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March 18, 2018

Stop fake ethnic tensions between Kitui and Kiambu

Celebrated vernacular singer Ken wa Maria performing his hit song Fundamentals. /FILE
Celebrated vernacular singer Ken wa Maria performing his hit song Fundamentals. /FILE

Yesterday, governors Alfred Mutua of Machakos and Mutahi Kahiga of Nyeri held a conference at which they condemned utterances and actions that perpetuate negative ethnicity and inter-communal hatred (see P26).

They criticised the vigorous tribal campaigns being waged in both Kitui county and Kiambu county following the ban on the charcoal trade by the Kitui county assembly and the subsequent burning of a truck carrying the same two weeks ago.

The torching of the vehicle owned by a resident of Kiambu county has triggered tension between the Kikuyu and Kamba communities, which led to a blockade of the Nairobi-Nakuru highway last week. Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu has stoked the fires by taking Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu to court, accusing her of incitement and endangering lives, among other things. Matters that are well within the mandate of the Council of Governors.

In the meantime, a Kikuyu song entitled Ikamba that says immensely negative things about the Kamba as a community has gone viral on the Internet.

It is unusual for a commercial dispute to escalate into a popular music number that taunts and sneers at one side. Tensions will smoulder. The governors are right; the leaderships of Central and Eastern counties should move swiftly and decisively. There is more that law enforcement and the National Cohesion and Integration Commission can do to stop this hate speech from spiralling into a nasty ethnic feud. It is getting late.

Quote of the Day:

“The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr, US 59th Supreme Court justice (1902-32), was born on March 8, 1841.


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