Ethnic Idiosyncracy the Bane of our Nationhood - Francis Tome

In 1941, Jesse Jackson in appreciating the diversity of the American society said that “America is not a blanket woven from one thread, one color, and one cloth”. He opined that it was the conscious harnessing of unity in its diversity that ought to be the pillar of its strength. This conscious effort bore fruit. And the results are there for all to see today.

In Kenya the thought of harnessing this diversity is akin to planting hybrid seeds in unhealthy soils. And the odious reality is that ethnicity and nationhood have become archenemies. Ethnic interests are always in dissonance with nationhood. Kenya like a nuclear tinder box only requires a splint from self seeking politicians for the unimaginable holocaust to happen.

And we have such politicians in plenty judging from their irresponsible utterances. They cling to the most fallacious conviction that what is sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander. Their socialization is greatly influenced by the thinking that no other person other than that from their ethnic group is fit to take the mantle of leadership in this country because they imagine that the “other” ethnic group poses a threat in their scramble for the valuable but limited resources available in this country. For them the Golden Rule, or ethic of reciprocity is twaddle. In the public limelight such politicians will pass for our average nationalists but in the comforts of their ethnic conclaves they are shockingly different.

That is why I thought that my mind was playing on me some dirty trick when sections of the media reported that the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for finance honorable Uhuru Kenyatta had ostensibly appealed to his central Kenya counterparts to unite and support one of their own if their dream of ascending to the helm of leadership of this country was to materialize. In my view, this rhetoric is admittedly the most consequential of honorable Uhuru Kenyatta`s ephemeral ambition. Many have always thought of him as a transformational leader. It therefore behooves many conscientious Kenyans that he can talk about national healing and reconciliation and in the same breath embellish the hydra of negative ethnicity.

As for the people, we have failed to wipe of those foolish grins off our faces. Why for instance should we decry the negative effects of ethnicity but dance ourselves lame when our so called leaders invoke the hydra of negative ethnicity? In any case, it is doubtable that such leaders want to use this ethnic platform to advance the interest of “their people”. It can only be that they want to ride on the back of negative ethnicity to access raw power so that they can advance their own selfish interests.

We must come to the realization that we have a Hobson`s choice if we are to built a nation that all of us are to be proud of. And that is to rid this country of this hydra of negative ethnicity. One such effort has began with a facebook group known as “You don`t have to be from my tribe to be my President”. The founder members found it necessary to use this forum to bridge the ethnic gap in order to foster a tolerant and a more cohesive nation. It is upon us to extend our unequivocal welcome to everyone interested in the struggle to kill this hydra of negative ethnicity. Like Jesse Jackson, I dare say that Kenya is not woven from one thread, one color, and one cloth. But with a wee bit of understanding and a little more patience and tenderness towards each other, this blanket can afford all of us some warmth. The time to act is now.

Tome Francis,

Bumula Constituency

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