TRIBAL BIGOTRY

Ethnic profiling ends in misery

We should be a country that encourages meritocracy, substance in appointment to public office

In Summary
  • There is nothing wrong with belonging to a certain tribe.
  • What is wrong is for us to carry the notion that we are superior to others, whether we control political or economic power

Once upon a time a Wolf resolved to disguise his appearance in order to secure food more easily. Encased in the skin of a sheep, he pastured with the flock deceiving the shepherd by his costume.

In the evening he was shut up by the shepherd in the fold; the gate was closed, and the entrance made thoroughly secure. But the shepherd, returning to the fold during the night to obtain meat for the next day, mistakenly caught up the Wolf instead of a sheep, and killed him instantly.

Of late, there seems to be a deliberate effort and propaganda against a certain community in Kenya. These discussions alway seem to sprout especially after appointments, with the target being the community.

This was evident last week after the election of Kipipiri MP Amos Kimunya as the National Assembly Majority leader, with days of bashing and profiling the Kikuyu community.  It is wrong to look at the ethnicity of someone when they are appointed to a position instead of looking at their ability and capability.

And we are not trying to say that it is only the Kikuyu community that gets targeted all the time. We have had instances of ethnic slurs against other communities for years in Kenya, which is something that needs to stop.

For instance, at every election, we find the Luo being profiled over issues relating to electoral violence. Senior politicians have been on record saying Luos will cause violence even before elections happen.

But we all have Luo neighbours who are peace-loving individuals yet we allow electoral competition to make us view them in a different light. What are we trying to teach out children when we make such slurs against our own neighbours?

I did not choose the tribe, family, or country that I was born into. Therefore using stereotypes and profiling me because of something I had no control over is wrong.

When former Treasury CS Henry Rotich and Kenya Power MD Ken Tarus were charged with alleged corruption, the Kalenjin were branded thieves. Bear in mind that they were charged for alleged graft alongside persons of other communities.

And, unfortunately, we find that most leaders are always silent about this, even when it seems like the profiling is becoming louder and louder. It is also unfortunate that the NCIC never takes actions against such individuals, even when the record is available.

I did not choose the tribe, family, or country that I was born into. Therefore using stereotypes and profiling me because of something I had no control over is wrong.

In Rwanda, the genocide was fanned by profiling. The bad blood between the majority Hutu and the minority Tutsi led to the genocide that left more than 800,000 people dead.

Ethnic profiling played a major role in the 2007-08 post-election violence that claimed more than 1,500 lives and left hundreds of thousands more displaced from their homes.

This is what happens when one tribe decides to retaliate, or attack another tribe, believing the people creating narratives and spewing hate. For a country that is not fully healed from the scars of the 1990s as well as the 2007-08 PEV, we cannot afford to encourage ethnic slurs in any form.

We should be a country that encourages meritocracy and substance in appointment to public office.

Kenya is blessed with diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds that have been used to divide us politically. Tribe has become more of a liability than an asset for us as a people, even when we shun it for common interests.

There is nothing wrong with belonging to a certain tribe. What is wrong is for us to carry the notion that we are superior to others, whether we control political or economic power.

We will never change our tribes but we can change how we use our tribal affiliation as Kenyans. We have a bigger tribe called Kenya in us that we can use to unite each and every part of this country.