Archive for September 3, 2015

Devolution as an Antidote for Tribalism?   Leave a comment

Every tribal grouping has a right of self-determination, advocating for their own socioeconomic development and protection of their natural resources and cultural heritage. That is the gospel that under girds many of the fundamental laws enshrined in the new Kenya constitution. A devolved system of power at the county level, has in effect formalized what amounts to “tribal areas” that are constituted as political entities. In such a universe, political players compete with their own tribesmen and therefore the question of “tribalism” does not arise.

Now Here Comes the “Glitch”
Not all of our tribal areas are blessed with favorable natural endowment. Arid and semi-arid areas like Ukambani and North Eastern region, are places where people constantly struggle against the tyranny of mother nature. Without an infusion of revenues and other resources from the central government, such places would be condemned to a chronic state of privation and underdevelopment.

Given the heavily tribalized politics of Kenya, would the central government disburse funds for development out of noble and lofty principles? Certainly not. The neglect of these areas and the marginalization of such areas as the Coast has been the order of the day since Kenya became independent. Without an aggressive counter-hegemonic tribal political mobilization and agitation, no resources have been forthcoming under the stewardship of the tribal moguls such as Mzee Kenyatta, Moi, Kibaki and UhuRuto .

It is in the national political contestations that we find the loudest noises regarding “tribalism”. That is understandable since we are talking of the control of the enormous resources of the central government and the power to decide who gets what. No political leader in Kenya can assume the leadership of the central government without the solid backing of their tribal base and the capacity to make deals with other major tribal political players. It is equally true that an effective opposition to a ruling tribal oligarchy can only be mounted by marshalling the solid support of the tribal groupings that are not in power.

When Will All This End?
Tribal politics will begin to recede when socioeconomic development brings about new forms social differentiation and class formation. The latter is simply a reflection of the capitalist path to development that Kenya embarked on since the country became independent.

Bless you all
Mwalimu Edari


Posted September 3, 2015 by edari1 in Land Tenure Issues