Archive for April, 2009


April 23, 2009


The following article is an expose of the oscillations that has characterized the tribal relations among some ethnic groups in Kenya since independence. It is note worthy that the now-we- are- friends -now -we -are- enemies situation sometimes degenerates into physical confrontations as was witnessed in the 2007 – 2008 post election violence. These conflicts do not arise from hatred among the individuals of different communities rather they arise from a kind of general sentiment that trickle down from political leaders in relation to their political power struggles.

At the end of the series, I am hoping to disabuse all  intelligent people (Kenyans or foreigners) of two all pervasive notions, viz.:

a) That tribalism (read hatred amongst people) is the root cause of conflicts, past or present in kenya.

b) That organizing peace meetings between communities will bring long-lasting peace, as some NGOs and Ranneberger are doing. There are a few things I hate more than confusing activity with achievement!

Tribalism is one of the top five most used words in the Kenya’s political discourse, currently shoulder to shoulder with words like grand coalition government, Kibaki, Kalonzo and Raila.

Tribalism has various definitions world over, ranging from negative (primitive, non Western) through positive (egalitarianism, classlessness) to neutral (just belonging to a tribe). An interesting definition, and rather fitting in the case of Kenya’s recent violence is tribe/tribalism by an Ayn Rand

In Kenya, the term tribalism is usually loosely translated to mean the tendency to favour people from one’s community and hate those from other communities. It is also used interchangeably with negative ethnicity.

Trying to pin it down contextually is, however, easier said than done. This is clear when one analyzes the tribal relations dynamics in Kenya since independence.

I will let you make your own conclusions once you go through chapters one to seven.


Chapter one

April 23, 2009


These  two communities  have had a checkered history in terms of their relations. Their leaders started off in different political parties at independence, with Kenyatta (Kikuyu) in KANU and Moi (Kalenjin) in KADU. The communities had  somehow strained relations  due to this difference.

However, after KADU joined KANU, the relations between the two communities soon normalized until early 1990s due to the detention of Mr. Matiba and Mr. Rubia followed by the resignation of Kibaki and other Kikuyu leaders from the government.

The clashes of 1992 and 1997 helped matters none. Members of one community considered the other community monsters and vice versa.

With the ‘Uhuru project 2002’, there was a reversal of the ‘change -the- constitution-movement scenario. The kikuyu community was split between Kibaki and Uhuru with Kikuyus from the larger Kiambu supporting Uhuru and majority of the remaining kikuyu region supporting Kibaki. The ‘change -the- constitution- movement of the 1960s had been supported by Kikuyus from Kiambu while the rest were against it. It is note worthy that only the 2002 general election that was clash-free  since 1992.

The disagreements between the NAK and LDP over the MOU, followed by the heated political debates, culminating  in the 2005 Referendum extremely soured the relations between the two communities. This state of affairs was carried on and heightened during the contested 2007 presidential elections.

Chapter two

April 23, 2009


The relationship between these two communities started off on a fairly friendly note. This can be attributed to the fact that the political leaders of the two communities were in the same political camp. Kenyatta, Oginga Odinga and Tom Mboya were all in KANU, and high ranking government officials too.

The impact of Oginga Odinga quitting the government and forming KPU was neutralized by the presence of the charismatic Tom Mboya on Kenyatta’s side. It therefore did not disrupt by much the cordial relations between the two communities.

However, the tide of their relations turned on the assassination of Mboya in 1969 followed closely by the Kisumu massacre. The relationship remained tense through out President Moi’s reign. Sometimes the tension flared into passionate debates e.g. during the high- octane Wambui Otieno’s legal case.

In 2002 general elections, the relations between the two communities thawed some. This was after Raila Odinga’s Rainbow Coalition joined NAK to form NARC which won the elections with Kibaki as the flag bearer.

However, the relations were soon on the rocks after the disagreements between Kibaki and Raila over MOU. Matters did not improve much with the heated debates over the 2005 referendum, and the hotly contested 2007 presidential elections only moved matters  from bad to worse.

Chapter three

April 23, 2009


HISTORICALLY, these two communities  have interacted in relative peace  for long with the result that they have even borrowed a lot of cultural content from each other. There were, however, cases of raids from both communities.

The lack of conflict can largely be attributed to the fact that the political leadership of the Maasai community rarely got confrontational in search of national political power. All this changed with the 1992 and 1997 tribal clashes which were largely instigated by political leaders.

Having co-existed for so long, it appears a lot of persuasion by political leaders is required  for the Maasai community to take up arms against the Kikuyu. This is exemplified by the fact that during the 2007 post election violence ,they just reluctantly  got into the fray.

Chapter four

April 23, 2009


These communities do not have a history of conflicts between them. The only time the Kikuyu and Kamba communities had  frosty relations was during the 2005 referendum, attributable to their leaders having been in different camps, Kalonzo supporting Orange and Kibaki banana. However, the relations soon thawed after the split of the Orange movement into ODM and ODM- Kenya.

In the case of Luhya and Kikuyu communities, the only time they ever had strained relations was during the 2007 disputed presidential elections. This is attributable to the fact that the Luhya community has been pretty ‘liberal’ in their democratic process: They vote for leaders both in government  and in the opposition. It is therefore quite hard to bring them together long enough to ‘educate’ them on the ‘virtues’ of hating members of other communities  whose political leaders are in government.

Chapter five

April 23, 2009


These two communities started off in normal friendly terms, a situation which lasted until the 1982 coup attempt when Raila Odinga was detained and Oginga Odinga placed under house arrest. However, the relations between the two communities improved when Raila led his NDP party into a merger with KANU.

This arrangement did not last and there was a major fallout between the two leaders over project Uhuru. Raila Odinga led some KANU leaders into government and into the opposition through the rainbow coalition. This did affect the two communities’ relations.

Following the fallout of Raila and Kibaki over the MOU, Ruto and Moi joined Raila and campaigned for the Orange in the referendum. This brought the two communities back together, and together they campaigned for the ODM in the 2007 general elections despite spirited efforts by the former president Moi to divert them towards PNU.

Chapter six

April 23, 2009


These two communities have lived in relative peace for the greater part of the life of independent Kenya. However, things came into a head in the 1990s when a lot of Luhya leaders joined FORD. This was followed by the 1992/1997 clashes which affected those who lived at the boarders of the two communities.

During the 2002 general elections, most Luhya leaders rooted for NARC and the relations of the two communities became a bit tense. This however was neutralized by the presence of Musalia Mudavadi in Moi’s government.

After the fallout over the MOU, the Luhyas went back to their liberal politics; some sticking with Kibaki’s side and a chunk following the Orange wave through the referendum and eventually to the 2007 general elections.

It is note worthy that due to their liberal democratic tendencies, it has proved hard for one to wholly ‘hate’ them or even convince them to wholly ‘hate’ another tribe just because its leaders are in government.

They still were some skirmishes along the boarders of the two communities in 2007 elections, probably because their Kalenjin neighbors considered them “Not anti-government enough”.

Chapter seven

April 23, 2009


These two communities do not possess a history of any bad blood between them. This is attributable to their ‘liberal’ politics. Like their Luhya brothers, at the most heated political events, they always have some leaders in the opposition and others in the government. The only time this ‘magic formula’ didn’t work was after the acrimonious split of the ODM family and the eventual presidential candidature of Kalonzo Musyoka. Even then, Charity Ngilu tried to be a liberal by joining ODM while the likes of Kalembe Ndile and Prof. Kivutha Kibwana were batting for Kibaki’s side. However, Kalonzo‘s ‘wiper’ wave proved too strong for the ‘liberals’ to make an impact.

The relationship between Kalenjins and Kambas is much like the one between the Kalenjins and Kikuyus, only that it is not physical since they do not border each other. The liberal Kamba wing spearheaded by Ngilu is however hard at work to try and even things out, whether it succeeds is anyone’s guess.

New Constitution

April 23, 2009

The new constitution shall be effected through a constituent assembly or a constitutional  convention and not through a referendum

Mass Action!

April 16, 2009

maybe, just maybe, the call for mass action is a pretty good idea. A few killings here and there, a few property destroyed and others looted,a few rapings, and then we can always invite Annan back.

As far as I can tell, this is the only way kenyans, who profess of being intelligent, will wake up and smell the f-ing coffee!!

Dont get it twisted,I am still on course to prevent all this stupidity through my project “eradicating tribalism and preventing post election violence”.