Tribalisim Like All Bad Learned Habits Can Be Unlearned

24 Apr

Following further below, is my response to the immediately following by a blogger who essentially believes there was deliberate efforts by the Kenya government during his early school years to make Kikuyus appear superior and everyone else inferior by manipulating the use of school textbooks to accomplish this.

His Posting:


I have suffered internally with this thought for long and I think it is time I did something about it. I must admit I can not continue suffering like this yet it was the government’s blunder.

While I did my early primary schooling in the rural areas where the only language I could understand well was my mother tongue and slight and incorrigible kiswahili.the government deliberately designed a curriculum to favour some tribes than others.

I am now looking for a lawyer to put together for me my accusation against the government. All the books i read in English during my early education were designed in a way that i lived believing that there only existed Njugunas,Kamaus and the likes.These two names feature well in myb mind as my story books only mentioned the two.

Here we go:

  • The bus driver Mr.Njuguna asked the pupils to be seated in the bus
  • The shopkeeper,Mr.Kamau gave the boy enough change as he had been asked by his mother Nyokabi

In all the Safari books I was tutored with in my early primary I never saw a name that resembled even the locals names. Then there must have been someone at KIE who developed curriculum with alot of tribalism. The only place I met the name of my kinsmen was in venacular books which was titled” Akeyo olal e chiro” Akeyo gets lost in the market.

I therefore lived knowing that all bus drivers must be from Njuguna’s tribe and all shopkeepers are Kamau or his kinsmen
I want an explanation from the government why they allowed this blander or was it deliberate to make me think am lesser in the society.

And I am serious I need an explanation from KIE as well or else I get a lawyer to sue the government for misleading me and other young stars.

This is not hate speech,I know [_] is fond of fire fighting without a strategy on how to do his job,and may want to pick this as hate speech,but let him if he is the one explain categorically why this was done

My Response:

Your posting reminds me of a recent debate in Texas, USA between hardcore conservatives and liberals on education in general and pre-college student curriculum in particular; conservatives who have virtually taken over every aspect of government in the state of Texas, used their majority in the Texas School Board to put their conservative stamp in education curriculum, their justification: the Texas curriculum was too liberal for their taste (for a news story about this, go to New York Times, for a good blog on the issue, go to this blog).

While it’s true what we learn from early on in life and formative years has a major influence on what we believe or do and who we become later on in life, it is equally true what we learn in those same years that is against the norm or otherwise evil or improper can be unlearned through later education, maturity and exposure. Otherwise, if this were not the case, children born to racist families will always be racists; children exposed to tribalism from that period will always be tribalists; children born of one religion or the opposite will remain so forever, etc.

Unfortunately, however, the unlearning of the vice and other bad things learned in those formative years stays with some people to the day they die either by choice or by choice. This is not a typo, it is deliberate to say those who do not unlearn the vice and other bad things do so by choice.

And this is, precisely, our problem in Kenya today. While I can see the older generation having difficulty shaking ukabila, which I include hate of others simply because of their tribe, I simply do not comprehend why their offspring who are better informed, educated and otherwise exposed fail or refuse to do so.

We have no doubt made progress as time is going by but judging from the exchanges one sees here and on the ground, a lot of work remains to be done but the good news is, there are signs and I am very optimistic we are almost there.

Osama Bin Laden sent his boys to drive two airplanes through two landmark buildings in New York on September 11, 2001. That single act of brazen terrorism instantaneously united the country than ever before in its history; neighbors who hated each other found themselves giving each other hugs; family member who had disappeared from their loved ones found courage to call and say they were okay and were eager to reunite; Democrats who could not stand or simply hated President George W Bush or GW suddenly discovered he was a good guy and that they actually loved him (but that’s how far they could go; his VP Cheney they still hated); in Kenya, Moi so run the country into the ground when he attempted to impose a successor on the country, he was resoundingly told NO by way of the country overwhelmingly electing Kibaki as president in 2002; the aura on the ground and elsewhere in the Diaspora on hKibaki’s inauguration in 2003 was titillating.

What has happened since these euphoric moments? After a few months or so, in America, the neighbors went back to hating each other; a number of family members who reunited with their families soon went back to their hiding; Democrats went back to hating GW so much such that after losing the elections in 2004, he was appointed president by the US Supreme Court which is the first time that has happened in the US; in Kenya, the euphoria of 2002 disappeared such that Raila, who was instrumental in having Kibaki elected that year, faced off with Kibaki in the 2007 elections which most people believe he won but was not sworn as president, leading to the post-election violence and near civil war.

Fortunately, there was a compromise between Kibaki and Raila leading to the current coalition government which is where we find ourselves today.

Where are going to go tomorrow, come the day after election day 2012? Is the country going to rise in jubilation with election of a president they are all happy and eager to lead them to greater unity and prosperity as in 2002 or is it going to be an uncertain and gloomy day as was December 28, 2007?

I, for one, wish and pray it’ll be a jubilant day throughout the country as that bright day on December 28, 2002 when the country confirmed the Moi era was over and was prepared to have Kibaki take us to the promised land.

Were this to be the case, it will be a manifestation that we have learned to unlearn the vice of tribalism.

Peace, Love and Unity.


Is our country ready to finally shake tribalism and all its vestiges?

“I think so but this is not to say our individualism and ethnic culture is thrown out with it as well. The two can happen together harmoniously, i.e., we can get rid of tribalism without sacrificing our pride in individual ethnic culture but certain barbaric cultural activities in all ethnic groups must be shed as well.”

Samuel N. Omwenga, Esq.

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Posted by on April 24, 2011 in Siasa


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