Why Kenya Should End Politics of Ethnicity

By Jane Muia / Published June 29, 2022 | 2:59 pm




KEY POINTS

The country should address economic equality for all regardless of tribal affiliations as a step ahead to fighting this enemy Kenya has lived with for many years. Let us end complaining about bad leaders yet we are the ones who elect them. Let us not suffer from our inventions. It’s time to turn the page.


Politics of ethnicity

KEY TAKEAWAYS


Tribalism in Kenya has been a great enemy from democracy to socio-economic development. In every sector of development, tribalism has been rampant and the effects are devastating. It has led to corruption as well as promoting other ills such as civil wars and violence amongst different tribesmen.


Over the years Kenyan politics have been characterized by ethnic tension since independence in 1963. Politicians have been taking advantage of ethnicity in elections, especially between the larger ethnic groups in Kenya- the Kikuyus, Luos, and Kalenjins. This has further led to tribal clashes among Kenyan communities.

The biggest tribal clash was witnessed in 2007 after the former president Mwai Kibaki won the elections held on December 27, 2007. Kibaki’s main opponent Raila Odinga encouraged his supporters to protest over electoral manipulation. Police shot hundreds of violent demonstrators causing more violence. The protest targeted Kibaki’s ethnic group- the Kikuyu community living outside their traditional settlement areas, especially in the rift valley region.

The 2017 elections were also marred with a lot of killings after the opposition leader Raila Odinga claimed to reject the August 9 elections results which announced the incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta, as the winner. Several people died and others were injured in the western city of Kisumu where they clashed with the police.

Ever since ethnicity has been a key factor considered in electing Kenyan leaders. Leaders have been calling people from their tribes to vote for them during elections. The same has been applied when leaders are seeking positions in the government. Since independence, Kenya has been governed by four presidents from two ethnic communities- Kalenjin and Kikuyu despite the country being a home of 42 tribes.

It is true to say that in Kenya, the five largest tribes- Kikuyu, Luhya, Kalenjin, Luo, and the Kamba have been the key determinants of the country’s president over the years.

As the country prepares for the next general elections that will kick off in August, Tribalism has prevailed especially among the two top presidential aspirants, Deputy President William Ruto and the Azimio la Umoja one Kenya coalition flag bearer Raila Odinga.  The two are clashing against each other stoking old tribal rivalries.

Why There is a Need for a Change

Ethnicity in Kenya has been a great enemy from democracy to socio-economic development. In every sector of development, tribalism has been rampant and the effects are devastating. It has led to corruption as well as promoting other ills such as civil wars and violence amongst different tribesmen.

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In Kenya, every general election is always accompanied by allegations of electoral manipulation and dishonesty. This has made many Kenyan citizens unable to exercise their democratic right to a free and fair election.

In the employment sector, ethnic allegiance has been the key determinant of whether to get or lose a job. Many company officials employ their tribesmen regardless of their low qualifications. This has led to low work output due to a lack of efficient work ethics. Those that are qualified lose are turned down simply because of their cultural background.

The governance of the country has not been spared either. Leaders have been misusing their powers and exploiting government resources for their gain. Citizens have been blind about it and therefore, end up suffering as a whole due to a lack of resources. This has seen the cost-of-living surge further with the most pain felt by the common Mwananchi. The high cost of living during election years in Kenya is no longer a tale. Its devastating effects have slowed down developments in most parts of the country.

Elections are a democratic right and are something that people should be happy about. However, this has been the opposite in Kenya. Whenever elections are nearing people become afraid of violence. This tension forces many to go back to rural areas to be with their tribesmen. Some people also halt businesses because of fears. Many people die and others are displaced due to political clashes.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC)has a crucial role in mitigating political violence by conducting free and fair elections. In the short term, the institutions mandated to ensure peaceful electioneering must actively discourage violence.

Attempts to end the politics of ethnicity in Kenya have not been easy. Commissions have been formed, bloodshed, and, songs composed but nothing has ever changed. The behavior on the ballot remains.

It’s time for Kenyans to stand out and fight this enemy in the august polls which are just around the corner. This can only be achieved by electing a candidate who is going to shed light on the government without considering ethnic backgrounds.

The country should address economic equality for all regardless of tribal affiliations as a step ahead to fighting this enemy Kenya has lived with for many years. Let us end complaining about bad leaders yet we are the ones who elect them. Let us not suffer from our inventions. It’s time to turn the page.






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