Kenya is talking about having or not having a national dialogue. Should it decide to have one, it must discuss lack of national cohesion and ethnic integration that is fueled by ever growing negative ethnicity.
With ever growing ethnic disharmony, anxieties, tensions and suspicions, Kenyans today live with palpable fear that, anytime, her communities could go for each others’ throat while Kenya would explode and disintegrate. Especially Cord demonstrations, rallies and mass actions threaten this in people who have not yet forgotten post election violence of 2007/8.
Negative ethnicity that today plagues Kenya is a cancer that requires proper diagnosis to treat and cure. If it is not diagnosed and cured properly, negative ethnicity will remain rampant while the nation will continue to tremble under ethnic divisions, disharmony, tensions and never ending ethnic wars that we see in areas like Mandera, Wajir and Marsabit.
A nation plagued by negative ethnicity cannot develop or grow. As Kenya therefore discusses whether to have or not to have a national dialogue, it must put at the centre of this debate negative ethnicity, from which it must first liberate itself. But if for avoidance of blame or false pride, the nation chooses to ignore negative ethnicity, it will only have itself to blame when it explodes.
When Kenya gained independence, President Kenyatta did not list negative ethnicity as one of Kenya’s worst problems alongside poverty, disease and ignorance. Today however, many concede that negative ethnicity is the leading cause of our ethnic disharmony, ethnic leadership and ethnically distributed national poverty.
To escape our ethnic trap, it is the ideal time to re-look and consider negative ethnicity as the cause of social disharmony, ethnic hostilities, hate speech, ethnic political rivalries and enmities and fearfully, ethnic confrontations and wars that are never adequately publicized by media.
Of course, corruption and religious extremism, compete with negative ethnicity in unleashing social disharmony and sabotaging national integration but negative ethnicity easily beats both because while thieves from many communities can unite as they do in Kenya, communities smitten by negative ethnicity will use genocide to eradicate one another.
And while religious extremism will promote hate of people from other religions, the hate of negative ethnicity will easily overwhelm hate of religious extremism because negative ethnicity has more communities to recruit from than al Shabaab has religions to recruit from.
To enhance cohesion and integration, people must understand negative ethnicity and diagnose it well to be able to eradicate it. Like a disease, which negative ethnicity is, unless we do a proper diagnosis of it, we will never be able to eliminate it.
Negative ethnicity begins to destroy at the point where it makes some communities think and claim they are superior while believing others to be inferior and therefore deserve less, consciousnesses that are both false but believable and spreadable.
Tragically, there are also communities that may believe they are inferior, deserve less and other communities are superior and deserve more. By classifying some people superior to others, negative ethnicity becomes the greatest enemy of national cohesion and integration.
Because it is seen as a savior by many communities, negative ethnicity has destroyed ethnic cohesion at both national and county levels. As long as it is the ideology of Kenyan politics, leaders, economy, political parties, national and county governments, religions and social outlook, negative ethnicity will continue to be king in Kenya.
And because it is the ideology of our politics, leaders and governments, negative ethnicity has stealthily managed to eradicate nationalism to which leaders only give lip service.
Having taken our leaders at all levels captive, negative ethnicity has redefined the purpose of leadership to mean eating and helping one’s community to eat while, of course, blocking others from eating.
Negative ethnicity works by demonizing and killing the humanity of both its victims and perpetrators. In the process, it also kills our morality and integrity.
As it helps leaders to eat, negative ethnicity also eats into all our political, social and economic body organs of leadership, religions, institutions of learning, government ministries and even constitutional commissions which were created to among other functions, save us from negative ethnicity.
Negative ethnicity has also emasculated us so much so that we hardly dare to acknowledge the malaise in us, only seeing the monster in others. Yet by refusing to see the beam in us, we deny ourselves the right to criticize the speck in others, which allows negative ethnicity to spread its tentacles everywhere with least resistance.
Negative ethnicity has also been difficult to eradicate because it has its beneficiaries among ethnic elites who will defend it tooth and nail and its victims who embrace it as their savior or protector.
Unlike before and as suicidal as ever, we now have social media as our ever available theater of self-destruction and forum of propagating the most shameless forms of negative ethnicity.
We even have governments of negative ethnicity purposely constituted by, of and for just two ethnic coalitions, GEMA and KAMATUSA at the exclusion all other Kenyan communities who will behave no better if they get a chance. Unfortunately, without nationalism, we have no national leaders, only ethnic warlords in power.
Finally, salvation from negative ethnicity is our worst predicament. Though we condemn older people for promoting negative ethnicity, social media tells us, youths are its worst propagators. We blame leaders for perpetuating negative ethnicity in order to enslave masses, but those masses are completely drunk with its addictive hate. We reach ethnic elders to save us, but they are creations of ethnic gods.
To save us from negative ethnicity, we need fearless prophets. To escape its captivity, we must embrace humanist social democracy that has proven its capacity to equalize in Scandinavian countries.