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Essay: Ethnicity

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In attempting to understand ethnicity, some scholars have conceptualized it as a product of contact and not of isolation, and by implication entailing commonalities and differences between categories of people in a process. Eriksen (1993) has referred to this process as complementarization and dichotomization. He argues that, in spite of the very many contested nations of ethnicity, ethnic groups or categories tend to have nations of common ancestry, common culture ‘ common territory, justifying their unity. Most importantly, ethnicity is an aspect of relationship and not a cultural property, for if a setting is wholly mono-ethnic then there would be no ethnicity.
Ethnicity is said to play a significant and crucial role in African politics ( Horrowitz 1985; Posner 2005). Recent research studies have confirmed this fact, and that the impact of ethnic identities is extremely complex and variable. African countries are known to consist of different nations (ethnic communities/groups) within their boundaries (states) and as a result experience ethnic tensions not only in the political sector but in all sectors of life ‘ social, economic and cultural. Although the worldwide politicization of primordial attachments has left developed countries like the former Soviet Union, Canada, Belgium, the United States and Britain with rising ethnic tensions, the magnitude of the task of national unification in Africa is probably unequal elsewhere in the world. Despite the relatively small populations of most African states, some contain more than 100 disparate ethnic groups; take a case of Ethiopia which has 82 ethnic groups/nations.
Background of the Research
With the advent of political independence in 1960s, the colonial divisions found relevance in the competition by different communities for the scarce resources, particularly land. Communities that had co-existed in relative peace before and even during colonialism period found themselves competing for political power. And because resource allocation and distribution under the colonial administration and the post-independent governments were always lopsided, unequal and discriminatory, political power was viewed by each community as the vehicle to ‘paradise.’ Thus, elites with common language and culture band together to form or belong to the same organization or political party in order to compete for political power, primarily as a leverage for a share of the scarce resources as well as the ‘national cake.’
Moreover, there is understandable psychological association between certain ethnic groups and political parties in ethnically segmented nations of Africa. Hence, ethnicity has a direct and indirect impact on political behavior both positively and negatively. However, ethnicity as a political tool remains one of the daunting obstacles to the democratization enterprise in Africa. The civil wars in Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi, among others, can be attributed to the contest between different ethnic communities over the control of the apparatus of state and government for the allocation of the national pie. The politicization of ethnicity all over African continent has turn generated deep-rooted suspicions, mistrust and at times into widespread violence, insecurity and even caused genocide as experienced in Rwanda. Thus, many aspects of competitive politics in Africa are founded on ethnic politics based on who gets what, when and how. These are the roots of what has emerged as ethnic tensions and tribalism in Africa.
Ethno-politics in Kenya has been in existence since independence and it is understood that ethnicity and politics in Kenya are closely intertwined concepts. Ethnic demarcation and regionalism, as promoted by ethnic leaders, revolve around the practice of ethnic exclusion. Ethno-politics has finally degenerated into competition, discrimination and violence not only in Kenya, but all over the continent of Africa.
Kenyan politics have long been among the most ‘ethnic-driven’ in Africa. This has been the case as from the battles over the constitutional formula for independence to the waning days of on-party era in 1980s, where politicians since sought support from their ethnic or sub-ethnic communities to ascend them to political prosperity. Political liberation since 1991 has not fundamentally changed this atmosphere. Instead, it has allowed ethnic politics to intensify by re-emerging into the open public domain. Ruling and opposition parties represent primarily all, some or coalitions of ethnic groups. Ethnically marked electoral violence largely instigated by the ruling regime or vice versa, has come to be expected, though not accepted as part of the campaign season or even then, as in the case of post election violence experience in the country in 2007/2008. Leaders are far more prone to make appeals to the state for resources in openly ethnic terms than they dared to do in the one-party era.
1.2 Statement of the research problem
Kenya just like most of the African countries is a multi-ethnic society and different ethnic communities have lived in harmony with each other for many years. However, in recent years, the dominant ethnic groups have been on the forefront in fighting to ascend to higher hierarchy of political power. This situation has resulted into various ethnic groups becoming conscious of political power, and ‘goodies’ that always comes with being at the higher levels of power, and hence fighting to control the state. This study will, therefore, seek to establish how ethnicity has become a tool for political power since 1990s. The study will specifically seek to find out whether political elite use ethnic mobilization as a tool to gain political power at the expense of their ethnic communities.
1.3 Objectives of the study
The overall goal of this study is to analyze the dimensions of ethnic mobilization associated with elites in Kenya, since 1990; whereas the specific objectives shall be;-
i. To determine if the elite play any role in ethnic mobilization in order to gain political power
ii. To establish whether there is a relationship between ethnic mobilization and political power
iii. To establish the impact of ethnic mobilization to the state
1.4 Justification of the study
Ethnic mobilization by political elite for political gains can greatly lead to negative ethnicity and this may result to violence conflict among various ethnic communities, hence affecting development and peaceful co-existence of these communities. A strategic ethno-politics analysis provides a deeper understanding of this political tool and provide an important source of information for use in long-term planning regarding how to design, implement and evaluate policies and strategies that may enhance equal distribution of state resources and equal development of all regions, hence curb political elite from rallying their ethnic communities for their own political and self interests/gains.
1.5 Literature Review
The relevant literature to this study is classified into two categories: those which deal with ethnicity and those that deal with political power in Africa. It starts with reviewing the works of various scholars on the phenomenon of ethno-politics in general before zeroing in on ethnic mobilization in Kenya as a tool used by political elite to maintain and/or acquire political power. Ethnic groups, in Africa numbers in the hundreds, each generally having its own language, (or dialect of a language) and culture. Many ethnic groups and nations of Sub-Saharan Africa qualify, although some groups are of a size larger than a tribal society. These mostly originate with the Sahelian Kingdoms of the medieval period, such as that of the Akian, deriving from the Kingdom of Ghana in the 10th century.
In Africa, countries are territories whose borders were drawn artificially at the Berlin Conference in 1885 by colonial powers for their own economic convenience reasons. In pre-colonial Africa, communities followed the natural process of ethnicization with overlapping and alternate identities with significant movement of people, intermingling of communities and cultural and linguistic borrowing. The Africa encountered by European Colonizers in 19th century was multi-ethnic with different forms of self governing. The colonial power destroyed such ancient African societies with slavery. After claiming landownership, the colonial power defined, classified, numbered and mapped African ethnic communities to create administrative units their political and institutional control. Colonization also created inequalities between ethnic groups based on the manner and degree of involvement in the colonial political economy. This ‘decentralized despotism’ meant the use of traditional and local chiefs through patronizing relationships where their loyalty was rewarded through access to resources controlled by the colonial power. These sources of wealth and power were distributed unevenly and permitted colonial powers to establish their legacy through the strategy of divide-and-rule.
The impact of these policies was new cleavage of class exacerbating, existing internal differences of gender, generation and client-hood. Power was given to some communities at the expense others creating frustration and completion to date. In the same manner, the extensive use of patron-clients networks, left little basis for development of modern states.
In the first decade of independence up to the end of the 1970s, the political discourse was about nation-building, development and nationalism. But this lasted for a short time in most sub-Saharan African countries. Colonial patron-clients relationships remained a current political practice. The lack of governance experience and political maturity of the new African leaders was obviously due to the lack of preparation of the latter by colonial powers before and during the decolonization process. A consequence of this neo-patrimonial system is the creation of single party systems to offer ‘national’ arena where distribution of resources between ethnic communities could be negotiated between the leaders of various ethnic groups, without having to resort to the public mobilization of their supports. In addition, competition for power was so high. Statistically until 1991, 59.4% of the 485 post-colonial African heads of states were either killed, put in jail or forced to exile. The price of the neo-patrimonial system is high because the State apparatus gets hollowed out from resources and serves personal enrichment. Its administrative capability is drastically reduced and so is its reach to its own population. Therefore, state leaders saw this system as the best way to retain control.
Actually, the competition between ethnically based patronage networks for access to state resources and political power was intensified by open electoral competition where the winner take it all. Votes were now exchanged for a political position and expected redistribution of material benefits not only in Kenya, but in various African countries too. Furthermore, the major use of majority elections tends to enhance this trait. What is important to note is that the little variation in ideology or program between parties in Kenya leaves little but their ethnic base for politicians to appeal to.
1.6 Theoretical framework
The study of ethnic and national identity, ethnic mobilization and nationalism, and the interaction of these forces with political process have perhaps not been sufficiently segmented, allowing for overlap between the three theoretical models that have undergirded the study of ethno-politics for several years. The three contending theoretical models that are found in the literature review and that can used to back the arguments in this research paper are: Primordial theory; Constructionist theory; and Instrumentalist theory.
Primordial theory, which views ethnicity as a natural trait rooted in the individual’s birth into an ancestral gene pool or shared cultural network, centers on the ‘origin and durability’ of ethnic identity. As such, it is a kin to but not entirely dependent on narrow, biological definition of ethnicity. Scholars who perceive ethnicity in its passive form adopt the primordial approach whereby they see ethnicity as based on primordial ties. For primordialists, ethnicity persists due to the durable nature of the primordial ties. In this approach, ethnicity can be viewed as a passive cultural consciousness and is considered as a given natural phenomenon. Unfortunately, this approach does not capture the active aspect of ethnicity as has been used as a means of acquiring power and resources by the elite.
Constructionist theory is more about the ‘adaptability’ of ethnic identity as a means of explaining its durability. Related to the broad definition of ethnicity we are employing here, Constructionist treats ethnicity as an evolving concept in which, ‘over time and space, economic, political and religious structures emerge with specific configurations that may be labeled ethnic.’ Here, the Constructionist approach to ethnicity provides a better point of departure.
This approach can explain ethnic mobilization and conflict at some point in time in any area of the contemporary multiethnic world, though the opportunities to manipulate the ethnic factor have perhaps been most prevalent in the Third world, where first decolonization and then subsequent regime failures have presented local demagogues with opportunities to exploit ethnic issues and animosities for personal gain, and in the post-communist world, where the sudden collapse of communism gave politicians in multi-national states an open political field in which to organize parties on an ethno-national basis and/or to play on minority grievances.
In contrast to both Primordial and Constructionist theories, Instrumentalist theory focuses on the ‘utility’ of ethnic identity as a tool of politics, used in a similar fashion by both individuals and groups in order to achieve their personal agendas. Here, the emphasis is on political leaders ‘ political entrepreneurs and demagogues who mobilize communities around perhaps latent or forgotten ethnic identities and grievances, not the groups themselves, and the area of concern is the political process, not the historical origin of the group or the changing environment in which it exists or defines itself. Instrumentalists treat ethnicity as a social, political and cultural resource for different interests and status groups (Hutchinson and Smith, 1996) . This approach correctly captures the active aspect of ethnicity. This is a case in Kenya where political elites always mobilize their respective ethnic groups to achieve personal gains such as wealth, power, status, privileges and security, at their expense.
1.7 Hypotheses
The main hypotheses of this research problem are;
i. Political elite use ethnic mobilization as a tool to ascend and/or maintain political power
ii. There is a greater relationship between ethnicity and political power in Kenya.
iii. Ethnic mobilization strategy intensifies ethnic competition for political power
1.8 Methodology
This study employs qualitative research approach where the researcher interacts with the respondents through unstructured questionnaires in order to collect the primary data. In addition, interviews, both formal and informal, will also be conducted with staff from different ministries, Kenyan intellectual, some ethnic leaders (elders), politicians as well as university lecturers and these data will mainly be non-numerical and envisaged to measure the attitudes, feelings and perceptions of the respondents on the unit of analysis of the study.
Furthermore, this study will mainly and broadly rely on the relevant literature from different researchers who have extensively written in the same field and this will provide secondary data of the study. These will include books, journals, publications of the United Nations and the European Union which complements the primary data collected.
2.0 Chapter Outline
Chapter One introduces the topic of the research study by first setting the broad context of the research study, the statement of the problem, objectives, justification, literature review, theoretical framework, hypotheses and the methodology of the study.
Chapter Two provides the background of the
Chapter Three looks at the extent of how principles of international law were or were not observed during this time.
Chapter Four analyses the data collected in the previous chapter in the light of the hypotheses and theoretical framework already stated
Chapter five provides conclusions of the study, gives recommendations and provides suggestions on areas for further study.
While the struggle for national independence helped to bring a sense of nationhood in some countries, the people of the continent have had to contend with artificial divisions such as mistrust and suspicions that came with them and were later re-enforced by political opportunities of African elites who took over from the colonialists. One of the countries that have been embroiled in the politics of ethnicity since independence is Nigeria. The politics of ethnicity in Africa’s most populous country took a serious turn following General Sani Abacha’s military coup of November 1993. He announced immediately after the coup, that he would establish a constitutional conference to work out the modality for Nigeria’s return to civilian rule.
Almost immediately, various ethnic groups such as the Ijaws, Tivs, Igbos, Yorubas, Edos and Housa-Fulanis started coalescing and articulating strategies to influence the outcome of the convocation by presenting their positions regarding the constitutional conference. The strategies of these ethnic groups were viewed to be instrumentalist. To this end, the contest related to the group that might become the custodian of the state and therefore be in a position to distribute scarce resources.
Sierra Leone is another country that experiences ethnicity in its electoral politics. Whereas the Creoles dominated the political scene in pre-colonial era for the other major ethnic groups, Temnes and Limbas, to discover the power of ethnic solidarity in the struggle for political power. The linkage between competitive politics and politicization of ethnic identities in Sierra Leone suggests, inter alia, that politics of ethnicity is primarily an instrumentalist phenomenon, its primordial underpinning notwithstanding. As an instrumentalist construct, the politics of ethnicity tends to collapse the distinction between political choices, affiliations and loyalties, on the other hand. In the case of Sierra Leone, following the peripheralization and marginalization of the hitherto dominant Creoles in internal politics, the final battle for the control of resources was to be waged between the Mendes and Temnes.
In Rwanda and Burundi, the problem of bad governance as manifested in preferential treatment of the Tutsi by the colonial power was largely responsible for politicization of Hutu ethnicity, which culminated, in the case of Rwanda, in an anti-Tutsi movement from the early 1950s climaxing in the so called Hutu revolution of 1959, a revolution which was preceded by massive propaganda against the Tutsi spearheaded by political elites who were positioning themselves to take over power in anticipation of the exit of the colonial authorities.
As fate would have it, the Tutsi nationalist leader at the time, Rudahigwa, was working closely with Patrick Lumumba in the Congo against Belgian colonialism in the two countries. His Hutu and Belgian detractors later accused him of wanting to turn Rwanda into a communist state. This convenient convergence of interests of the Hutu and the Belgians would tip the balance of support in favor of the Hutu, who would thereafter receive constant support in their campaigns against the Tutsi culminating into the overthrow of the Tutsi King. This marked the onset of what has become a permanent ethnic conflict between the two groups that before colonialism co-existed in harmony as a common linguistic community. Essentially, the Hutu and the Tutsi belong to the same ‘ethnic’ group. In other words, they have a common culture and language. Yet, ironically, the colonial powers were able to cause divisions amongst them through arbitrary and artificial stratifications using height, colour and anatomic features. The fear of a possible return of the Tutsi to power enabled the Hutus to put in place structures and processes in governance to exclude them forever, hence hegemony of the Hutus in every arena of life. The same was Burundi’s fate.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire, ethnic tension also characterized socio-political relationships, especially in the later period of colonialism. By the time of independence, politicization of ethnicity was an accomplished mission and it was just indisputably highly politicized at this time. This resulted in the formation of ethnic political parties by various ethnic groups; the Bakongo, the Lubakasi and so on, some of which had been fostered already by colonial masters on the eve of independence.
4.1 Historical background
In the case of Kenya during colonialism, Kenyans took arms in the early 1950s to fight for their motherland and for their freedom. In fact, Kenya’s war for national independence was the harbinger for many such activities in the continent and elsewhere. The Mau Mau war of liberation was fiercely fought in Central Kenya which became a complete war zone between 1952 and 1957. In reality, the whole country was on a war footing and Kenyans were involved in many ways. An interesting phenomenon of the Kenya’s fight for independence is that it united the country as a whole. There was no part of the country where the colonial government was accepted. All Kenyans, regardless of their ethnic background were united in fighting to remove the British from power.
The humiliation, exploitation and violence of colonialism against Kenyans were unbearable and this makes one to understand why the people were united in this endeavor. The best lands in the country were seized by colonial authorities and given to white settlers. African land owners became squatters providing labor to colonial in the farms they took from them. They were made to work for long hours without adequate wage; barely getting enough to feed their families. Moreover, they were forced to carry Kipande/pass on their necks in everywhere they go, at all times. People were lined up and caned by arrogant colonial administrators when the felt that the locals were disrespectful to them or sometimes just for entertainment. This was what drove Kenyans into embracing the ideals of Mau Mau and the war against the colonial power. In 1963 when Kenya attained independence, the whole country celebrated. It was the happiest day in the history of the country after achieving what people had been fighting for, ‘Uhuru.’ The government that emerged led by Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Jaramogi had a cabinet that reflected the diversity of the whole nation. Kenyans at this time were united as never before and one can really say the people had come together as a country.
What followed thereafter is a good example of how African elites who took power after the liberation struggles resorted to fuelling ethnic hatred and manipulation to divide communities; not for the benefit of those communities, but for the elites themselves to grab wealth and hang on to power by all means. This is really the second rise of ethnic tensions in Africa, and Kenya in particular which was mainly propped up by greedy and power hungry leaders who realized their best chance to stay in power was to incite communities against each other as well as mobilize their own communities to rally behind them, just for them to achieve or maintain political power.
The irony has been that these leaders, while looting public resources and amassing obscene amounts of wealth for themselves often go to their ethnic communities and feed them with a falsehood that it is time for their community to ‘eat.’ However, the sad note is that while the elite get wealthy by grabbing public land, houses and driving heavy ‘machines,’ most members of their ethnic groups are languishing in poverty and have nothing to show but somehow believe that somewhere down the line of wealth will trickle down to them. The result in all African countries and more so in Kenya is the emergence of toxic tribalism and negative politics of ethnicity. The communities that are being lied to that their time to eat is here, have become very hostile to other communities whom they feel want to take the food from their table, and the communities that are out of power also feel hostile to those in power, seeking to get back their chance to ‘eat’, and this goes on in a vicious circle. The tragedy of it all is that, only the elites are benefiting from this game of ‘eating’ and the people they are setting in conflict against each other cannot even afford a meal. In a way, we can, therefore, say that in Africa, the first major contributor to the politics of ethnicity were the first generation of African leaders and today regimes just inherited the same from their mentors.
5.1 Boundaries and administrative/electoral units
Kenya inherited the demarcations that the colonial administration created during the colonial era. Moreover, the name tags given to these administration units make people conscious of their identities and as a result, the political elites use this to rely their communities to either maintain and/or acquire political power. Furthermore, there is the issue to do with political disputes about unclear boundary demarcation of electoral and administrative units, and even the debate about the location of the headquarters of these units in a number of areas around the country. And this has been a basis for marginalized groups to insist on a more central location or one that favors them ‘ as a means of opening up areas. In actual fact though, political leverage, ethnic considerations and the quest for autonomy ultimately determine the way this issue is handled, and in effect this influences conflict or peace.
In Nyanza’s Kisii region there has been a dispute over the location of Kisii town, which is claimed by politicians from Kitutu Cheche and Nyaribari Chache. Still in the province, the sub-division of Kuria into Kuria East and kuria West districts in 2007 sparked inter-clan tensions over the location of Kuria East headquarters. As political parties have proliferated since the reintroduction of multiparty democracy, so have districts increased. The number of administrative and electoral units has multiplied in the name of bringing administration and services closer to the people. But in fact, it has been to reward supporters or bait them for political ends. This has a negative effect on ethnic consciousness.
5.2 Patronage and ethnicization of politics
The country has grappled with poor governance and leadership, systemic corruption, marginalization of same regions caused by inequitable development and inequalities, and a weak and shaky political system worsened by lack of issue-based politics. There has also been a proliferation of parties, most of which are ethnic and shaky alliances and coalitions founded on ethnic calculations. Hence, ethnicity has become a quick political mobilization tool, and this partly explains why electoral processes have been triggers of violence. Politically euphoric moments have failed to live up to citizens’ inflated expectations. This has been true at every change of administration in post-colonial times. Unfulfilled expectations have been feeders of discontent with the natural government.
Personalization of political power and tendencies towards authoritarianism has occasioned repressive practices by successive regimes, including constriction of political and democratic, space and political assassinations. Almost in each of Kenya’s post-colonial regimes, there have been suspicious killings of leading national figures. These aspects have informed increased identity-based tensions and even conflicts. Political succession battles have often led to ethnic alliances motivated by political elites’ power plays and manipulation of group identities. This aspect of the country’s politics is a structural cause of ethnic power struggle.
As such skewed government resettlement efforts in post-independent Kenya are viewed to have squandered a momentous nation-building. The post-colonial settlement of communities originally from Central province in Rift Valley is locally interpreted in the province as an attempt by Gikuyu Embu Meru Association (GEMA) patrons to secure the rights of only a section of Kenyans ‘ ethnically defined ‘ rather than assuring land to all Kenyans regardless of ethnicity or class.
In Coast province, the seed of regional semi-autonomy seems to have been fed by the ethnic land distribution that resulted in historical dispossession of indigenous Coastal communities, which explains the squatter problems in the province to date. Capitalizing on this, Coastal political elites have rallied local communities to band together on issues as a political survival strategy. It is from this perspective that a leading politician in Coast made statements viewed as inflammatory during a July 2010 constituency parliamentary by-election. The politician sought to rally public support by exploiting identity consciousness among Coastal communities.
5.3 Ethnicization of the State
The history of ethnically motivated control of the state, through personalization of political power, parochial ‘kitchen cabinets’ consisting of the president’s inner circle, and the pattern of skewed government appointments in favor of the ruling president’s community ‘ has made the state or its nature a structural cause of political division.
The ethnic state apparatus triggered the imperative to politicize identity as a political survival strategy at lower levels. The allure of the benefits of controlling government resources once in power only entrenched zero sum electoral politics. Ultimately this has led to waves of bloody political violence. Re-structuring the state and its apparatus through enhancing measures for inclusivity at all levels would help forge a national rather than ethnic identity. Political parties, either in their clamor for more democratic space or in the management of their parties are major determinants of political dynamics with an impact on conflict. Various aspects of political parties come under scrutiny.
5.4 Nature of political parties and internal party democracy and discipline
The short-term nature of many political parties is a major point of criticism. That the political elite form and/or join political parties, which they later dump for others, is evidence of the temporariness of ideology and permanence of political self-interest in Kenya’s politics. This is viewed as having institutionalized party indiscipline, where party members don’t feel bound to party ideals and have contributed to lack of issue-based politics. This form of rule-breaking behavior is bound to trickle down to the grassroots.
Another viewpoint is that parties are political machines for maintaining networks of loyal supporters, who most of the time are from their ethnic communities and not nationally oriented. To secure this support, parties depend on personalities with a big ethnic following, and this in essence means that a good number of parties are visible only in particular ethnic zones. In this way parties become institutions for ethnic divisions for divisions rather than national unity. In addition, because of the immense power of the party leaders, in the event of their demise, for example, the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and the late Michael Wamwala Kijana, party members are trapped in a nostalgic longing for the leadership qualities of the departed. It was seen to be indicative of degeneration ‘ that a party that is over dependent on its key leaders loses its ability to generate new equally or more capable leaders.
Conversely, where political party leaders seek alliances with parties ‘ and/or leaders with strong political bases in other regions, this has also influenced camaraderie among supporters of the new allies. In this essence, the running of ethnic political parties and their approaches to national politics is seen as elites’ mechanism to mobilize their ‘own’ for political benefits. The more numbers a politician mobilize the more chances to ascending to higher hierarchies of political power. A good example is the just concluded general election. One of the main reason why Jubilee coalition won because it was a coalition made up of the two major ethnic groups in the country, and they had really mobilized their followers from the word go.
6.0 Conclusion and Recommendations
Since independence, most African states have made only modest progress toward consolidating the multitude of diverse and often discordant ethnic groups within their borders into stable national communities. Despite the commitment of some national leaders to instill a sense of national identity, the allegiance of a large portion of Africa’s people to particularistic ethnic groups still surpasses their loyalty to the national community. As a consequence, achievement of a greater degree of inter-ethnic accommodation and national integration constitutes the most critical political problem facing most African states today. Julius Nyerere once said that, ‘if the present states of Africa are not to disintegrate it is essential that deliberate steps be taken to foster a feeling of nationhood. Otherwise, our present multitude of small countries could break up into even smaller units ‘ perhaps based on tribalism”
Ethnicity is, therefore, at the centre of politics. There is no way someone can mention ethnicity without touching somehow on politics in Kenya, because the two terms are closely intertwined. It is the political elites’ chosen alternative to ideological and issue-based politics, since it is the quickest mobilization tool. Yet at the root of this is colonial divide-and-rule policy, in which groups were Balkanized through formation of ethnically motivated administrative units. But modern politicians stay fixated on this approach, rather than transforming the country’s politics.
The preservation of some loyalty to particularistic ethnic groups is not necessarily incompatible with national integration. Ethnic loyalty and national integration do not represent two fixed and irreconcilable points on a continuum, for national identity is not an all-or-nothing proposition. The experience of several nations, including the United States, Switzerland and former Soviet Union, demonstrates that the maintenance of residual cultural values, attitudes, and commitments does not preclude the emergence of a strongly held national identity. National integration merely requires that identification with the national community supersede in certain situations more limited ethnic loyalties.
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