Obsession with “tribe”, and not Gema or Kamatusa is what ails Kenya


Uhuru, Ruto and their allies are out to show their opponents that the two politicians can, individually and collectively, marshal millions of Kenyans behind them.

I have always wanted to write of how I see the future of my children in Kenya being “unsecure”. But in the simple fear of being branded a “tribalist”, I have shied away from the subject. But recent events have made me question further whether I am “tribal” by expressing my fear that my children will be “demonised” by “Kenyans” for being born to this “tribe” that I never applied to belong to.

My fear that my future children will have a hard time being “Kenyans” is drawn from recent happenings in the country – in the name of equality. Since the enactment of a new Constitution, my “tribe” has been under scrutiny and even discriminated against as appointments are made. The reason is that my “tribe” occupies “too many” positions in this country including being populous – probably by design. On the flipside, probably those from my “tribe” were best qualified and suited for the jobs – you can’t blame them for that.

Recently, the “Gema nation” – an organisation that existed even before I was born – met and made declarations that have led to the demonization of those belonging to the “tribes” that make up this organisation – whether they agree, partly agree or disagree with the declarations made. I can bet that there are those from the “tribes” making up Kamatusa that are feeling the same kind of heat.

As a law-abiding citizen, I strive to uphold the Constitution and in particular Article 36 which guarantees the freedom of all to “form, join or participate in the activities of an association of any kind.” This right can only be limited within a subsidiary law – none of which I know exists.

But the above does not necessarily mean that I subscribe to an association that I could be linked to just because of my “tribe”. For instance, I know that the collection of signatures cannot halt the ICC process and you don’t need to be a political scientist and see the motivation as explained below. And while respecting the rights of any individual to participate in Kenyan politics, I do believe Uhuru and Ruto are not the only electable individuals.

As so many people speak against Gema and Kamatusa for meeting, to me this is not the problem. The problem, I believe, is the obsession with tribe and all the other words that we can derive from it – tribal, tribalism, tribalist.

Gema and Kamatusa meetings recently were political and though they do not represent the views of each and every voter that they purport to represent, they are an expression of those association – also protected by the Constitution. Gema and Kamatusa to me are just like NCCK or the LSK. They will come out, speak on anything and give a “common” stand and not necessarily because they have consulted any of their members.

Going back to the major declarations of the two meeting, it is simple to see that the five million signatures that are being collected by Gema and Kamatusa have nothing to do with ICC or the communities they purport to represent. During the two meetings, Uhuru and Ruto were endorsed as political leaders of their respective groupings.

The two groups are now out to collect five million signatures “to convince the ICC or the UN security council” to delay the trial against the two politicians until after the next election. The move is a clear indication that the two intend to run for the presidency regardless of the ICC pending trials.

The ICC has already indicated that it is legal arguments and not political mobilization that can convince the court to delay the commencement of trial. ICC spokesman, while n the country last month, said that the signatures will be inconsequential to the ICC process.

This has thus thrown the mobilization of the signatures into perspective. Having been made at meetings where Uhuru and Ruto were declared political leaders of their communities, it should anyone’s logical reasoning that the collection of the five million signatures has everything to do with the next general elections.

Uhuru, Ruto and their allies are out to show their opponents that the two politicians can, individually and collectively, marshal millions of Kenyans behind them. The collection of signatures is aimed at showing that the two politicians have at least five millions voters who support them.

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7 thoughts on “Obsession with “tribe”, and not Gema or Kamatusa is what ails Kenya

  1. Very factual and insightful, Oliver. Allow me, however, to state that in my opinion the freedom to form or join associations or groups in this case Kamatusa and Gema should be looked at from a moral or ethical perspective and not a constitutional one because due to the prevailing ethnic relations in Kenya. Such associations only serve to further entrench tribalism and antagonize one tribe against the other. What would you say of other tribes that never formed similar groupings? They are the ones that feel like they’re paying too high a price for the ‘sins’ of the big tribes. They feel such associations technically alienate them in the pursuit for political power. However, I do not believe that that should be the case. There is urgent need to ‘de-ethinicize’ our nation by reconstructing our inter-ethnic relations to restore trust and a sense of oneness.

  2. This country can’t be helped. We need a tragedy for things to change. Post-election violence of 2007-08 did not teach us anything.
    So with 5 million signatures, UhuRuto will tell ICC “see, we have 5 million people supporting us, they know we are innocent” But ofcourse ICC will not budge. UhuRuto will go ahead and ignore summons, coz hey Bashir did the same, and he is still president.

  3. Thanks bro. U have said it, we the young generation of the said tribe are already feeling the heat and and we wonder why.. I think the more populous a group is, the more people they have in the workforce

  4. You’re right Oliver, you’ve brought in a perspective that hasn’t been focused on before. In so much as the GEMA and KAMATUSA declarations are ill-meant and they don’t have any basis in law, the underlying problem is, and has always been, the ethnocentric environment we’ve all helped to propagate.

    I think that the brouhaha is based on the fact that “our community” has failed to meet and come up with a similar declaration, but then again it is my opinion. Anyway, bottom-line is we’re a mediocrecountry.

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