While tribalism discussions in Kenya are not new, contemporary tribalism challenges and undertones present new and /or more acute challenges to, as well as some opportunities for, securing and sustaining peace-building. The core peace-building principles should provide a normative basis to guide peace-building practitioners to secure the best environment for all. Peace building should be done by all for all. More importantly it is best to rethink and redefine the drivers of tribalism in Kenya. Tribalism is pervasive. It has the power to change people’s way of thinking and doing things. It can drive a country to major conflicts or war. With their multiplicity of other development challenges, tribalism in some developing countries (Kenya) poses some of the toughest development challenges.
The Kenya Vision 2030, the country’s new development blueprint aims to transform Kenya into a newly industrializing, “middle-income country providing a high quality life to all its citizens by the year 2030”. It envisions an equitable society that is politically, economically, socially cohesive and integrated, where the citizens have a shared vision and sense of belonging while appreciating diversity. Have we reached this level? The Kenya National Policy on Peace Building and Conflict Management founded in six pillars has continued to guide the process of institutionalizing peace. Several infrastructural frameworks have been created at both the national and county levels. Have we reached this level? Sessional Paper No.2 of 2012, the national policy on cohesion and integration, aims to “ensure that Kenya becomes an equitable society that is politically, economically and socially and integrated, where citizens have a shared vision and a sense of belonging while appreciating diversity. Have we reached this goal? How far are we? There have been several notable successes in tackling tribalism negativity in the country. Several strategies through the Kenya Cohesion and Integration Commission have been implemented. The Status of Social Cohesion report, 2014 (https://www.kipra.org/News-and –highlights/status-of-social-cohesion-in-kenya.html. ) encompassed 6 dimensions of social cohesion: trust, peace, equity, diversity, prosperity and national identity.
Indices Percentages (%)
Social Cohesion Index 56.6
(Source: KCIC, 2013)
Nationally, the Social Cohesion Index (SCI) was estimated at 56.6 per cent. The government of Kenya should be concerned with the lowest percentages; trust, peace, and equity. In an ideal situation SCI should be 100%. Judging from the sporadic community conflicts in the country, there are gaps that urgently need a redress moving forward. Working on the 43.4 % remaining ( for social cohesion to reach 100% ) should be a major priority.
Social cohesion is imperative for sustained development. If Kenya is to embrace Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), negative tribalism challenges must be solved. Tribalism has the propensity to disrupt peaceful coexistence. It is important to create and keep peace at all costs. There is need to recognize that peace is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for social cohesion. Peace building is an intervention that can be designed to prevent the start or resumption of violent conflict by creating sustainable peace. For peace to have sustained dividends it is important to develop sustainable institutions that guard and /or maintain normalcy when peace is disrupted. In order to build consensus among different stakeholders on peaceful coexistence, there is need for engagement forums that include policy dialogue aimed at creating an opening for reform agenda on tribalism dynamics and narratives. Unless we come together as a country and talk to ourselves we will never get help from the world. Lessons learnt are many in Africa where there has been protracted conflicts. Home grown solutions are the best. Prevention is better than cure! With the 42 tribes already divided by geographical, social and political affiliations, tribal undertones has continued to divide us further along tribal lines and making us retreat to our tribal cocoons. Some children only know about their tribes when they are reminded by parents or communities surrounding them. The youth and adults have the responsibility to heal this country from tribal animosity. The challenges that propagates tribalism in the Kenyan environment are both complex and dynamic. Though historical and environmental factors may serve as imminent warning signs, they are only part of a multidimensional cobweb that may exacerbate tribal animosity and insecurity.
The fight against tribalism has a moral imperative perspective. Some ethical responsibility is needed by all the people of goodwill. There is need to develop a framework for thinking about different ways that the government and the private sector can work with other stakeholders to prevent exacerbating tribalism challenges in future. Indeed, the empowerment of the youth with more rigorous and reliable information is a key pillar for reform. Social media forums have become a major platform for engagement and information gathering. The government should take the advantage to the core to provide the best wanted information to fight tribalism. Youth oversight and participation over the decision-making and functioning of the public sector can be a crucial counterweight and instrument for combating tribalism.
We can only pretend that all is well. It is not well when our education demand and supply has had to suffer from tribal thinking. Many parents have developed unwritten rules that their children would rather join private schools than cross regional boundaries in search of a school. It is common sense that after the 2007/2008 Post-Election Violence the country has not healed uniformly.
Undoubtedly we face challenges along the way as a country; some more complex than others but none that cannot be overcome. The leadership must come from within. A critical mass that cannot be ignored is the youth. A necessary component of successful strategies to deal with tribalism and all its accompaniments is an effective method for including and engaging with the youth. There is need to reverse trends and involve youth in fighting tribalism in Kenya. The youth play a crucial role in the world’s ability or failure to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Youth are a great human capital that cannot be ignored in peace policy design and implementation for development. With the right mix of policies, youth demographic numbers gives an opportunity that can be tapped to enhance more economic development and promote peace –building and health co-existence. Both macro and micro-level strategies must be developed to support the youth bulges.