Tribalism not tribe is the enemy of development

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It is foolhardy and credulous to think that you can run for any political office devoid of alliances based on common interest. Especially in a country as ethnically and culturally diverse as Kenya. This recognition of the diversity peoples of Kenya is enshrined in the constitution first in its recognition of these as well as in the provisions to allow for structured regional political alliances and broad support to win the presidential ticket in the general election. This is a standard in any democracy.

Kenya is a nation of micronations. Each proud, distinct and unique. The resourceful Kikuyu, the studious Luhya, the indefatigable Kalenjin, the proud Maasai, the flamboyant Kamba, the exquisite coastal peoples among others. A rainbow nation. Its who we are and who we must embrace. A diverse people that need to work together and coexist for our common good and posterity. A leader who cannot build consensus has failed the first litimus test of democracy which is the ability to unify a diverse people. Tribe is our identity. It is true that we need to get to a point where we are judged by merit and character and not by tribe, but we must also embrace our diversity. Negative ethnicity, nepotism and tribalism is Kenya’s problem not our ethnic identities. This has largely been caused by inequitable distribution and control of national resources through political power. Over the years this environment has become a fertile ground for negative stereotypes and negative ethnicity to fester. Tribalism not tribe has been the enemy of social, cultural and economic development.

Therefore to the lonerangers I say snap out of the naivety and listen to these diverse voices clamouring for unity of purpose in serving the Kenyan people, learn from the history of these diverse people and read the new constitution. That said I think its a great chance for them to participate rather than have any credible chance of winning this elections. Which is the point of a mature democracy. Giving every citizen a chance to make their point regardless. After all its hardly mentioned but the recently concluded elections in the US had 417 candidates runnng for the presidency. And each had something to say.

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© Nathan Wangusi

(Biographical sketch: Nathan Wangusi is a PhD Candidate at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida in the United States of America)


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