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February 17, 2019

Kenyans Must Uproot Negative Ethnicity To End Ethnic Conflicts

Flag laid in respect for the post election violence victims. Photo/File
Flag laid in respect for the post election violence victims. Photo/File

Ethnic and clan conflicts are on the rise in many counties making them look intractable, invincible and overwhelming.

Yet ethnic and clan conflicts are spreading so fast and looking so hard to solve because we look over negative ethnicity as their cause, and nationalism as their solution while looking elsewhere for causes and solutions.

In ignoring negative ethnicity and nationalism as cause and solution of conflict, again we look over ideology as cause and solution of conflict and war. Yet, almost unconscientiously, parties go to war because different ideologies separate, divide and pit them against one another until one ideology conquers the other, until antagonistic ideologies agree to co-exist or until a unifying ideology that caters for the interests of all is found.

Different ethnic communities and clans in the same or neighbouring counties are up in arms against one another because they all embrace negative ethnicity, an ideology that instead of uniting, it pits communities and clans against one another in service of elite greed.

So far, ethnic conflicts proliferate because Kenyans have failed to see how negative ethnicity fuels ethnic and clan conflicts and need of nationalism as their solution. Surprisingly, some leaders believe they can end ethnic and clan conflicts without acknowledging and fighting negative ethnicity as their main cause and cure of ethnic marginalisation and discrimination. Without uprooting negative ethnicity, ethnic and clan wars can only get worse.

Currently, we reel under the domination of negative ethnicity because it is the ideology of our politics, parties, party coalitions, communities and clans. As the Somali proverb says, negative ethnicity even ensures we have no escape from it through its mutation from one level to the other: And so it starts as:

Me and my nation against the world. Then, me and my community against the nation or other communities. Thereafter, it is me and my clan against my community or other clans, followed by me and my family against my clan or other families. Then it pits me and my brother against my family. And it ends by pitting me against my brother.

All over, communities and clans are up in arms against one another in many counties, fighting over power, land, boundaries, water, grass, oil and minerals. We must end our hatred of other races, communities and clans because when we finish hating and fighting those who are far, we shall look inward, hate and fight our own brother.

The war against ethnic and clan conflicts is not just a war of government guns against guns of ethnic bandits or vice versa. It is also a war of our ideology against their ideology unless we share the same ideology. But if warring communities and clans share the same ideology with the government, the government will have no moral authority or political will to fight them.

When a government is built upon the ideology of negative ethnicity as Jubilee government is, and Cord government will be tomorrow if they win presidency, government will be immobilised to put out ethnic fires, unite and pacify the country because it will be trying to cure the same disease it has.

If you doubt the power of negative ethnicity to ferment ethnic and clan conflicts, remember when Pokot bandits killed 22 police and President Uhuru demanded return of stolen police guns and production of police killers, Pokot leaders replied their community will not produce them with the defence that, when their neighbours, the Turkana killed 42 police in the Saguta Valley, the President did not demand production of culprits from them.

Interestingly, the intransigence of Pokot leaders reminds one of a story in the Bible, Judges 20 when a man’s wife was raped to death by young criminal perverts of the tribe of Benjamin, which refused to produce them when the rest of Israel demanded their production for punishment, sparking a war between themselves and eleven other tribes of Israel. But is the Pokot community like the tribe of Benjamin ready to go to war against the government over their refusal to produce Pokot police killers? It might, given negative ethnicity, put the tribe before nation.

Negative ethnicity does not only put the tribe before nation, it is fast distorting devolution into majimboism as counties furiously fight over power, boundaries, land and resources that they will not agree to share only because they are different communities and clans.

In Kenya we have both aggressive negative ethnicity that is propagated by beneficiaries of negative ethnicity who are in government or business, and defensive negative ethnicity of victims suffering discrimination and marginalisation. For the government to extinguish the fires of ethnic and clan conflicts, it must itself not constitute beneficiaries of negative ethnicity, or it will be accused of ethnic favouritism, thereby losing moral authority to preach nationalism against ethnic and clan conflicts.

We cannot even ask county governors, executives and assemblies to solve the problem of ethnic and clan conflicts because they are captives of negative ethnicity. This is why MCAs are today at war with their ethnic adversaries in many county assemblies and executives.

Tragically even National Cohesion and Integration Commission, expected to lead the war for cohesion has not declared war against negative ethnicity from which they have benefited, albeit as ethnic diversity. But how can the commission for cohesion, which is a product of ethnic coalition and negative ethnicity, genuinely challenge negative ethnicity without committing political and economic suicide?

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