has appointed a Kisii (whose name I am unable to write) to the Kenya Ports Authority.

We cannot avoid tribalism, it is what defines a particular people. I am a Kikuyu, I am a Maasai,.that is Kenyan. When tribalism will fly out of the window, individualism will set in or a class social order as it is in the America.

But how do we avoid letting this tribalism sink us into deeper problems than we are already in. Does it count that if all the people I think are qualified are my tribesmen do I out rightly become a tribalist? Americans seem to have allowed a class of persons to rule them as has the Britons. Kenyans cannot allow a small group of people read tribe to rule them!

I have studied in various colleges since I left High School. I have established the proprietors of the certain college. It has always shocked me that the tribe of a proprietor always reflects our lecturers. If the owner is a Kikuyu, about 75% of the lecturers will be Kikuyus and so forth.

So why do Kenyans all over sudden imagine that a person who has been working with his tribesmen all his life will now become too accommodative to other tribes. It is all in the social setting.

A person growing up in Kisumu will probably attend Kisumu Boys and then set out for Maseno University where he will only have associated with his tribesmen throughout the time.

To get rid of tribalism we will have to do more than shout from the rooftops of how our leaders are tribal. The past regime was tribal, this one is tribal and the next one will be.

We will need to get rid of the quota system that resigns provincial schools from admitting persons from outside their province district. About 75% of the schools only admit students joining the school only from their district.

We could also ban mother tongue from being a language of instruction in the village schools.

Granted, majority of Kenyans reside in the rural areas, and from these rural areas do you find our most leaders coming from.

The problem of tribalism is not going to die away soon. We better admit. We have grown up being a certain tribe and just like the mzungu took a long time to admit a person can be black so does tribalism work.

Disclaimer : I am not tribal.I do not condone tribalism.

I have read a very interesting post this morning


  1. Well take the first position here..
    Pliz KM dont come after my lil legs...

    True gal Tribalism is not going away any soon and will remain their to haunt us.
    What happened to the "we are all brothers and sisters and should not look at where you come from?'

  2. I'm the 1st to be second!! Yaay!!

    Now to read...

  3. Depends on how you define tribalism... If tribalism is a sense of pride and belonging to one's tribe, then I am a tribalist.

    However, using tribe to categorise, oppress, favour or belittle others is where I draw the line...

    Remember the concept of suboptimality where the units work towards their own goals compromising the goals of the whole. That may be the problem in Kenya.

    The tribes may not be using their unique strengths to collectively work towards a better Kenya.

  4. Personally I nowadays refuse to divulge what tribe I am. One can actually hear gears spinning when you divulge it and you are compartmentalized and sterotyped.

    Personally I am disappointed in our generation.

    Back in the day our folks grew up in some little village somewhere, more often than not exclusivey with their tribesmen. They may not have interacted much with other people.

    But what excuse do we have? We grew up in cosmopolitan environments. We know and have interacted with people from other tribes and races.

    What excuse do we have?

  5. You've been reading my mind! I was going to post on a related topic: that what we call "tribalism" continues, in part, because many ethnic groups do not mix (sorry m). Most people don't live in cities, many rarely come into prolonged contact with other groups unless they live in a big city or town, attend a national school or university, or are just plain lucky.

    Good post!

  6. Why is this happening to me...this coming at bad place at your posts....it sucks

  7. Well, I agree with Milo. Totally and entirely

  8. Shiro i must say that this is an interesting write up however(has it occured to you i always post howevers to your posts) you did not address what exactly tribalism is.From the examples you have given i really cant say i see tribalism. how different is that from the current Bush administrations appointment of people from texas in the current administration. how does that translate to being ok but if a masaai appoints masaais we run to say its tribalism.In every society political appointments are never based on merit alone but rather on merit and loyalty. just a point

    as for kikuyus being /feeling superior i have been a kyuk now for a good 29 years and the notion that we feel we are better than other tribes is simply a myth,an old wives tale span by various propaganda agents to discredit a hardworking and progressive people.Yes it is truth that God handed us the better end of what is today kenyan society, but never in my interactions with my fellow tribes men have i ever heard that we are better than anybody.the problem with anti kikuyu feeling in kenya i put it to you is that other tribes strive to bring down kuyks instead of striving to reach that attainable level that makes us stand out be it in commerce or in education which i think are the key issues. now before anyone lashed out on me claiming that this is a clear example of a superiority complex i think we can agree that kyuks are generally well educated and financial set ,so stating facts should not be seen as having a complex "

  9. New joiner here. True this tribalism thing. We all belong to some tribe but in all human honesty we have been conditioned by our predecessors to feel comfortable with our tribesmen(women) and that's why even when I dont have best pals of my tribe, I still feel I that I should hook up a spouse from my tribe.

  10. I once pointed out the fact that many Kikuyus have a superiority complex and for that I was roasted like a pig on a spit!But not to say that other tribes are not proud of who they are, indeed they are but the mistakes made by Kikuyu elite are being borne by everyday men and women Kikuyu and other tribes.
    There is nothing wrong with being proud of your tribe but it should not be used as an excuse to put others down and not work with other tribes for the greater common good.Let's see if our generation can change the present state of affairs.

  11. the societal metamorphosis (wow!! hiyo kizungu jo!!) of the kikuyu mindset has long been ingrained (there i go again...ok am quoting that jango..PLO LUMUMBA) in our cultural leanings.

    anyway as i was trying to espouse, the kikuyu (me being one) will always feel superior to others. Think of Hitler and his attempt at creating a pure caucasian race, hence the Holocaust.
    all in all kenyans have been fed a constant diet of kikuyu hegemony simply because of:
    1. kiuks are the most populous.
    2. Mau Mau (read KIUKS) fought and secured our country's independence.

    all this is crap. The tribe was simply congregated historically in the fertile highlands and the fact that the mounted some rebellion of sorts, gave rise to this mythical notions of superiority!!!

    over time we have come to associate the latent "successes" of the tribe with this complex. this has lead to sociteal ills whereby the majority in the tribe are actually languishing in abject poverty as the Tribe elite reap the fruits of the masses.
    what a sorry state!!! this old elitist homeguard tribal cabal composed of mainly old and senile wazees, simply hoodwink the poor masses into believing that they are supposedly superior!!
    what a sad state of affairs???

  12. I do not mind letting it be known what tribe I come from you can jump to your own conclusions without my help because as soon as you get to know my second name am neatly labeled and filed.
    I grew up in a cosmopolitan environment and as children it was not a bad thing to be a certain tribe actually you would be called masai and you respond without flinching. Whatever happened between then and now I still do not know.

  13. ukabila ni nini?? hili ni swali ambalo limeleta jinamizi na mtafaruko kati yetu wakenya. Nafikiri ukweli wa mambo ni kuwa ukabila umetokana na siasa mbaya ambazo nchi yetu imesingizia kwa muda. ndugu zetu watanzania hawana shida ya ukabila pia wanauganda nafikiri hawana shida ya ukabila.
    wakenya wamepotozwo na viongozi wao wa kisiasa na kusingiziwa kuwa kuna mvutano kati ya kabila za wakenya. suluhisho ni kutumia lugha moja haswa kiswahili ambayo wakenya kwa ujumla wanijua. pia ni wakati wa vijan kuuchukua mwongozo wa nchi hii tukufu.
    jibu hili pia limo kwenye blogu

  14. @joe
    i think we can agree that kyuks are generally well educated and financial set

    Please expound... We being who? Are Kenyans generally well educated and financially set? Where did you get your statistics?

    2. Mau Mau (read KIUKS) fought and secured our country's independence.

    Does Kenya owe its independence to kyuks?

    Come on guys... I think this discussion is going off on the wrong tangent.

  15. @Shiroh.. I didnt read the blog post coz I think the way to stop tribalism is to stop analysing, discussing and it. I mean I seriously never think about it until someone brings it up!!

  16. @nakeel,we are usually jus brothers in words.
    @Milo,i think a tribe should only give a synopsis of who you are.
    @M, i suffer stereotypical people everything. Recently a pal said she is lucky not to be a kiuk because she wouldn't have a butt. what the heck!!!
    @Keguro,thx God i said it first because i would hav read it in Greek...
    @Joe,yeah you r at it again,i was looking at tribalism in a way that it is not our fault we become tribalistic!
    @flosky,welcome and sit down.In other words we have been brainwashed to think we owe something to someone that we should marry our own tribe..
    @aco,better said....we feel/believe/ we are superior. Mmh i agree painfully though
    @kritik,seems if given a chance you could give us a piece of your mind....
    @prousette,sometimes it is not our wish that we file. Imagine i am told you can marry anything but a Kikuyu woman because she will run off with your kids...bla bla bla and then you my second name is Wanjiru..you shall run
    @Muhukumu wa Sanaa,imekuwa ni rahisi kutugawanyisha na kabila.
    @ Milo,hey those tactics you learned at the gym for one day..he he tangent Milo tangent!
    @kenyangal..wooi,aki just read

  17. I am proud to say am a kyuk first and a kenyan second . that does not mean i dont love my country , it does not mean i belittle other tribes . i am simply proud of my heritage.it makes little difference who the president of kenya is as long as he rules justly . the sufurias of ugali in my mums kitchen have not increased because a kyuk is in statehouse nor will they reduce if a jango is in power