I was brought up in Mumias if you use tribal lenses like yours truly then you will decode that sentence like this “she was born and breed in Mumias which is in the Western part of Kenya an area inhabited mostly by the Luhya tribe who form a large component of the opposition party, whichever it is right now”. In Mumias, due to upbringing among other factors, we believe that we can support only support the opposition party, we could never support any other party. We could never vote for those people, you know them right? The guys from the mountain?
At the pinnacle of the Black lives matter movement this year, I was as enraged as any human being who still had the fibre of humanity running through them would be. George Floyd was murdered as the world watched. Yes, it is a crime against humanity but most importantly it was a crime against the black community.
What is tribalism? Well, Tribalism is the state where individuals within a particular tribe emphasize strong loyalty to their community while exalting themselves as superior to the rest. As such, the commitment to one’s tribe results in strong negative emotions for any person outside the group. Tribalism is supposed to act as a form of identity for people in a particular social group; however, when it comes to Tribalism in Kenya, it is mostly associated with negative ethnicity and corrupting influences. It is presumed by many that the human brain is wired to tribalism owing to its evolutionary advantages. In Kenya, there exists 42 tribes, among these are the presumed top 3, Kikuyu which emanates from (GEMA) which stands for Gikuyu, Embu Meru and Akamba. This is basically tribes found in the Central and Eastern part of the country. The Nandi, the Luo and the Luhya are said to be part of this group, a sentiment that is gotten from the track record left by the leaders of our country.
Americans tackle race among other social issues and in Kenya, we tackle tribalism and corruption plus a couple of other social issues. Just like racism, tribalism is taught. One is nurtured in an environment that feeds and grows on the hate of a different tribe or tribes. When I was growing up, at no point was I allowed to support the other party, this at the time was either KANU or PNU. My parents made it known to me that I was part of the opposition party, period. To be honest, I was in grade 4 and I really could care less about the ruling party at the time. All I cared for was that my favourite shoes matched my hairband, so simple and honest. It was in this same home that I learnt not to trust people from Central. I was taught from a young age that members of the Gikuyu tribe are thieves, of course, my parents were making this decision because of news from mainstream media that would announce scandals that were populated by members of the said tribe. We were to never marry into the Gikuyu tribe neither were we to interact with them at close range. Those were my formative years hence you can imagine how this type of set up changed my complexion when it came to the Gikuyu’s which if I haven't mentioned already ae people just like you and me.
Thirteen years later, I learnt that I can unlearn. I can choose to unlearn what I was taught by my parents. I can choose to interact freely with members from GEMA and even trust them. Yes, I was taught to stay clear from these people but what my parents forgot to pass down to me was that after all is said and done, they are just people. Race and tribalism have one thing in common, this is that they strip all of us off humanity which is our common denominator. They paint us in a different light which further makes us fight and alienate from each other. It is with this mindset that I’m still unlearning most of what I was told by my folks and the environment that I grew up in. With all this in mind, I’d be lying if I said that I fully trust my friends who are Kikuyus, and it would be a full-blown lie if I told you that I dream of getting married and residing in Muranga, no I’m not there, not yet.
I’m still at the infancy level when it comes to tribalism. I’m still trying to navigate my world which constitutes a major interaction Kikuyus or people from Central as a whole. I’m still trying to view them as people even when my workplace is mainly made up of them despite the talk on inclusion. I still try to separate myself from my parent's advice even as the billions of taxpayer money is looted by political leaders from the area. I’m still trying to forget all that I was told even after “Kamau” stole my brand-new phone from me in town. I’m still…. I’m still a tribalist.