Tribe and tribalism has always had the ability to generate and sustain debate in Kenya. Why any freethinking person would assume that a tribal mate occupying the house on the hill would change the whole tribe’s fortunes has always baffled me. It is ridiculous and resoundingly stupid to believe this gobbledygook. People can only gain and prosper if the government of the day has policies that are pro people, not pro tribe. It came as a sad shock when my attention was drawn to an event where Francis Atwoli led a certain tribal grouping to Maasai Mara to strategize on how the Luhya could only come up with a single presidential candidate to guarantee a win at the ballot. They want Luhya solidarity come election time; they are not talking of the solidarity for all Kenyans at a time when our national fabric of unity is in tatters, the Mombasa Republican council has gone full swing and is wrecking havoc in parts of the Coastal Region giving the government and security Agencies sleepless nights. The unity call as a remedy for Luhya to have one of their own as a protection against other contenders is misplaced, if Atwoli and Co. think that this is a remedy, they are damn wrong because the remedy will be worse than the disease itself. How the Luhya win would translate for progress for Kenyans was definitely not an agenda on the table at the retreat.
Proximity to State House has never been, is not and will never be the panacea for “tribal” problems. We still have very poor Kalenjins despite the fact that Moi was at the pinnacle of Kenya’s government for more than two decades, my Kikuyu brothers have their share of troubles notwithstanding the fact that two out of our three presidents so far have been Kikuyus. The Kikuyu in Mukuru Kayaba and the Kalenjin in Kibira’s Laini Saba each wake up in abject poverty powered only by hope and prayers chasing the wind and the ever elusive means to financial security. In substantive economic terms, these common people get their clocks cleaned each and every day while the tribal kingpins like Ruto and Uhuru and their minions have more than they can wish for. If indeed there was such a thing as positive tribalism, they would do something for the poor, but they won’t because they are in the 1 percent tribe. What we need now as a country is a sense of direction to the right path, not tribal conclaves. The action by Atwoli and his group is not an isolated one, but a trend in one of the many such groupings which bring together elites of a particular tribe which then imply to speak for and represent the views of the tribe by unilaterally “expropriating” the will of the people. We have seen it with Gema and Kamatusa and we saw that it was an agenda driven by people of selfish and questionable motives. For anyone to have such a stupid belief is madness bordering on insanity because what it provides is merely psychological amusement.
Kenya is a constitutional democracy where the right to suffrage is a touchstone guaranteed to each eligible voter irrespective of his/her tribe. We should not therefore allow to be led to wade in the muck of tribal politics at the behest of some self-conceited individuals. The world is fast expanding but coalescing at the same time, the Chinese is doing business not with Zambia, but in Zambia. China is developing because of the benefits of bilateral trade, it relies on outside market for its economic growth, and it is thus regrettable that leaders would think that the way to progress is to retreat to tribal cocoons as opposed to reaching out. Now is the time for progressives to completely and permanently discredit and dismantle the thought that it takes “one of our own” to be in a position of power for us to succeed. Some Kalenjins and Kikuyus have tried it and the stark reality is that it failed. We need policies to sort out all the people not patronage for the politically correct, in Tanzanian parlance, siasa za sera na vitendo not talk and talk. We need to intelligently express ourselves on those ideas and actions we believe in, tribalism is not one of calculus to factor in.
We have a mind and will of our own with sanguine expectations of the future, let us then be vigilant against the retrogressive forces that want to bind us to our tribes instead of freeing us to the world. If we rest on our laurels and do nothing, we must rest assured that there will be consequences and repercussions – not at all beneficial to any of us. Let us craft a message of unity and brotherhood founded on the belief that we can only be strong together in our different shades and colours, tribes and races in harmony. Tribalism is a disease from which all other troubles and consequences flow and tribalists seek power for no reason other than to exploit others and cover up their crimes. The common Kenyan is exasperated and frustrated with the overt show of tribalism of the elites.