By Rev. Olusi David
KK (Kikuyu Kalenjin) tyranny of numbers is a hate dangerous tribal grouping ideology: Tribalism is when one group of people start to think people from another group are none equals, inferior and â€œwrong by defaultâ€. Itâ€™s the great-granddaddy of, ethnicity, nepotism, exclussionism, and tribal violence.
And the most dangerous kind of tribalism is completely invisible: it has nothing to do with someoneâ€™s â€œbirth tribeâ€ and everything to do with their affiliations: where they work, which sports team they support, which political party they belong, which region they come from, which language they speak, or which leaders they love. Letâ€™s be clear: tribalism makes you stupid.
For those who believe in the sovereignty of God, the creator, and the Bible, it is God Himself, in His wisdom, who gave us the ‘concept’ of tribes. He had twelve of them to represent Him on this earth. So, as far as I am concerned there is nothing wrong with the existence of tribes; but just like all other things created by God, man has the ‘ability’ to use it either for good or bad. Africa, for reasons known to only God, is ‘blessed’ with so many different tribal groups.
These have been the source of many conflicts in many parts of Kenya. It is a basic human tendency to fear what one does not understand or know. Sometimes, we even tend to dislike others just for the fact that they do not look or speak like us.
Tribes have turned against tribes over land, and other resources. Sadly, in certain instances such atrocities against one another stem from things as mundane and benign as jealousy, hate, envy and circumcision. In a country that boasts of many regions and tribes, the baton of state jobs and the presidency is being passed back and forth, sometimes forcibly, amongst the same regions and tribed.
The question that any person of goodwill should ask is this: where are the rest of the regions in this state jobs and presidential equation? Are they less intelligent than the rest of Kenyans? Are they less hard working? Are they less ambitious than others? Do they contribute less to nation building than the rest of Kenyans? If the answer to my questions are “NO”, as I know it is, then someone has to call the situation what it is a political glass ceiling for other regions forstaye jobs and the presidency.
The very uncool thing about being a fanboy (or fangirl) of a tribal project like the tyranny of tribal numbers is that youâ€™re openly declaring both a tribal affiliation and a willingness to reject the work of others just because they belong to a different tribe.
One of the challenges tearing Kenya apart includes the tendency of manipulating ethnic identities for private interest. Problems challenging Kenyan political life are numerous, and some of them are cultural in the sense that they are related to cherished practices inherited from indigenous cultures.
Example of this is the culture of “circumcision.” In the bible some of the pharisees wanted to use it as a reason to exclude others from salivation but through the council of Jerusalem it’s clear circumcision is not a condition for salivation. St. Paul is expounded, for Christians, circumcision is not about phyical mutilation or initiation but spiritual, and that’s baptism.
Tribalism, which has been alive since independence, has finally degenerated into ethno-political competition, discrimination, and violence. Ethnic demarcation and regionalism, as promoted by ethnic leaders, revolve around the practice of ethnic discrimination. The competition for political power and economic resources
has become intense in many ethnic communities.
Political leaders, encourage the emergence of an ethno-nationalism in order to mobilize supporters. In Kenya, ethnic groups engage themselves in a struggle for political power with other ethnic groups. In this battle, each ethnic group advocates its interests in different ways. Such phenomenon does not happen simply because of conservatism; rather, ethnic groups are also interest groups whose members share some common economic and political interests.
People do not kill one another merely because of the ethnic differences. They kill each other when these differences promote unhealthy competition. This approach takes the form of a conservative return to the grassroots of ethnic identities. It appeals to cultural symbols in order to construct a sense of allegiance, which makes it easier to mobilize people.
Sometimes they use cultural slogans to arouse emotions of the people in order to make them accept what they do not even understand. That is to say, interest groups competing for scarce economic resources tend to invoke traditional sentiments to reinforce their appeal.
The success of political leaders in winning popular backing depends upon the trust which they inspire, and ultimately on their ability to obtain material benefits for their faction, in the form of government jobs or loans, a school or clinic, a road or electric supply.
In this case “we are dealing with a kind of patronage politics, with economic resources used as a political tool to enable the leadership to buy support for their policies. Since political and bureaucratic leaders may also appeal to ethnic identities to fulfil their ambitions, the practice of politicizing ethnic identities becomes one cause among many causes of ethno-political violence.
By appealing to ethnic identities and loyalties political leaders urge people to keep allegiance to those who safeguard ethnic interests.
My faith as a Christian has been affected seriously, in the sense that I cannot realize that such evil could happen in a country where so many people are Christians and where there are so many Catholics! Over sixty five percent Kenyans are Christians, with such influence in education.
What have we been doing as Christians, priests, pastors? How can we preach the love of God, the compassion of God, in this situation? All these questions rise from an experience of the deep mystery of evil, evil that is so consistent and so strong that its power is prevailing. How is ethnic identity related to the conflict of loyalties and interests? How has the dynamics of ethnic identities fashioned the existing understanding of the common good and political life? Have Christian churches and other religions managed to stand above ethnocentrism and the tension it generates?
The writer Rev. Olusi David, a Kenyan Priest working in the Archdiocese of Rome, is an expert in situational ethics in matters of justice.