When Will We Begin Looking Beyond our Tribes?

Say No to tribalism. Photo Courtesy of The Star.

I was passing through some place here in Nairobi when I found a team of workers loading a vehicle. Something caught my attention. I overheard some of them remarking about one of their colleagues that, “Let him help his fellow Luo man in loading that vehicle.” I looked at these duo and went my way mourning silently.

As I walked along this dusty road and my frail body pressed its weight on my Shoe-barus, I looked grimly at the horizons and wondered when we could reach a point where we see people beyond the tribal lines as well as nepotistic sidelines.

When Martin Luther king Jr. gave his signature address before his assassination, he made a statement that sparked through my mind as I contemplated what I had heard on this specific day. In his famous 1963 speech titled, “I have a dream,” King dreamt of a time when his black children could sit with their white counterparts as brothers and sisters.

A country that was founded on freedom of conscious and religious liberty was a stack contrast of what George Washington set as the principal values of this great nation. Men and women trampled upon them (Negroes) with the seriousness they could. It called for a civil rights movement to bring this to order.

Fast forward and in the dream of King Junior, Barack Obama became a president of America. In a Nelson Mandela lecture in which Obama was the Guest speaker, Patrice Motsepe remarked in a short welcome remarks that he cried when Barack was being sworn into the presidency. Looking beyond the horizons.

And back to my story, I too dreamed of a time when we could have matured to a level we will begin to look beyond our tribes. That we align ourselves on the basis of tribal lines to elect incompetent leaders even when we know that too well is very sad. We rather judge people based on the content o of their character rather than the tribe they come from.

Just a few days ago I was speaking to a client I had taken a delivery to and they asked me if I came from central Kenya. I said no and I could note a shocker on their face that I wasn’t what they expected me to be. All the way back to town, I kept wondering what is it that drives us to forget that we are a liberated lot already.

Why should I say so? Because our principles should be the basis upon which we are weighed to determine our competencies and suitability. For example, if I walk into an office for an interview, I should be weighed upon the scale of competency, experience and suitability rather than where I come from and who I know.

At the intersection of these aspects is my qualifications as well as my integrity and values. It should be a scenario where we look at each other as Kenyan first before we can begin to look at ourselves as Luo or Gikuyu. And such a feeble thinking based on tribalism has taken over the development agenda of our country. Corruption is no longer a common enemy.

You could be conversant with the talk where individuals in high graft cases come out with their entourage to say that their tribes are targeted. It is a time where the interests of the tribe override the interests of the country. It doesn’t matter what the majority of the people are going through.

I overhear a lot of reckless talks about common enemies that some tribes have to fight. I often get interested when I hear of such a talk and look forward to hearing of such enemies as graft, disease, poverty and low literacy levels. Surprisingly, you hear the enemy being spoken of is another tribe which the other tribes feel poses a great danger to them.

Our unity in diversity should be the driving force beyond which we should be basing our arguments on instead of remarking how a friend from another tribe should help another friend from that tribe only. If we are to develop massively and beyond our current levels, then tribalism has to be a thing of the past. Solving the problem of tribalism can help solve other very pertinent issues.

Inclusivity is the one problem to solve. Equitable representation in other words. Here, we will not look at other tribes and have the feeling that they are favored and hence enjoy certain privileges than others. We will move beyond the me and we language and extend to us. Tribalism should be at its bare minimum if we are to proudly say that we are democratic and liberalized.

The idea of tribalism is a very dangerous ideology as opposed to principle. Ideology is the thinking that when we are of the same tribe, we should simply hold that supreme above everything else. On principle it is that if we are from the same tribe, it’s great and lovely but that should come in after other important and critical aspects.

So if we are to leapfrog in our development as a county, we have to first agree that tribalism which often breeds from nepotism should be a thing of past. We need to begin looking at things from the edge, on new frontiers and one which needs that we change our perspectives. Well change is hard to come by, but then the only thing that doesn’t change is change itself.

Let me wind up with a saying that is often used to warn people that unless they move out and taste other people’s foods, they will always think their mothers are the best cooks the world has. Let us break free from our tribal cocoons and appreciate that in our diversity, lies the secrets of enormous growth.


Copyright @ 2019.

Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege is the Editor and topical contributor for the Daily Focus. He writes in the areas of Science, Manufacturing, Technology, Innovation, Governance, Management and International Emerging Issues. For featuring, promotions or support, reach out to us at dailyfocus9@gmail.com
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x