• To accept having a tribal kingpin imposed on your tribe, someone who will direct your political choices, is to give up your agency of decision making, self-autonomy and empowerment.
• It is to wilfully accept to be commodified and sold to the highest bidder.
According to Zen philosophy, monks are celibate and physical contact with women is strictly avoided.
One day, two monks were walking along when they came to a woman in distress at the banks of a river.
The woman needed to cross the river, but it was very deep and wide, and she did not know how to swim.
When she saw the monks, she asked for their help. The first monk picked the woman up, carried her across the river and set her down safely on the opposite shore. The other monk followed closely behind. The two monks continued their journey in silence.
After a long while, the second monk asked his colleague, “You know that contact with women is forbidden yet you picked that woman up and helped her cross the river?”
The first monk replied, “Are you still carrying her? I put her down hours ago.”
After enjoying a couple of years of relatively peaceful coexistence following the 2007-08 post-election violence, our tribal monks occupying spaces of political influence and brokers have broken their omertà or code of silence and began stoking tribal belligerence between communities.
They are persuading us to, once again, pick up our tribal identities that we put down a couple of years ago when we opted to remove our tribal lenses and put on neighbourly ones.
In economic-speak, this is called economic cooperation. It is when two or more different entities decide to voluntarily work and co-exist to develop economically and socially through peaceful and voluntary exchange of goods and services using a common medium of exchange. The tenets of cooperation are trust, understanding, respect, logic and shared goals.
However, our tribal monks are determined to gaslight us with the intention of inverting these tenets.
They are doing so by arrogating to themselves the roles of decipherer of words and to purportedly demystify what they claim are code words for tribal incitement to cause inter-ethnic conflict.
Other self-imposed seers for the tribes have attempted to define the economic systems by which tribes can be traded with. They have brazenly stated that some tribes can only be rented not bought.
Each electoral cycle, charlatans in the name of tribal kingpins and power brokers caucus to purportedly decide on behalf of the tribe the political leader the tribe should support en masse.
They cajole us into believing the benefits we will reap as a tribe by supporting one political leader against another.
In the process, to ensure they have us firmly convinced us lock, stock and barrel on their respective political preference, they portray the other tribe as predators of our tribe.
And as would be expected, as an instinct of survival, we recoil back into our tribal cocoons to protect ourselves from the depicted existential threat.
The realisation only comes too late that the zealously flaunted benefits are as elusive as the proverbial pot of gold at the bottom of the rainbow.
Begs the question, isn't it probable that last night, several Kikuyu children slept hungry?
Or that there are Luhya mothers who yesterday did not get life-saving drugs in the public health facility?
Or that there are several Kalenjin elderly women who contracted Covid-19, yet billions have been stolen at Kemsa?
Or that there are Somali children who died of preventable diarrhoea?
Or that there are Maasai men whose homes were swept away by floods and mudslides? Or even that Luo youths went back home empty-handed after toiling all day but still failed to secure a dignified sustainable livelihood?
All these amidst scheming for 2022.
Where are the promised benefits to the tribe? Are these needless misfortunes collectively borne by the tribe, or by you as an individual? Need I say more?
I submit that to accept to have a tribal kingpin imposed on your tribe, someone who will direct your political choices, is to give up your agency of decision-making, autonomy and empowerment. It is to wilfully accept to be commodified and sold to the highest bidder.
Once sold, you become a slave to the master. He owns you. You no longer have freedom of choice.
He appropriates you and your labour in the voting plantation and audaciously transfers you to the next highest bidder in the next electoral cycle. And what’s worse, because you are his property, he does not require your consent to do so.
And if you think this is mere hyperbole, allow me to remind you that historically, slave trading produced an ancillary institution called slave renting or slave hiring. As slaves were being distributed, some slavemasters did not wish to fully own slaves. They only wanted them for short-term labour. So they rented slaves, especially during harvest season or to clear land for cultivation.
Other slave owners rented out their slaves when their plantations did not demand intensive labour. They gained economically from renting.
Does this resonate with our voting plantations, where tribes are rented out during electoral cycles by the self-imposed tribal kingpins, for economic gain in exchange for votes? You be the judge.
My fellow Kenyan, like the first monk, will you do the right thing or do things right? Will you violate the tribal norm and gain control of your agency? Will you choose self-autonomy as opposed to tribal slavery?
Finally, my unsolicited advice is to self: waiting for the day President Kenyatta will call to tell me that he has sent me M-Pesa for the mere reason that we are both Kikuyu is like peeing in the ocean and watching to see if the water levels are rising.
Meanwhile, let me send Otieno, who's in the same WhatsApp group, some M-Pesa to replace his goat that was swept by the mudslides, as he helplessly watched. Once you know something, you cannot unknow it.
The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself - Friedrich Nietzsche