In Breaking the Yoke of Tribalism, I continue to preach against tribalism in Kenya; what President Magufuli said is an understatement, truth is, tribalism is not just holding us back, it’s destroying us as a nation and each one of us has a role in that, question is, are you for the destruction or for hope and progress of the nation?
Let’s hope and pray the latter; at least for a vast majority of us.
And now the oped in its entirety:
Politicians have from time immemorial exploited the hapless vulnerability of humans to succumb, to appeal to emotions based on race, ethnicity or other immutable characteristic to get elected to office only to pursue selfish agendas. This is with little or no service to benefit these very people.
The most recent example is in the United States, where Donald Trump shamelessly whipped up the emotions of nativist White America (read racists), and mostly rode on that wicked strategy to the White House where has thus far confirmed some of the worst that was feared and with much more to come — if he survives his own self-destruction.
There are many parallels between racism in America and tribalism in Kenya.
Racism has historically been defined as the belief that race is the primary determinant of human capacity; that a certain race is inherently superior or inferior to others, and/or that individuals should be treated differently according to their racial designation.
Tribalism, on the other hand, is the manifestation of strong cultural identity among members of a group that treats as different other cultural groups, which also equally have strong cultural identity among its members and equally treat other cultural groups as different.
Group identity along tribal lines or ethnicity is not per se a bad thing, however.
Such cultural identification become nefarious when used as an excuse to hate or otherwise engage in activities intended to annihilate one or more of the tribes or individuals within it.
Indeed, just as racism in America has been an impediment to greater achievement or progress for blacks, so too has tribalism and negative ethnicity been in Kenya — even among those who practice it.
To be sure, people are not born racists or tribalists, much the same way they are not born knowing right or wrong.
According to psychologists, both racism and tribalism are learned habits.
Children learn hatred, racism, and all these other negative traits from early on but not all of them allow it to define who they become later on in life.
Unfortunately and largely by choice, however, the unlearning of racism or tribalism and other wicked behaviour learned in those formative years stays with some people to the day they die.
Thus, you have grown men and women who leave their respective homes for higher education abroad only to bring their tribalism along, worse than even that practiced by the villagers, who never saw the inside of a classroom
What a shame if these men and women cannot shake loose from the yokes of tribalism. What hope do we have for our beloved country?
These tribalists usually believe that given the “superiority” they have been led to believe has accrued to them by virtue of birth which no one should take away. On the other hand, they are led to believe they’re not or cannot be equal to others they have since childhood, known or have been told are inferior — a belief whose manifestation leads to resentment by the rest who adopt a hatred of their own with the end outcome being exactly what we have had since independence, namely, one tribe believing no matter what, one of their own must be at either end of the table regardless of outcome at the ballot which we should all just agree that’s simply wrong and unacceptable anymore.
Put another way, every Kenyan must ask himself or herself this simple question: Am I a tribalist and if so, why?
Why is it you would have a phobia of a Luo becoming president of our country simply because he’s a Luo? Why?
We must as Kenyans rise above this pettiness and backwardness and learn to choose our leaders based on merit and boot them from office when they have failed as Jubilee has regardless of whether they’re one of “us” or not.
That’s what we need for us to truly break loose from the yokes of colonialism of which tribalism is a by-product and that we must do come August 8.