I have explained here in the past that there is nothing wrong with tribe. It is a cultural fact and a human socio-cultural phenomenon. Our problem in this country is not tribe. It is tribal-ism. I have defined tribal-ism as the use of the cultural fact of tribe for inclusion and/or exclusion. NASA has continuously accused Jubilee of exclusivist politics based on ethnic discrimination. They claim that, unlike Jubilee, they are going to form an “all-inclusive” government. One would therefore expect that inclusion to start at the very formation of NASA. Instead, they have gone ahead and signed an MOU between three tribal kingpins and a wannabe. Whatever they want us to believe, the fact is that the MOU is a power-sharing agreement.
What this means is that power in NASA has already been shared among three tribes. This would be the basis of their government, and while they claim that “others are welcome” it is an invitation that rings hollow because only a fool will join a party where all the food has already been dished out and the gifts distributed. The call is reminiscent of a married man who has no intention of leaving his wife, but goes ahead to woe a “mpango wa kando” with promises of marrying her. All she can expect to be is a “kept” woman, at best a second wife. The NASA marriage has been consummated between three tribal kingpins and a wannabe. Whoever wants to join can come in as a concubine or a second wife!
NASA is officially a tribal trilogy. Consequently, anybody trying to get into NASA post-MOU will receive the ominous warning, “NASA ina wenyewe”. While NASA is shouting about ethnic inclusivity, it has gone ahead to simply do what Jubilee did. Jubilee created a tribal duopoly and seized power and predictably formed an exclusivist government. NASA has started off by signing an MOU that equally makes it a tribal trilogy, to the exclusion of others. They have accused Jubilee of lacking “the face of Kenya”. Yet when you look at those who have entered a power-sharing agreement in NASA, you do not see “the face of Kenya” either, you see a tribal trilogy. They should have waited until they had build a consensus for a coalition that represents the face of Kenya. But the tribal kingpins in NASA are not interested in the face of Kenya, they are interested in the face of power.
I have consistently argued that the bitterness of NASA tribal kingpins with Jubilee has nothing to do with the people. I will remind you that they were all in the blood-soaked coalition government. They considered it “inclusive” because they, the tribal kingpins, were in it. They wanted you to believe that because they were in government, their tribes were in government.
This is manifest nonsense.
Government jobs in the Coalition Government were given to their relatives, cronies and nominees of their financiers, not to the hoi polloi who voted for them. The voters were as wretched during the “inclusive” blood-soaked coalition government as they are now with the “exclusive” Jubilee government. Now that the NASA tribal kingpins have been outside the nyama eating spree for four years, they are shouting about “inclusivity”. Unfortunately, their idea of inclusivity is replacing the Jubilee tribal duopoly with their own tribal trilogy.
Why is the use of tribal-ism so important to the political class in Jubilee and NASA?
Because it is the easiest way to mobilize for a political class without the intellectual sophistication to imagine higher non-ethnic, unitive political courses and narratives. These guys know nothing else. For you to mobilize politically, you need a political narrative that resonates with the people and that mobilizes a big enough constituency for you to win elections. Some narratives are more sophisticated than others. It takes political wit and strategy to imagine non-identity based political narratives. The more sophisticated and intelligent a politician, the more complicated the political narrative they are able to articulate and sell to the people successfully. The less sophisticate and less intelligent a politician, the more simplistic and identity based the political narrative that they push to the people.
The Kenyan politicians are of the latter type. Unsophisticated, intellectually challenged and morally depraved. In this category, also lies clownish dictators and even warlords. Statesmen and great politicians are of the former type. That is why Obama was able to mobilize Americans successfully yet he was coming from a minority race. He had the sophistication of intellect and skills that it takes to do that and to mobilize a large constituency without resorting to identity based politics. His is a testament that with political imagination and skill even people from minority groups can successful access state power.
The more debased, degenerate and intellectually challenged a politician is, the cruder the political narrative that they use to mobilize people. The crudest of these narratives are identity based narratives because they do not require any intellectual abilities or special skills to push. All you need is to remind people who they are in terms of color, ethnicity or religion and tell them that their problem is those people who do not look like them, come from the same village, share a language or pray like them. You do not need to be very intelligent to do that. In fact the more intellectually dour, morally depraved and spiritually empty a politician is, the easier they find it to resort to identity based politics.
This is why intellectually empty politicians like we have in Kenya, having nothing inspiring to tell the people, fall back on such simplistic approaches like ethnic politics of identity. They will use these to mobilize the people against each other provided the end result is power for themselves. This is the problem in Kenya. The Jubilee and NASA honchos are rather unsophisticated politicians who cannot conceptualize a viable non-ethnic political narrative to mobilize the people. They do not have the intellectual ability to do so. But most importantly they have no motivation to do so. The ethnic narrative is easy to sell and does not require a lot of thinking. Unfortunately, it is inherently based on exclusion. By using tribe to exclude or to include they make the innocent fact of tribe a problem to Kenyans. This is why the only response that NASA can muster in relation to the Jubilee ethnic duopoly, is an ethnic trilogy of their own.
I have argued that the ethnic tribal political narrative of both NASA and Jubilee has brought us as far as it can. They have nothing new and nothing more to offer. One side needs the ethnic narrative to keep power to benefit themselves and their cronies, and the other side needs the ethnic narrative to grab power for the same reasons. Both see ethnic mobilization as the only instrument to achieve these ends. They have therefore made it the only political narrative that hogs all the space in the political arena in Kenya. Left up to them, we are doomed to ethnic politics for ever.
I hold a different position.
Most of my readers would know why and what that position is. I have argued persistently that the response to political narratives must be new alternative narratives. That we are stuck with the ethnic narrative is not a “a fact of life” the “reality” as some people have argued. It is “a” reality created by the tribal kingpins in NASA and Jubilee and it has an antidote – A new different “reality” which will emanate from a new non-ethnic political narrative.
It is urgent.
We must imagine a new non-ethnic political narrative to mobilize the people differently since as you can see, those who claim they want to “save Kenya” from Jubilee have no new way of imagining our political engagement outside ethnicity. They want us to believe that the answer to the Jubilee tribal duopoly, is a NASA tribal trilogy. It is not!