TRIBALISM. How I wish it was nothing more than just another word in the English dictionary! Unfortunately it is much more than just a nine letter word.
Tribalism is defined as the state of being organized in or an advocate for a tribe or tribes. That is according to Wikipedia. Tribalism in terms of conformity, is a way of thinking or behaving in which people are loyal to their own tribe or social group.
Tribalism implies the possession of a strong cultural or ethnic identity that separates one member of a group from the members of another group. People of a particular tribe have a strong feeling of identity which is not a bad thing. We are humans and humans from the start of time have always been social, always striving to have an identity.
In Kenya we have tribes too just like in many other African countries. Most of us including me myself have our own tribes. In Kenya we have 43 official tribes and until recently we had 42 tribes, thanks to the addition of the Makonde people.
Makonde people have been in Kenya for decades but had not been officially accepted as Kenyans. President Uhuru Kenyatta just recently, in a ceremony offered the Makonde people with identification cards. They have been requesting for IDs from the government for a very long time and personally last year, I happened to stumble on their peaceful demonstration on Moi Avenue in Nairobi as I was rushing to class. Now I hear they are very excited. They registered as voters as well and now for the first time in their history, they will be part of the Kenyan registered voters (me included) who will be choosing leaders this coming general election in August this year.
Join me in congratulating our brothers and sisters of the Makonde tribe.
Now before I give you the reasons to why I think tribalism is disgusting, first allow me to tell you why I compared it to cannibalism. You all know, have seen or heard of cannibalism. Maybe you watched it in a movie, read in a book or even witnessed it.
Cannibalism or anthropophagy is the act of eating another of ones own species. Or the act or practice of humans eating the flesh or internal organs of another human being. A person who practices cannibalism is called a cannibal. Some of the reasons for this practice are believed to be cultic, rituals and during war. Countries or regions that have been known to be notorious for cannibalism in the world include;
- Papua New Guinea
- Amazon Basin
Cannibalism is disgusting!
Just like cannibalism, tribalism too is disgusting. Let me tell you why.
1.Tribalism makes people hate their identity
On daily basis in the streets of Nairobi and many more other places in Kenya, we come across people who make you feel like it’s a curse coming from whichever ethnic tribe you come from. Sometimes all it takes for you to be branded as coming from a particular tribe is your face. Someone just looks at your face and decides you are either, Kamba, Luo, Kalenjin, Luhya or Kikuyu. From that guy in the matatu who curses you like you are Lucifer himself just because you accidentally stepped on his shoe, which by the way you appologized, to that parent who decides you can’t marry her daughter just because you come from a particular tribe. Here your last name identifies you. Hence you are better off not mentioning it in the first place unless it’s the last resort.
2.Tribalism determine who you love
You can’t control your heart, neither can you decide who you fall in love with. You just find yourself in love with someone. This most happens in institutions like in Universities where you fall in love with someone you have no idea where they come from. You just don’t care at the moment until it comes to the part where they have to introduce you to their families and all hell breaks loose. The parents, siblings, guardian or whoever is or feels responsible for them just bluntly decides you can’t marry that person you are so much in love with just because you come from “that”tribe.
3. Stereotyping people
No one likes to be stereotyped just because they speak with a particular accent or they come from a particular region or tribe. Someone calls you a thief just because you are a Kikuyu, like every Kikuyu is a thief or as if no thief has ever been caught from the other tribes. Or another decides you eat so much ugali just because you come from the Luhya tribe. Show me a tribe here in Kenya today that it’s people don’t consume ugali and I will show you a liar. Go to the supermarket any day and do your research on people shopping for flour and decide for yourself if they are all from the Luhya tribe. You will be surprised. Likewise not everyone from the Luo tribe lives extravagant life or likes to show off even if they own nothing. There are so many humble individuals I have interacted with from that tribe. The same goes to people assuming just because you are a Kalenjin, you run fast. That’s a lie. I am sure there are people from that tribe who can barely run, and not because they have deformed limbs or something. They simply can’t run even if it’s to save their own lives.
4.Hinders economic growth
Today in our country you still have to come from someone’s tribe to be given a tender or to get employed. It’s 21st century for crying out loud. Your papers are in order, you met all the qualifications, you impressed in the interview and at the end of the day you are still jobless. The one who got the job was just handpicked because their last name sounded less threatening. This leaves out brilliant individuals who maybe would have steered that company to the next level, in turn creating more job opportunities and in the process boosting the economy.
5. Undermines democracy
When it comes to elections here in Kenya, you are required to vote as a block so as to get as many votes as possible for your preferred candidate. It doesn’t matter if the candidate in question deserves it or not. You have to vote for someone for no other reason apart from the mere fact that they are from your tribe. This undermines democracy. It makes us as a country have bad leaders. Corrupt, tribal and poor performers. You need to have that freedom to look beyond your own tribe to make your choice and elect someone worth your vote.
6. Election violence
In 2007 Kenyans voted in a general election and we are all aware of the violence that followed after retired president Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner contrary to many people’s expectations of the ex Prime Minister Raila Odinga being the winner. It led to the violence that led to the death of over a thousand people and many more displaced from their homes and not forgetting the property that was destroyed and looted. It was a bad phase in our history that any sane Kenyan can never ever wish it to happen again. And the violence was much fuelled by tribalism. If we start seeing each other as just fellow Kenyans, we will never experienced such violence again, I’m confident.
You see why I hate Tribalism and despise tribalists? We are one people, created in God’s image and sharing one beautiful country. All our energy should be directed to building our country, fighting vices like corruption and creating many job opportunities and not hating and discriminating against each other on the basis of their tribes.
I rest my case.