June 11, 2024


It is crucial as a nation to work together to transcend these divisions and embrace a future that values inclusivity and cohesion.

More by Winnie Kabintie

Kenya at 60: stop with the tribal politics

Kenya at 60: stop with the tribal politics

Tribal politics have no place in modern Kenya

The persistent issue of tribal politics continues to undermine national unity. While Kenya has made significant strides in economic development and political stability, ethnic divisions, rooted in historical injustices and perpetuated by modern political practices, remain a formidable challenge.

Historical Context of Ethnic Divisions in Kenya

Kenya is home to over 40 distinct ethnic groups. This rich diversity of cultures, languages, and traditions has shaped the country’s history and continues to influence its political and social landscape.

Ethnic divisions in Kenya are deeply rooted in the colonial era when British authorities implemented policies that accentuated ethnic identities for administrative convenience; divide and rule. The creation of “tribal” reserves and the promotion of certain ethnic groups over others laid the groundwork for inter-ethnic competition and mistrust.

Post-independence, political leaders often capitalized on these divisions, using ethnic allegiances to secure votes and maintain power.

The Impact of Tribal Politics

Historically, ethnic divisions have characterized the country’s politics, with the situation worsening every electioneering period (after every five years). The 2007-2008 post-election violence, which resulted in over 1,100 deaths and the displacement of hundreds of thousands, remains a stark reminder of the ills of ethnic conflict.

As a Kenyan youth and being cognizant of Kenya’s demographic, which continues to get younger by the day with 80 percent of Kenya’s population comprising young people under the age of 35, it’s been my hope and those of fellow youth that tribal politics will become outdated.

However, the recent flare in ethnic divisions, which are surfacing a tad bit too early before the August 2027 elections, proof that we still have a long way to go!

The Role of Political Rhetoric

Political rhetoric has been a key tool used by politicians to fuel ethnic divisions. Recently, politicians led by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and other Mount Kenya leaders have sparked another wave of ethnic-based rhetoric aimed at rallying support.

This trend is unfortunate and highlights the ongoing reliance on tribal politics to secure political power. Ethnic-based rhetoric fosters division and mistrust among different communities, undermining efforts to build a cohesive society.

Kenya at 60: The Need for Change

Kenya at 60 should stand on the precipice of change. The persistent issue of tribal politics, rooted in historical legacies and greed, poses a significant challenge to national unity. Moving forward, it is crucial as a nation to work together to transcend these divisions and embrace a future that values inclusivity and cohesion.

By promoting inclusive governance, addressing economic disparities, and fostering social integration, Kenya can build a more unified and prosperous future for all wananchi.


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