The last few weeks have seen an uprising in the world against racism and police brutality. The cause; George Floyd’s death in the USA. The revolt has been televised and re-shared all over the world in unison. Back home, Kenyans held demos protesting George Floyd’s death at the USA embassy and a localized version was witnessed outside parliament buildings.
Why did we have to wait this late to hold demos against police brutality in Kenya? It has been constantly ongoing in, followed by zero actions from citizens - apart from a few tweets and rants by netizens – there haven’t been much going on.
This is not about police brutality; much has been said and it seems to be getting home. The Inspector general recently started weekly tweet chats ‘#ENGAGETHEIG’ and I hope that this will be a move that will leave notable changes in the sector.
Everyone has a role to play, it is no longer a universal thing, lets handle it personally; we shall win the fight.
Are we mentally enslaved even when it comes to acting on what ails us? What is holding back from fighting the biggest plague that ails us, tribalism, not by words but by taking meaningful action. When will we face this giant boldly and hold it by its horns? When are we going to stop voting for our tribal lords? For how long will I get the question, ‘Jina Kamoche ni ya kutoka maeneo gani’?
For how long will we get efficient services based on our second names? Tribalism stands out as the biggest form of discrimination in the country and we are all advocates of the same in various ways. It is sad that close to 60 years since Kenya gained it’s independence, we are still battling the same ills that were experienced when the nation was an infant. How many more years to go before we wake up from our slumber? How far or how close are we?
The people we have always expected to be of help in controlling tribalism have been the biggest advocates of the same, directly, or indirectly. Our politicians, clergy, teachers and worse still, our parents – parents have restrained their sons and daughters from intermarrying, refused to attend weddings or even bless their marriages simply because they are marrying from tribes they consider their cultural ‘foes’.
Tribalism is a plague. I see tribalism – which is largely Political Tribalism – as a form of stunted psychological and sociological growth. Politicians are always blamed – rightfully – for inflaming tribal passions. But the tribal logic resonates with most of the youthful population, who are the majority in Kenya. We have always had a pandemic ailing us, not an ‘import’ like the now famed Covid-19, No. It is a pandemic that exists within our local boundaries, spread around by our own friends, families, heroes, and ourselves.
As we fight police brutality and racism on twitter, let us not forget to fight a giant that lives amongst us and always bites back during electioneering periods. We need to fight it with the same energy being put in fighting the pandemic, the same vigor being put into ensuring that BBI proposals are adopted. Tribalism is a vice that has stood between us and great opportunities, good governance, peace, and unity in the nation.
Everyone has a role to play, it is no longer a universal thing, lets handle it personally; we shall win the fight. We need to do much more than cross our fingers and hope for a swarm of political candidates with the supernatural formula of personal charisma and appeal. We need to kill off fear that has blurred our logic and stopped our change of behavior.
To beat it, we have got to weed our souls.