• In Kenya, it seems, you require your academic papers, a godfather or godmother, be from the right dynasty or have your God to get a job.
• Merit and luck did not rank so high in getting job opportunities locally according to many on that discussion.
Every other day, you get very deep insights of the day-to-day happenings in Kenya through social media.
In one of the pages that I follow on one of the platforms, there was a long discussion about jobs at home versus jobs abroad.
After many people aired their successes and others their frustrations, what came out clearly was that in Kenya, you require your academic papers, a godfather or godmother, be from the right dynasty or have your God. Merit and luck did not rank so high in getting job opportunities locally according to many on that discussion.
The gentleman who started the conversation said after around 50 applications in Kenya, with absolutely no feedback, he decided to apply for opportunities overseas. He tried thrice, got a regret on the first, got called for an interview for the second but failed, and on his third attempt, got the dream job he was looking for. He left the country together with his family.
I can only imagine a private organisation, a non-governmental organization, a parastatal or ministry having a board meeting, or a staff meeting and more than half of those represented in the room are from one tribe, out of the 43 tribes in the country.
Most of those from the majority tribe in that organisation will likely share the same norms, values, perceptions, stereotypes and even behaviour. This is then replicated in the decision-making process in the organization. It will further have an impact on the brand the organisation displays to its publics. Sharing values and norms in itself does not produce social capital because the values may be the wrong ones.
Employment motivated by tribalistic and nepotist tendencies many at times end up producing the wrong crop of employees, who may display laxity, incompetence and a high sense of self better known as entitlement, making it very difficult to achieve the organisations goals and objectives.
More so, if someone got you the job on tribal lines, you wouldn’t want to air your honest opinion on a particular matter.
So, with friends giving friends jobs, and relatives preferring their kin for opportunities, there is minimal transfer of formal and informal values, which are the tenets of social capital.
There is little or no opportunity to learn from each other, unlike in a situation where people get to work with diverse workmates, who never knew each other in the first place, and are not from the same tribe.
The norms that produce social capital, by contrast, must substantively include virtues such as truth telling, meeting obligations, and reciprocity. These values would easily be carried out, if the talent an organisation has is diverse.
There is a huge pool of talent in this country. Many Kenyans, from our 43 different tribes, as well as foreigners who have registered to work here have done interesting, diverse courses in all levels, be it vocational, technical, or higher learning.
These Kenyans, hired by merit, would contribute greatly to the development of this country, and it would also go a long way in avoiding brain drain, which has been a long-standing issue in Kenya. It’s good to remember that Kenyans are highly recognised regionally and internationally for the high level and quality of education.
Shunning nepotism and tribalism and using social capital, as a concept, the government or private entities, will instil the right set of informal values or norms shared among members of a group that permits them to cooperate.
If members of the group come to expect that others will behave reliably and honestly, then they will come to trust one another. Trust acts like a lubricant that makes any group or organisation run more efficiently.
Vera is a part time lecturer and a communications researcher [email protected]