In Summary
  • I believe the President should also have convened a ‘Sagana’ to help quell the weekly protests by the coastal residents over the declining local economy.
  • We must stop being inward-looking — as Sagana summits exemplify. The Kenyan nation can only be built by looking outwards to all communities.

The gathering of leaders from Mt Kenya region at Sagana State Lodge recently might not have been the first but, I hope, for the sake of national unity, it will be the last.

There is nothing more ethnocentric than the President of the Republic being seen as kowtowing to one community in a country of nearly 50 million in an ethnically divided country.

It is understandable that Mt Kenya leaders should cry foul for having been neglected by the government — if, indeed, that is true.

And this, we learnt, was the reason for the hurriedly organised summit to address their woes. But now, the other communities will similarly come out crying of neglect.

Would the President have the time and energy to run around mollycoddling all the cry babies of this world?

The problem with the Head of State reacting in such a manner just to appease an ethnic community is the risk of opening a Pandora’s box, where time and efforts are spent to placate all the rest and even their clans and sub-clans, which will only lead to further division.

PATRIOTISM

On the face of it, tribal cocoons may seem harmless. But continuous conduct of leaders in a tribal way does not help to change the psyche of a country to think less of tribe and more of the nation.

The Tanzanian Foreign minister, Prof Palamagamba Kabudi, during his speech at the BBI report launch, gave fantastic examples of how Tanzanians consider themselves as Tanzanians first before their tribe.

We even learnt that Tanzania has had Kikuyu, Maasai and Kipsigis in its governance structure.

Tribal talk in Kenya is not confined to the country’s borders. When a Kenyan meets another abroad, the second question they would always ask is, “Where are you from?”, meaning, “Which is your tribe?”

From there, some of them would choose where to place you.

And it is mostly in two boxes: tribe and political party. The information is very crucial, too, in deciding whether you are worthy an invite to a nyama choma party!

ECONOMIC DISCRIMINATION

I’m not suggesting that we can’t get together to discuss issues that affect our communities. Tribe is the monster we can’t avoid but can learn to live with.

But if the issues at hand are of national importance, our leaders ought to separate tribe from nation.

For me, what makes Sagana more of a tribal congregation than a national one is the fact that the participants were drawn largely from one region and mostly from one community.

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