In the last couple of days, quite a lot has happened across the globe. From Grace Mugabe being granted diplomatic immunity in South Africa where she is alleged to have assaulted a young model, to the cowardly incidence of terror in Barcelona. But the most unfortunate one that has captured the attention of the global media, igniting the ongoing conversations, is the Charlottesville tragedy. Heather Heyer lost her life while 19 other individuals got injured as they were counter protesting a white supremacist protest. Out of hate, a car driven by a white supremacist rammed into the counter protesters resulting to the killing and injuries.
The question of tribal hate is being revisited. Not just in America, but across the globe. Kenya being no exception. Yet at the same time, institutionalized hate and prejudice being exposed.
Kenya’s August Presidential polls this 2017 has brought to the surface quite a number of deep seated issues that the Country needs to address. Tribal hate and ethnic prejudice topping the list – as is now the norm pre, during and post polls. This in turn tends to threaten the fabric of the Society in form of fear, unrest, and conflict (including online conflict). Already, in an unfortunate twist of events, the August polls has led to a couple deaths. From major players in the electoral process like the late Chris Musando, (IEBC’s ICT Manger who was killed a week to the elections), to very innocent little souls baby Samantha (6 months) and Moraa (9 years) -one alleged to have been clobbered and the other shot by the police in Kisumu and Mathare respectively. Loss of property as a result of unrest in pockets of areas after the announcement of the Presidential results was also recorded. This, after dozens of peace conferences, peace marches, and peace adverts across both mainstream media and social media.
It is important to note that during this period, there was a clear divide between those advocating for peace, and those advocating for justice -through a credible electoral process. Each, suspicious of the other. Unfortunately again, most would choose to advocate for either peace or justice depending on their side of the political divide. While those advocating for peace – majority of whom tend to be Jubilee leaning – equated justice to call for violence, those advocating for justice – majority of whom tend to be NASA leaning – equated peace to call for ‘everyone to close their eyes and shut their ears’ in case of a rigged election. A debate that is still ongoing.
Peace Vs Justice.
Before dissecting any further the issue of tribal hate, allow me to address this issue of peace and justice in the simplest terms possible – without being academic. I had previously described the different types of peace, at the same time, I had submitted why credibiltiy cannot be sacrificed at the altar of peace. So what then is the relation between Peace and Justice?
Allow me to use my simple formulated analogies……When you meet a religious person, they usually say that for them to practice at optimum level, their mind, body and soul/spirit, ought to function in harmony. When the three are in sync, they achieve peace and therefore practice their religion at optimum level. Likewise, when you meet a philosopher, they will say that for them to function at optimum, their mind, courage and appetite/character ought to be in harmony. When the three are in sync, they achieve peace and are at optimum. In the event that one of the three aspect is out of sync, peace is lost and the body becomes dysfunctional – and cannot achieve its optimum level. Say for instance one becomes sick, the body is out of place slowing down the mind and spirit. What do you do next? You simply check the symptoms and get the correct medication. The process of checking the symptoms and administering medication to the body is what is referred to as JUSTICE. Correcting that which is wrong to bring the system back to PEACE in order to function optimally. Justice can be administered before the system fails – e.g taking preventive measures to block harmful bacteria from getting into your body- or after the system is already failing i.e taking medication to cure a disease. In both cases, JUSTICE and PEACE have to co-exist in order for a system to function at its optimum.
So moving forward, the peace diehards on the one hand, and the justice diehards on the other need to understand that peace and justice are two sides of the same coin, and that they need to pull together in order to correct the system. At the same time, everyone needs to stop the prejudice that justice means violence. It doesn’t.
Back to tribal hate.
This electoral cycle has really exposed the Kenyan Citizenry. From the so called ‘leaders of tomorrow’ to even religious leaders – forget about the Politicians. From the surface, one can safely conclude that majority of Kenyans fall in one of the first two categories. The first are the outright hate mongers. Stirring ethnic hatred has become their cup of tea – and majority were well used by politicians to consolidate their tribal/ clan blocks for purposes of voting. Some of whom found themselves in Court for going over-board. The second category are simply individuals with ethnic prejudices. By just observing the voting pattern, you need not go any further. In this category, some might not talk much, but they hold dearly to their misconceptions and are willing to pretend that they are not seeing any reason however much the sun shines. When hate-mongers from the side of their divide are destroying the social fabric of the Nation, they adopt a see no evil, hear no evil mantra. Then we have the minority. True patriots who see wrong as wrong, and right as right irrespective of who does what – whether they support them or not. They speak out, but most importantly, act for the sake of the Nation.
The path of tribal hate is a dangerous terrain to maneuver. It slowly but surely leads to self destruction.
It is not only discouraging to note that over the decades, Kenya’s leadership has, either by omission or commission, failed to administer a cure to the diseases of tribal hate and ethnic prejudices, but it is even more disheartening to realize that even the so called leaders of tomorrow are willing – and most of the times- ready to inherit the status quo.
What we need right now is individuals with a clear conscience, and courageous enough to stand against tribal hate and ethnic prejudice so as to channel a new course for this Country. Enough with your tribal hate silly!
In the wake of the happenings in America, Rev. Al Sharpton is mobilizing Ministers of God, Imams, Rabbis and civil rights activists to Minsiters March for Justice in Washington. In the next one week, they will not only demonstrate that they are tired of tribal hate in America’s leadership, but also demonstrate their displeasure by the silence of the majority.
If Zulaikha Patel, a 13 year old South African from Pretoria Girls High School was able to lead students to stand against institutionalized racism and abuse by teachers – making global headlines, then no Kenyan has an excuse not to stand against and correct the growing tribal hate and ethnic prejudices – whether institutionalized or otherwise.
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of their skin, or their background, or religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite” Nelson Mandela.