OCHIENG: It’s important to bring whole nation into your camp

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By PHILIP OCHIENG
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Our country has pined for a national rapprochement since the post-election tragedy a generation ago.

Yet that tragedy does not seem to have taught any lesson to Kenya’s political class. We still hurl the most provocative ethnic words at one another.

If Kenyans were a thinking people, you score absolutely no marks by hurling such ethnic dung.

Take the question of who caused the post-election tragedy that subsequently sent our leaders to the World Court.

How is it that the President and Raila Odinga still find it proper to throw horse dung at each other?

As educated individuals, they should know that, as long as they throw filth, they are the ones who perpetuate the ethnic bitterness, which has oppressed this country since independence.

But I must be realistic. For tribes are here to stay, serving – as it were – as the molecular structure of our society.

Proper education should enable us to recognise easily and to exploit nationally the peculiar positive gifts of each of our ethnic groups.

Among other things, it would compel Mr Odinga to stop the habit of trying to make personal political capital out of every national tragedy because his own conduct – his own words, his own followers – do contribute importantly to every single one of Kenya’s political tragedies.

For, as educated people, our leaders should know why it is so easy to provoke the ethnic emotion and arrogance – the chest-thumping heroics – of our ethnic peoples, especially the Luo as a mass, into actions that do exactly nothing to endear them to other ethnic peoples of Kenya.

TRIBALISM
For his own part, President Kenyatta should weigh his words every time he feels constrained to assert that Mr Odinga was the cause of the post-election hecatomb in which more than a thousand Kenyans lie buried for aye. For such an allegation is not fair to Mr Odinga.

The hecatomb was an inevitable consequence of the narrow ethnic mentality which, in its own deeply subjective self-interests, Britain’s own colonial regime had initiated, sponsored, nurtured and intensified through the classroom in all of Kenya’s educated ethnic individuals.

One of its consequences can be seen in the ignominious and tragic fact that all of Kenya’s political parties are designed to appeal to particular ethnic groups.

All the human butcheries that accompany our national political elections can be attributed to that very simple fact.

Otherwise, why would it be so important to any Kikuyu individual that Mr Kenyatta be Kenya’s president; to any Luo that Mr Odinga be the president; to any Luhya that Mr Mudavadi be the president; to any Kalenjin that it be Mr Ruto – and so on ad infinitum?

How do you personally benefit merely because your tribesman is the occupant of the national sanctum sanctorum?

In a country as ethnically intense as we have allowed ours to become, if you have a massive ethnic following, you must be prepared to take responsibility for the behaviour of the whole ethnic mass in your wake during any national event as intense, ethnically, as a presidential election.

If, as presidential candidates, both Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga had been adequately briefed about the possible post-election tragedies, they might have done something to effectively forestall the hecatomb in which those polls culminated.

To say so is merely to point out the importance of surrounding yourself, as a presidential candidate, with only the coolest headed advisers from many of the country’s ethnic, gender, racial and religious groups.

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