By S O
There is something they are now calling ‘Mulembe/Luhya consciousness’. It’s earlier variation is ‘Luhya unity’.
What is ‘Mulembe/Luhya consciousness’ to a Luhya family who can’t put food on the table…or a luhya graduate in Nairobi in searching for a job in an Indian firm, or a luhya woman married to a Digo in Kilifi, or the bulky Luhya comedian in SK Macharia’s Citizen TV or the Luhya soccer player in Gor Mahia FC or the Luhya girl who will this afternoon be laid by an energetic Kisii man?
On what pedestal is ‘Mulembe consciousness’?
It amazes me that in this second decade of the 21st century you find some Luhya politicians and quasi-intellectuals using ‘ethnic nationalism’ as the subtext of their political rhetoric.
If there is one thing the 2007/08 post-election violence taught us, it is that ‘ethnic nationalism’ is not working in Kenya.
One particular ethnic group that had for long perfected exclusion based on ethnicity using the same dubious nationalistic narratives soon realized they were the sorry occupants of IDP camps. Some are still in Uganda.
See, ethnic nationalism proceeds from the fallacy of superiority. To give it potency, it is laced in cultural artifacts and, or, historical revisionism. As we are seeing with the Luhya politicians and quasi-intellectuals pushing this ‘Mulembe consciousness’ to mainstream discourses, being conscious of your ethnic identity is now the panacea for the challenges facing your ethnic group, notwithstanding the fact that even within ethnic groups there are marked differences in socio-economic situations of people.
It also conveniently hides hard facts and self-evident truths, one being that only your ethnic group is suffering certain ills.
Put simply, what are these problems unique only to the Luhya community that only this medicinal concoction called ‘Mulembe consciousness’ can cure? Could it be Joblessness? Poor healthcare? Diminishing purchasing power? Bad roads? Disempowering schools? Punitive taxation?
Does Mulembe consciousness mean the same thing to the Luhya family living in a grass thatched house as it does to the family of the young Luhya politician building an 8-bedroomed house in Karen, Nairobi?
Does this Mulembe consciousness mean the same thing to the Luhya lovebirds who end up in Muliro Gardens to make love as it does to the young Luhya politician who airlifts sassy wife to Taj Mahal in India for the same human endeavor (and some #tbt photos to scare away basic bitches)?
Did this ‘Mulembe consciousness’ mean the same thing to a luhya teacher picketing to have better wages last year as it did to the Luhya politician who left the country that very day to New York on government payroll?
Who between the Luhya ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ benefit from this ‘Luhya consciousness’? Who between the Luhya ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ should act in accordance with the new requirements of being conscious ‘as a luhya’?
The most ironical aspect of this ‘Mulembe consciousness’ is that of a young Western educated politician dog whistling ‘sisi kama waluhya’ yet his office girl is Kisii, his squeeze is Meru, his moneybags are kikuyus, his manners are European and his spoken word places him deep in Tennessee, North America.
This to me is the oxymoron of this new Mulembeism.
They preach ‘Mulembe consciousness’ in Busia on Monday, take a chopper (donated to them by a scheming kalenjin politician) to Nairobi on Tuesday and on Wednesday they are there at state house, huddled in a small committee room, assuring a kikuyu, not a luhya, of their ‘full support’ in 2017. They even dissolve political outfits with Luhya flavor to join others with mountainous odour.
Friends, these are no ordinary times….