Census: Ethnic data vital for Kenya culture

Tuesday August 25 2009

By SAM KIPLAGAT

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said data on ethnicity is important as it will help market Kenya as a country of diverse cultures.

The director of communication in the Ministry Prof Egara Kabaji said one of the its pillars on foreign policy framework was cultural diplomacy.

“The many ethnic communities found within our borders, each with its own language and cultural heritage is key component of this diversity,” he said.

He added that getting the data on ethnicity was, in a very significant way, Kenya’s pride and heritage since it has a “galaxy of cultures within the borders.”

Prof Kabaji also said a fundamental practice of cultural diplomacy entails the exchange and sharing of ideas, information, art, lifestyles, value systems, traditions, languages, beliefs and other aspects of the cultures within the nation.

Some local non-governmental organisations have been opposed to Kenyans stating their tribe during the census and called on people to answer the particular question that they were tribe Kenya.

But Prof Kabaji said the data on ethnic constitution will advance the Ministry’s cultural diplomacy.

“More than ever before, culture is playing a vital role in international relations and the struggle for space and cultural influence has taken centre stage in the global context,” he said.

He said that showcasing facts and figures about the country’s cultural diversity was "significant aspect of Kenya’s engagement with the international community.”

“Kenya cannot live in denial. We are a country composed of many ethnic communities. Stating ones ethnic community is not tribalism. Tribalism entails discrimination along tribal lines,” he said.