MUST WE LOOK AT EVERYTHING THROUGH TRIBAL LENSES?

Mungai's Bed - Capital FM
Presidential Delivery Unit (PDU) head, Andrew Wakahiu, who led a team of government officials to the workshop in Githunguri, kiambu County on July 15, 2020. Photo courtesy of Capital News/PDU

 

President Kenyatta directed government to buy 500 hospital beds from two young innovators in Kiambu and this has caused a serious storm  on social media. The beds are meant to boost admission capacity in public hospitals, which are currently under pressure from Covid-19-related cases.

The main reason for the uproar is that the two young innovators, who rely on locally assembled material to make the standard locally manufactured hospital beds are Kikuyus. Mungai Gathogo, 26 and Joseph Muhinja, 35 are based in Githunguri, Kiambu county – the president’s home county.

The uproar that ensued on social media is enough proof that politicians will always have us where they would like us to be. Why do we make it too easy for the political class and their sidekicks to pack us in tribal bags, like potatoes awaiting transportation to the market?

Now, the main bone of contention in the online uproar is; why did the government have to buy from Mungai and Muhinja of Kiambu, not Meshack Otieno based in Juja? Suddenly, Otieno represents an entire Luo community, while Mungai and Muhinja represent the whole Kikuyu community! What is the endgame of stirring such emotional tribal sentiments?

As much as there might be legitimate concerns of bias in the way the tender was given, all the pertinent issues raised have certainly drowned in the tribal hullabaloo and shenanigans peddled online. Worse still, people with vested interests have hijacked the conversation and cleverly turned it into a Kikuyu vs Luo tribal supremacy contest.

Of course such distortions hope to achieve specific political ends. Just look at the way the conversation has swiftly degenerated to a point where we already have a Luo bed vs a kikuyu bed depiction circulating online.

Clearly, there are people who will never want to see the Luo and Kikuyu working together, since this works against their political ambitions. They will jump at every opportunity to drive a wedge between the two, and we are witnessing many such moves online currently.

At what point did this beds become Luo and Kikuyu respectively? Is this conversation supposed to be a supremacy war between Kikuyus and Luos or a call for equality and equity?

Kikuyu - Luo
A depiction of a Luo bed vs a kikuyu bed circulating online. photo/Facebook

It is such small acts of tribal stereotyping that make us a deeply tribal country, which is a million miles away from becoming a true nation state; a nation whose citizens’ aspirations can finally merge and gel seamlessly into one respectable polity.

We cannot keep on looking at everything in terms of petty tribal sentiments and expect our country to develop into a nation that commands respect in the committee of global states.

All this does, at the end of the day, is sow the ugly “Us vs Them” animosity seed that helps nobody, save for the politician who aspires to be a tribal chief. the faster we realize this the better for us.

What this then means is that we shall always be led by tribal chiefs, who are more than happy to keep us packed in our tribal enclaves and fiefdoms, so that they can auction us like Mogotio goats at the national high table.

The big question they normally ask each other, at the much talked about high table, when forming political coalitions, is: what do you bring to the table? Don’t mistake the “what” in the question to mean superior leadership acumen or even intellectual wherewithal.

It sadly refers to the number of tribal sheep and idiots behind a given tribal chief. And this is what determines the position the respective tribal chiefs will secure and play in the line-up of the so called “nationalal politic big-wigs”.

The territorial chief who has more tribal idiots behind him or her calls the shots. When are we planning to shed off the tribal scales that blind our eyes, so much that even the most learned in our midst suddenly become acerbic tribal bigots, whenever the spirits of tribe are invoked?

In this case, I refuse to be a tribal idiot, who blindly fans the raw Kikuyu vs Luo sentiments online. All I see are two Kenyan entrepreneurs trying their best to sell their wares.

If one was luckier, the other one should know that their day is coming. The assumption that their last names determined who got the tender is hackneyed balderdash walking on high heels. The tribal balkanization that comes with such sentiments stinks to high heavens.

Not that I am totally blind to the fact that some people have, for a long time, benefited – and unfairly so – more than others, due to having their tribesmen in power.

But, truth be told, this is a very small clique of capital owners, compared to the poor masses, who always receive crumbs and bones, normally thrown their way for publicity and PR purposes.

The juiciest parts of the national meat and cake are shared amongst the top dogs from across the political divide.

If you want to know that this is true, look at the sheer numbers of poor people from central Kenya, in spite of the region having produced three out of the four presidents, who have ruled Kenya since independence!

Just look at the starving masses of Baringo. Can you tell that they had their own son (Moi) being a powerful Kenyan president for about a quarter a century? Do they now lead better lives than the rest of us. Why do their children study under trees in the 21st century? why are they still ravaged by floods, hunger and cattle rustling?

Considering such facts, you begin to appreciate the reality that having your tribesman leading this country can never change your situation, unless you decide to roll up your sleeves, as a people, and work harder than you are doing now.

The perception that having one of your tribesmen at the top gives you proximity to power, and hence a privilege to enjoy freebies, is utter hogwash. You must refuse to be boxed into primitive tribal cocoons and reject leaders who promote this stone-age behaviour. Just wake up from your deep slumber and get to work. Now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOURCES 

Kabale, N. (2020). Two artisans get order to supply State with 500 hospital beds. Retrieved 17 July 2020, from https://www.nation.co.ke/kenya/news/two-artisans-to-supply-state-with-500-beds-1808070

 

President Kenyatta directs govt to buy 500 hospital beds from youth innovators in Kiambu » Capital News. (2020). Retrieved 17 July 2020, from https://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/2020/07/president-kenyatta-directs-govt-to-buy-500-hospital-beds-from-youth-innovators-in-kiambu/

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