This smallness of ethnic mind should worry all Kenyans

Saturday August 12 2017

President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) addressing a crowd on August 4, 2017 during a campaign rally  in Nairobi's Uhuru Park gardens and Nasa leader Raila Odinga. PHOTOS | SIMON MAINA AND TONY KARUMBA | AFP

President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) addressing a crowd on August 4, 2017 during a campaign rally in Nairobi's Uhuru Park gardens and Nasa leader Raila Odinga. PHOTOS | SIMON MAINA AND TONY KARUMBA | AFP 

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Which of the presidential candidates did you vote for? I ask because, in such circumstances, one question always bothers the mind.

Why do presidential polls always drive a deep wedge into Kenya’s body politic on the basis, especially, of tribe?

Are you – by active personal example – dedicated to official Kenya’s stated aim of unity in the struggle to create a nation remarkable by its sense of dedication to justice and mutual assistance in the production and provision of all the means of life to every Kenyan?

If so – if you are a human being, if you are an intelligent member of an ethnic or racial group – shouldn’t time have by now taught you to struggle to become ever more knowledgeable, ever more civilised and ever more humane in your behaviour towards all human beings – towards especially all fellow Kenyans, notwithstanding their ages, their confessions, their genders, their races and their ethnic groups?

Why is it that Kenyans continue to regard one another with such profound mutual distrust in all our social activities?


Why is it that, even when a priest is leading a multi-tribal and multi-racial congregation in supplication to a deity allegedly common to and mutually recognised by all those present, why do we come out of the shrine still more conscious of ourselves as members of a tribe or a race much more than as Kenyans?

The question thus boils down to this: Are you a good Kenyan? After so many decades of an independence frequently troubled, ethnically, shouldn’t what purports to be education – shouldn’t, for instance,  simple biological knowledge  –  have by now taught all of us that existential needs are the same for all human individuals – no matter what tribes or races they may have been born into?

Shouldn’t Kenyans thus know that, in the arena of politics, individuals should be voted for only on the basis of demonstrated ability to help deliver to all Kenyans everything that we need in order for us to be able to live respectable lives as human beings?

In terms especially of consumption, it is simply frightening to watch Kenyans as they scramble for scarce goods.


They appear engaged in a 100-metre race, individuals trying desperately to run away from one another in all directions.

We clearly repel one another as age-groups, as genders, as races, as religions and especially as ethnic groups.

How is it that, a whole 50 years into an independent  political union – achieved through a collective struggle appallingly expensive in terms of the human blood spilt – we remain loudly and destructively hostile and unjust  to one another on the basis of such mental smallnesses as genders, individuals, races, religions and, especially, ethnic groups?

How is it that we repel one another in exactly the same uncivilised and mutually hostile and unjust ways as have always stood in the way of other adjacent tribes and nations in history.


How has Kenya failed completely to learn even one lesson from the hell-for-leather speed at which the Somali, right next door, have tried to run away from one another in desperate but completely ill-advised methods of survival.

No, the question is not “how?” For the way Kenyans mistreat one another, both in politics and in business, is wholly self-manifest to every citizen and every visitor who may give his or her eyes to see it.

No, by far the more urgent question is:  Why? Why do we allow such smallness of the ethnic mind to stand so solidly in our way towards united humanism? 

After such a long time of and such huge expenditures on national “education, why do we remain unable  to tackle our development problems with one mind so as to enter the comity of nations as soon as possible?

Why do we want to continue forever in the ethnic mean-mindedness sponsored by our own leaders?