Confession of An Unavowed Tribalist
I have been thinking about my own attitude towards the various ethnicities in Kenya and I dare admit that I am a tribalist. Perhaps not the worst kind but I do sometimes take glee in making tribal jabs and stereotyping the other people. I judge individuals based primarily on their ethnicities or attribute certain behavior traits and adjust my expectation of them solely because of their ethnic origin. Nobody is born a tribalist we are taught as such. And on my part I can plead parley being tri-ethnic and having a cosmopolitan upbringing. Anecdotally, being a bat no one can accuse you of being neither mouse nor bird. My diversity is my alibi for being a tribalist.
Evidently, it is the case that no one ethnicity has a monopoly of vice; corruption, unfairness, theft, pilfering of public resources, graft — or conversely virtue ; business savvy, leadership, evenhandedness, genius or innovativeness. These are a function of individual talent, upbringing, personality, exposure and education. Our shallow explanation for vice or virtue is tribe. Yet across the nation we complain of similar vices and celebrate virtue. Perhaps what this should say to us is that given an opportunity any Kenyan anywhere can excel. And left to their predilictions any Kenyan anywhere can be corruptly influenced. One only needs to look at the decay within the county governments to understand that it is the 47 of us not the one of them that are a corrupt people. We should therefore focus on creating an inclusive nation rather than waiting on our proverbial “turn to eat” while inculcating a sense of fairness in the dispensation of opportunity, resources and justice.
We will always be a nation of diverse colors, races, tribes, political persuasions, religions, trades, talents and languages. If we agree that the Luo are a people of charisma, the Kalenjin of loyalty, the Kikuyu of tact, the Luhya of diligence, the Maa of culture, the Kamba of creativity, the Somali of fierceness then we should dare define ourselves as a charismatic, loyal, savvy, diligent, cultured, creative and fierce people. Our diversity if correctly articulated and harnessed is our greatest strength.
So I will start by labeling myself an unavowed and apologetic tribalist and work to undo those attitudes that I will be a voice of reason and unity not division.