Your article on the election politics of Kenya (last sunday) makes for interesting reading -- but it lacks the innovations that modern Kenyans have devised around the tribal problem -- namely five (5) important factors:
• The influential Kenyan diaspora: Older politicians cultivated voting majorities by playing biological affiliations “back home” in the various rural Nyalgungas.
However, this generic and predictably reliable audience has changed -- as more Kenyans migrate to various parts of the country (and the world). This new diaspora has better information networks with more integrated national goals.
Therefore, it has become increasingly harder for politicians to control the “market composition” in their own constituencies. Hence the politics of ethnic cleansing in some areas ……in order to manipulate the ballot in advance.
• Cross-tribal alliances among the younger Kenyans who now form the voting majority: During the height of the 2007/2008 genocides -- a twenty-year old Kenyan wrote a blog asking “which is my primary tribe” considering that his DNA roots came from eight (8) of the major Kenyan tribes then warring (plus Switzerland). His parting shot was: “Give me the freedom to love all of my relatives equally”.
The moderating power of such “mixed” Kenyans will certainly grow and produce positive results in future elections.
• The impact of urban migrations: Mutuma Mathiu (Nation newspaper commentator) wrote a powerful article two years ago entitled “Tribe of the Marquee” in which he observed that urban migrants, are recognizing that the most practical affiliation (tribe) is the neighbour next-door (who is always available through the crisis of daily living).
This phenomenon, has created layers of “new tribes” that will have a larger impact on national issues. One can sense the growing influence of such “post-tribal” Kenyans in the general tone of the new Constitution. The concept of national identity has changed drastically.
• The global village effect: Nothing demonstrates this reality better than having a current US President with strong roots in a small village called Kogelo. Consequently focusing on tribal politics is just the tip of a much larger iceberg.
Kenyans need to look far below the official water-line and comprehend the long-term interests of their neighbours, refugees, global friends and competitors.
Frankly, the next time disgruntled Kenyans damage their infrastructures (even to protest legitimate concerns) will become the perfect excuse for pre-emptive strikes by these hidden players. They may not be registered voters, but their interests cannot be ignored without fatal consequences. Therefore play your “local” politics wisely please……….…..
• The old boys and girls network is no longer relevant: The primary purpose of holding democratic elections --- is to allow a nation to gain new blood and new ideas towards its future development.
New blood certainly does not mean replacing Moi with the Kibakis or with the Railas, the Uhurus, the Kalonzos, the Karuas, the Saitotis and the Maringas. These folks are all children of the same mindset and style of governance. New wine must have authentically new wineskins.
Therefore, the under-thirty (30 years) Kenyans must now talk and collaborate above the usual enclaves for better leadership in their future.
Kenyans need to remember the negative results of Mobutu’s card game -- where folks became so busy protecting their tribal enclaves, that they cannibalised the national assets and strength. When war broke out in 1995 -- no government institution or force had the manpower or firepower (nor the coordination and trust) necessary to handle the external aggression. That nation quickly crumbled like a pack of cards.