× Digital News Videos Health & Science Opinion Education Columnists Cartoons Lifestyle Moi Cabinets Arts & Culture Ramadhan Special Podcasts E-Paper Lifestyle & Entertainment Nairobian Entertainment Eve Woman Travelog TV Stations KTN Home KTN News BTV KTN Farmers TV Radio Stations Radio Maisha Spice FM Vybez Radio Enterprise VAS E-Learning Digger Classified Jobs Games Crosswords Sudoku The Standard Group Corporate Contact Us Rate Card Vacancies DCX O.M Portal Corporate Email RMS

Don’t ignore tribal factor in elections

By - | December 23rd 2012

For all the fine talk against tribal alliances and calculation in electoral politics, I am yet to see where this is not done in the world.

Recently, Obama won the US elections through a ‘coalition’ that included Blacks, Hispanics and Asians, all of which are ethnic/racial groups. Mitt Romney swept the white vote, also another distinct ethnic bloc. Democracy being about numbers, it would take a miracle of hurricane size for a political leader to win a national election while ignoring the single largest electoral unit, which is the tribe.

 Unfortunately in our world, it is not just individuals who vote but also tribes. And yes, tribes just like individuals do have unique interests and grievances, some legitimate, some not but it’s for the vote outcome to sort that out.

In 1963, Kanu won the elections by bringing together the Luo and Kikuyu, the two biggest tribes in Kenya In the Narc revolution of 2002, all tribes of Kenya ganged up against the Kalenjin and Narc emerged winner. All these wins were a simple matter of arithmetic centred on the tribe.  You also have to get your hands dirty cobbling up a patchwork of an alliance of some kind.  Not doing so makes you elitist, plastic and out of touch.

True, the other politicians aren’t admitting that theirs are tribal alliances – but this is what makes shrewd politicians. Politics is the art of the possible, not merely rhetoric.

Xavier Owino, Nairobi


Take a quick survey and help us improve our website!

Take a survey
Share this story
Kenyans are not ready for any dirty political games
Whoever said that politics is a dirty game ought to have given us alternatives. It is the players who are responsible if the game turns out to be dirty.
I eagerly await my baby's first steps
Spina Bifida, and though rare in the general population, it is the most common neural tube defect in the world