Every community in Kenya is vulnerable.
By Silas N
A while ago, it was a recording that sounded like that of a North-Eastern politician warning the Kamba community to leave his county, fearing that they may elect his rival, who belonged to a party that is predominantly Kamba.
A notorious Central Kenya member of parliament has never disguised his disdain to members of a certain community. He has always held, by virtue of his circumcision, he is a better, superior, intelligent human being, even when his actions prove that he is the biggest arsehole, filthiest, dickiest human being alive. What a monumental prick!
And to think that he was handpicked, and received the highest blessing in the land, from people who turn to God to bless their ‘victory’.
Three or four years ago, while in the company of a dozen journalists, we found ourselves in Mucatha, Kiambu. We were doing a trip of Nairobi and its environs, on the government tab, and we were expected to go back and write about places, restaurants and activities that Nairobians can do over the weekends other than drinking and sleeping with each other.
Call it domestic tourism. The government rep who had picked us from various media houses was a Luo, assisted by a Kamba and a Maasai lady. All of them good people. He had picked journalists regardless of their ethnicity and we were a healthy mixture, professionally and in terms of ethnic composition.
I don’t remember how we ended up in Mucatha, late in the evening. It had rained, and stopped. And the sun had come back once again. It was that weak sunshine that in my mother tongue we call “the sunshine of monkeys”. Our team leader had alighted to go pick something from the shops. On coming back, we saw some confrontation. I don’t know what had provoked the man standing beside our Landcruiser to be agitated…
“We ni njaruo!” we turned around to see him, almost grabbing our team leader by the collar. It sent that frozen chill down our spine.
“Hapana, mimi ni Mluhya!” he let go off him. The man was the usually tall, muscular and menacing character that you find in any village market across Kenya, ready to lynch or kill, should a car run over someone, or you can bet you liver that he belongs to whichever vigilante group is existent in any village in the country.
Our team leader came to the Landcruiser, visibly shaken. I don’t remember what explanation he gave us, but it was a case of mistaken identity or something. But it was scary.
As we left the shopping centre, everyone in the car was embarrassed about the country we live in. You know that embarrassment, like when two men share a house, and one of them brings in, this innocent looking girl, but who screams the loudest during sex. And in the morning, you gather around the table for breakfast, assuming nothing happened. There is usually ‘aka-silence’, the girl unsure how to act normal, the boychild who did it, acting calm like he didn’t inflict the greatest discomfort you can inflict on any man…Yeah that type of embarrassing silence.
Maybe I have told you this before. In 2008, after the post-election violence, one of our classmates, died in a freaky accident in North Eastern while on an evangelical campaign, if I’m not wrong. He was from Siaya. We were out of session, but the few students who were in session, regardless of their ethnicity came together and we organized his funeral and we were given the university bus to go and bury him in Siaya.
Somewhere in between Kericho and Sosiot, in some small shopping center, our bus bumped into some car, and the villagers gathered around the bus, agitating and wanting to lynch the bus. The villagers especially wanted Kikuyus, and they were sure that a University of Nairobi bus would be carrying some. The Kikuyus with us, were scared shitless. We were all scared, and our pleas, fell on deaf ears, until one Kalenjin student, went out and pleaded with them. Until you are about to be lynched for belonging to a tribe you didn’t apply to be born to, you will have not experienced true horror.
The hate now is at fever pitch. Last week, Carol Radull (a Luo), asked people with a Blood Group O to donate to a lady (a Kikuyu) hospitalised at the Kikuyu Hospital and the kind of responses her Tweet evoked, especially from SOME Luo kinfolk were utterly disgusting, revolting, repugnant, distasteful, ugly. Imagine being in dire need of blood, and people trivializes your life with comments such as; “she can get the blood on the portal”, “I would donate for her, were it not for her last name”, “Let her die, that is one less vote for Uhuru”.
There are SOME Kikuyus too, who usually insult other communities, with Luos being a specific target and the insults border on extreme hatred. There was one on social media who said disparaging things about my community, when CJ Maraga made the ruling. Something to the point that we are useless sorcerers. Or worse.
Now, when a Member of Parliament from Central Kenya calls for expulsion of other communities that may not vote for them, it is scary. What if Kikuyus are expelled from places where they are minorities. Is that the country we want to have?
Remember Kikuyus, Kisiis and other communities have been expelled from Rift Valley in 1992, 1997 and 2007, because some warlords thought that their presence may deny them victory. It used to work.
I literally cried before this year’s election when people had to run away from Nairobi fearing for their lives. They were justified, because sure as hell, IEBC did bungle the elections, so bad, the whole commision should be disbanded and jailed for 69 years. Bungling an election is a recipe and the catalyst for violence.
The levels of intolerance are at an all-time high, we are on the precipice of a genocidal disaster.
George Stanton, the president of the Genocide Watch, presented a briefing paper to the United States Department of State called “The 8 Stages of Genocide”. You have probably seen it being thrown everywhere where people are likely to fight.
He said the eight stages are predictable, but not inevitable.
The paper was inspired by the Rwandan Genocide in which a short 100 days, one million people were killed.
The stages are:
1) Classification:in Kenya already, we have the “us” versus “them” bulllshit that has been going on for some time).
2.) Symbolization: Already certain communities have labels they use on each other. My community too is guilty. The labels are rather simple, sometimes innocent but scratch deeper and you will see their negativity and how it can build into stage three.
3. Dehumanization: One community denies the humanity of the other. I don’t need belabor the point. But the hate in the hearts of some Kenyans is so toxic, they will not donate blood to someone because of her last name, or on the basis of if they are circumcised or not. We are at a point where some people are not human enough and if they were to die in large numbers, the better. The sentiments are almost mutual.
4. Organization-At the moment, the organization is at the election levels, where we mobilize each other around tribe, in the hope defeating the opponent. The redeeming hope here is that if elections are clean, we have the resilience to resume the fights through the established systems. But having credible elections in Kenya has become an impossibility. And if things fail, we can deteriorate quickly and organize ourselves around vigilante and a butchering spree will ensure.
5. Polarization: We are polarized, there is no question about.
6. Preparation; read your tribal kingpin’s lips.
7. Extermination; 2007 gave a taste of what it feels like. There is no guarantee that we will never go back there, especially after ICC, proved to be inefficient.
8. Denial-Usually after the violence, there are those who deny that it happened.
Ladies and gentlemen, how do we get ourselves out of this mess?
1. IEBC has only one job: deliver credible elections as per the constitution.
Outside that, I don’t know of any redemptive measure. We can roast in our own hatred, and may be future generations will know better.
But don’t ever be fooled that a war is impossible and Kenya is intact, or that our police forces are so professional and our military one of the best in the world. Things can go South, if you look to Syria and Libya (I know circumstances are different. But who thought that Libya will be a bloody mess in our lifetime?)
Anyway, wacha nikule hii githeri kwanza.