Tuesday, 3 November 2015

The Atavism of Hate Speech and Tribalism

As a law abiding citizen, I am skeptical about the future of this nation if the current happenings are to go by; the escalating levels of tribalism and/or negative ethnicity and the hate speech mongering. The direction taken by some of the ‘leaders’ in making these hegemonic acts of historical anachronism seem fashionable is worrying and if strong action is not going to be taken against them, then the plane is gonna crash any time soon; sad but true.

I look at some of these leaders and wonder if at all we have a problem with our constitution and the entire justice system. Indeed, there is a huge problem. If the law is being applied selectively so as to tame the common citizenry often referred to as Wanjiku and let the ‘big fish’ off the hook, then we have a systemic malaise. Is it that the law enforcement officers fear the political elite? Or is that the societal malady that we have fashioned and perfected that is corruption, is so deeply embedded in the system that the political elite can be able to acquire justice on hire purchase terms?

Utterances that highly qualify to be classified as hate speech seem to be the ideal remarks of some ‘leaders’. Recently, it seems as if members of the ruling coalition and the opposition are on a competition seeking some medals and trophies of who utters the deadliest remarks and may be even contending to be enlisted in the hate speech ‘Hall of Fame’. This is silly and stupid. I am referring to George Aladwa the Orange Democratic Movement Nairobi Branch chairman, Moses Kuria the legendary chief of controversies and Gatundu South Member of National Assembly, Johnston Muthama the manner-less Senator of Machakos County and William Kabogo the blue-eyed boy of Kiambu County and the Governor of the same county.

Recording of statements with the law enforcement agencies has been the norm. We are yet to see any of these public figures languishing in jail due to their irresponsible utterances. Such remarks may easily incite the masses and instigate political clashes which is a situation we shouldn’t plunge into as a state. We were there in 2007/08 after the disputed elections and we know as the common folk what it means to live in a society devoid of peace, stability and tranquility. We should learn and draw lessons from the past as well as invoke some wisdom from Karl Marx when he said, “History repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”  

The guarantee of avoiding possible chaos lies with the wananchi. If at all we are going to engage in physical confrontations just because of some sociopathic remarks of some political demagogues then we are the ones to lose. When we shall be engaging in the confrontations, the power holders will be on holiday in a magical and fanciful isle somewhere with their families. 

I also wish to castigate the leaders of the two major coalitions, President Uhuru Kenyatta and Hon. Raila Odinga, for not harshly criticizing such foot soldiers of their political brigades. Does it mean that they are condoning such non-sense? If the two do not come out clean on the issue, then we’ll assume that the bigots act on their orders and that they are not true patriots. Please, Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Odinga do not let such political ‘leaders’ who cherish and relish the ideals and ideologies of backslapping hold the future of this country at ransom. Denounce them and reprimand them all together to avert this time bomb.

The Judiciary and the National Police Service have their work clearly cut out. Why don’t they use one of these hate mongering hawks as an example to the rest? The laws need to applied fully and to the latter irrespective of one’s status. But I doubt if this will happen any time soon because these two organs out rightly bear the woeful stink of corruption as they have perfected the art and act of selective administration of justice. This depicts Kenya as the quintessential ‘Animal Farm’ where some people are more equal than others. Food for thought.

The vice of tribalism, on the other hand, is more real than imagined. This is a problem that has bedeviled our country since we attained our independence. We view each other through the lens of ethnic realm. Worst of all, this vice is propagated mainly by the elites, the political class and the educated individuals. Look at the political parties in Kenya and how they are firmly anchored on the tribal grounds and roots. Make the observations of college students especially during their annual electioneering period and you’ll realize how negative ethnicity is prevalent in Kenya.

I have recently come to the conclusion that most of the Kenyans have politically polluted and warped minds. Why? Because most of the people tend to cushion their leaders when they do wrong things as they feel their tribe is being targeted. You know this “mtu wetu” syndrome. This is a situation of despair. We get a lot of satisfaction by demonizing individuals simply because they belong to a particular ethnic group. Nobody chooses to belong to any ethnic community. Some even go to an extent that they cannot marry from certain tribes. This is being simplistic and myopic. One funny thing that happens in Kenya is that if you happen to marry a foreigner, you will be a hero but dare you get or even imagine to have a sexual partner from a given tribe and see the way you’ll be vilified. 

This negative perception about members of various ethnic communities doesn’t belong in the 21st century. However, it is REAL and I don’t know which kind of salvation and redemption we need to undergo for us as Kenyans to embrace our ethnic diversity. Can we for once learn from our Tanzanian neighbors? The motherland of the great Mwalimu Julius Nyerere has over 100 ethnic communities and you’ll never witness these hopeless ethnic divisions and animosity.

The future of Kenya solely lies with the Kenyans. Each time of the day and each day of the week we must devote our energies in ensuring that we impact some form of change in the Kenyan society. The change we want and the change we yearn for, dream and think about starts with YOU and ME. I am glad I’m playing my part as a change agent. What about you? Let’s take the challenge and preach about the dangers of negative ethnicity for us to have in place the true spirit of nationhood that defines Kenya. Shall we?

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