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January 16, 2019

Kaparo’s right, tribalism is our national malaise

National Cohesion and Integration Commission Chairman Francis Ole Kaparo. /FILE
National Cohesion and Integration Commission Chairman Francis Ole Kaparo. /FILE

The outgoing chairman of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission says he regrets that he failed to end tribalism in Kenya. That’s a rare and honest admission from a public officer and Francis Kaparo must be commended.

Kaparo has been around long enough and served in different administrations to speak with some authority.

He says Kenya has lost two great opportunities for nationhood or national unity: at Independence in 1963 and in the popular 2002 Narc ‘revolution’ that removed Kanu from power.

Kaparo fears that a third opportunity, wrought by the handshake between Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta, is about to be squandered again.

We agree. The nine–point communique signed by Uhuru and Raila on March 9 outlined the main challenges facing the nation. Tribalism, spurred by political patronage, is right at the top of our national malaise. It is reflected in the lack of inclusivity — or disproportionate representation — in government, unequal distribution of opportunities and ethnically driven prejudices in all spheres of life. It peaks with political contests.

Yet tribalism is not a factor of public office only. In private and social circles, ethnic profiling is manifest in many gatherings. It includes patronage of entertainment and hospitality facilities, especially among the older generation.

The handshake can be the opportunity to deal with such divisive and ethnically sensitive issues as corruption and set future generations free from tribal captivity.


Quote of the Day: “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”

Mahatma Gandhi

The pacifist and spiritual leader was released from jail on August 23, 1933, following another hunger strike.

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