No matter how much human beings like to color coat human ills, data shows the truth about humanity. 95% of Black Americans vote for the democratic party. No issue can change that reality. 98% of Kikuyus voted for Uhuru Kenyatta in the last elections. 92% of Kalenjins voted for Uhuru Kenyatta because of his affiliation with William Ruto, who is Nandi! 98% of Luo voted for Raila Odinga and will do the same during these coming elections. Every tribal group in Kenya will vote according to their tribal affiliation and as per instructions from their “chiefs”. This is a matter of fact. That is why pollsters are a waste of time in Kenya!
In the beginning, the nation of Kenya was not as tribal. Tom Mboya enjoyed a great support from Kikuyus who voted him MP during the time of Kenyatta. Daniel Arap Moi enjoyed the support of majority of tribes in the beginning of his administration. It is therefore possible for there to be a person who can reach out to all tribal groups and, though not bringing all to vote for him, would bring a big enough majority to enjoy a national mandate. But the new constitution in Kenya has made it impossible for there to be less tribalism. It is almost impossible for a Kikuyu to be elected governor of Kisumu or a Kalenjin to be elected governor of Kiambu! The new constitution has legalized tribalism.
To understand tribalism and racism, one must admit that these are realities within human societies and culture that are part of our human DNA. Jomo Kenyatta’s presidency understood this fact and did much to try and alleviate the effect of these tribal tendencies. By creating an education system based upon merit, Kenyans learned to adjust culturally to accommodate each other outside of their tribal orientation. In most of the government high schools, boys and girls from all over the country became brothers sharing the same dorm, eating the same food, seating together in class rooms, playing together as one team in school sports, and acknowledging their faith in one God. The entry of chaplains in high schools was a delicious meal that encouraged young people to one faith in Yesu Kristo.
I remember preaching at alliance boys high school back in the 80s. To see all those boys together in worship was a magnificent testament that the Jomo Kenyatta policy was the best way to remove that which is bad about tribalism and submit to the good of diversity within culture. The new constitution actuates tribalism and the news media and tribal broadcasting networks do not help. Kenyatta sought to create a new tribe of doctors, lawyers, engineers, et-cetera!
But is tribalism or racism all evil? To answer this question, we must look at the origins of tribalism. In genesis chapter 11. “Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babelbecause there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.”
Tribalism is a divinely instituted decree. Given man’s proximity to evil, God knew that if not controlled, man would be destructive. However, like all divine decrees, God offers a way out of this evil so that it becomes a blessing. God calls humanity to a unity that goes beyond the natural state of decadence! It offers a solution. And it is this solution that Kenyan school system sought to give by having a policy of State – Church partnership in education. You see, each diverse culture has certain traits that are beneficial to the common good of all.
But under the cross of Christ, all tribes and cultures are brought back to the time before the tower of Babel to build a Kingdom that is not destructive, but one that brings all men to the worship of God in Christ. A Kingdom that seeks good for all equally! The sad thing in Kenya is that many of God’s shepherds are also tribal!
Teddy Njoroge Kamau (PhD)
Diaspora Messenger Senior Columnist