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Kenyans must look beyond clan and tribe

By Hussein Mohammed | Apr 13th 2017 | 2 min read

Naturally, humans are biased.

 Thus our parents instil in us the nobilities, achievements and expectations of our respective tribes. As a result, we grow up arrogant and perceive other tribes as inferior. When we hold a position in the community, we either subconsciously or in some cases, consciously behave like tribal men/women and disregard the logical tribal interests. Today in most counties in Kenya, we do not need to fear physical attack of opposing tribes. Yet, we continue to behave as if our very lives are in danger during the normal course of the day; at work, while watching a sporting event, while driving, and certainly in our political choices. Watching and reading articles of clan endorsement, clan bigotry and separation of Muslim faithful of rival clans in the upper and North Eastern makes the average Kenyan youth wonder if clannism is an ideology or simple barbarism.

Traditionally, our parents teach us about our tribes and our tribes’ expectations. The question of culture, therefore, is very important for Somalis. A non-Somali would surely find Somali culture rich and unique in terms of history, language, food and music. However, tribe is still seen as social insurance and a non-Somali may struggle to understand the extent of this bond and his/her partner’s obligations and duties toward the tribe.

Up North in neighbouring Somalia is the epitome of Somali clannism. So brutal was the fighting that the warring factions agreed to divide Mogadishu into northern and southern zones with an exchange of populations taking place. Tribalists, by contrast, reject universal standards of justice. A majority of Kenyan Somalis and non-Somalis are left in despair when it comes to marriage - one of the few social institutions that are hard to die and constantly develop despite the chaotic situation. In Mandera County, Murulle and Garre are the largest in the Somali community, but there are hardly intermarriages. The two have had protracted feuds that have claimed hundreds of lives. Other clans whose marriages are rare are the Auliyan and Abdiwak of Garissa whose 1990s conflict carries a bitter after-taste to date.

Just a few months to 2017 elections, are we ready to stand beyond clannism? I keep wondering if we are ready as youths to save the tainted image of our tribe. Let us reset the tribal button and change it to communities, justice systems and economic development. Let us move beyond the clan and tribal card. Hussein Mohammed, Nairobi

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