Growing up in a country with over 43 tribes, speaking 68 unique languages, diversity is, with no doubt, a daily buffet in this side of the planet called Kenya. “You can never know where you are going, lest you know where you are coming from”, I can’t just forget the late Margaret Ogola words in her book, ‘THE RIVER AND THE SOURCE’. She was referring to our roots, that not only ground us and give us a sense of identity, but which also in one way or the other influence, virtually every aspect of our lives.
We play host to idiosyncratic cultures, that adds up to an already beautiful people we are. We always enjoy the wealth of our ethnicities in unity. We always appreciate that though we differ in some aspects of our social lives, we stand equal, defined by the bloodline of Jesus that’s thicker than that of our ethnic affiliations. Nevertheless, our minds are quickly turned by political figures and feckless boilerplates and beliefs from misleading cultures. Our ethnicities are over glorified, contriving a false sense of dominance over the other people.
From hateful rhetoric to endless ethnic profiling, courtesy of our political orators, we are quickly categorized not according to our beliefs and ideologies but pursuant to our second names (others first). Talk of the countless images painted on the different ethnic groups. You tell somebody your name, and all of a sudden they know everything about you. The blessing of not having a tribal name (not that am proud of that) and the luck of travelling to several parts of this nation has been a mind-boggling odyssey.
Go to any part of this wonderful nation and you will be met with friendly and welcoming people. During my younger years, visitors were highly anticipated such that they had special utensils and cutleries specifically allotted for their unpremeditated arrival; that’s how much we loved visitors, a norm that was embraced around Kenya. The visits often are characterized by long, endless conversation and exchange of ideas, to the disappointment of us young ones waiting to act upon food survivors left behind by charitable visitors (cold-blooded visitors never noticed our presence).
After unsuccessful scrutiny of accents, always pops up the most needless question, “wewe ni wa kabila gani?” or “wewe ni mmm?” Not to say that our roots should remain hidden, don’t get me wrong, but our true identity should not be portrayed by the language we speak, not even our names. It shouldn’t matter that there is no similarity in our lingual sounds and combination. None of us voluntarily chose or made an application to belong to certain ethnic groups.
Our humanity should be able to show up first, not our tribe, culture, tradition or dogma. Tribalism is slowly rendering us endangered species in Kenya. It dawned in Rwanda and by the time it set, over 800 thousand people lost their lives, while 2 million others were displaced; yes folks it was that ugly! .How i pray that we won’t get there. Negative ethnicity is mostly propagated by political elites from our various ethnicities. How we fall for their trickery and orders is beyond my understanding.
They always try to divide us based on our ethnic lines, when in fact they are firm friends; BFFs to be specific. They talk ill of their peers in public but call themselves bros behind the scenes. It’s time we drop and leave this culture behind us. The fallacious perceptions we hold about different tribes should be buried, not to be remembered.
This starts with us coming together, as “Umoja ni nguvu, Utengano ni udhaifu.” This is our only home on Earth, if we burn it we will not have a place to go. We have not, and will never attain freedom until the day our sovereignty is based on unity in diversity. My prayer is that, the lord of all creations, will bless this our land and nation, in a way that justice will be our shield and defender so that we may dwell in unity, peace and liberty and by His grace, plenty shall be found within our borders.