Kenya’s 45 Tribes and Need For Real Change


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(President Uhuru Kenyatta)

Fellow Kenyans, it is important that we appreciate and acknowledge the contribution towards Kenya’s freedom struggle by all of Kenya’s tribes, and not just that of the Kikuyu, and/or that of Mau Mau and/or that of Dedan Kimathi. For example, other than the very frequent mention of Dedan Kimathi, we rarely hear the mention of numerous other luminaries in Kenya’s freedom struggle such as Mekatilili wa Menza, Otenyo Nyamaterere, Makhan Singh, Koitalel arap Samoei, Mwankega wa Malowa, Walter Fanuel Odede, Pio Gama Pinto, Muindi Mbingu, Arthur Ochwada, Elijah Masinde and Odera Akang’o.

By and large we all contributed to Kenya’s freedom struggle that’s the men and women who since the Nandi Resistance of 1895, and the different resistance movements that followed the Nandi Resistance, provided crucial much needed auxiliary support to the actual fighters e.g. food, contributions in cash or kind to support the continued resistance, and vital intelligence on the position and movement of British forces. A battle, a war, or a movement cannot be won in isolation, and battles, wars and movements are risky business for all and sundry i.e. the fighters themselves, and those providing crucial much needed auxiliary support.

The tribes in Kenya are 45 in number, not 42 in number – the Makonde were recently recognised as Kenya’s 43rd tribe, while Kenya’s Asians were also recently recognised as Kenya’s 44th tribe. Kenya’s Whites are Kenya’s 45th tribe even though they do not have formal recognition yet, and this is absurd for instance, Kenyan Asians and Kenya Whites, in numerous numbers, have acquired Kenyan National Identity cards since the year 1979 when they started being issued by Kenya’s then President Daniel T. arap Moi (RIP) bears ID No. 0000001, and Kenya’s then Vice President Mwai Kibaki bears ID No. 0000002. Many senior Kenya Government Officials of those times who are still alive, including at least three Cabinet Ministers from those times who are still alive i.e. James Osogo, Daniel Mutinda and Nathan Munoko, still proudly announce their Kenya National ID numbers that is, “My ID No. is 0000025” or “My ID No. is 0000037.” There were not many Kenyan Cabinet Ministers in those days, so the ID numbers of Osogo, Mutinda & Munoko must lie somewhere between 0000001 and about 0000020.

There is a book of the year 1985 called “The Africans” by David Lamb which was among the banned publications in Kenya in the 1980s because it ridiculed the leadership of the 1980s all across Africa. Kenya’s then President Daniel T. arap Moi is not spared in the said 1985 book “The Africans,” no African leader of back then is. Those of us in Kenya who read “The Africans” back then in the 1980s, read it “under the cover of darkness,” for fear of being nailed by the dreaded Directorate of Security Intelligence (DSI), the dreaded “Special Branch.” This writer in particular, read “The Africans” in December 1985.

David Lamb in “The Africans” claims that the population of Whites in Kenya in 1985 was 50,000, a big number, and if this is so, then the population of Kenya’s Asians as at 1985, would have been four or five times that number which was between 200,000 and 250,000.

Many Kenyan Asians and Kenyan Whites chose to make Kenya their home long before 1979 when National identity cards began being issued, numerous Kenyan Asians and Kenyan Whites have acquired National identity cards since 1979, so why were the Makonde, originally from Mozambique, accorded official recognition as Kenyan citizens before Kenya’s Asians, and why are Kenya’s Whites not yet “officially recognised” as Kenyan citizens? Isn’t this particularly strange, ironic and absurd for a country Kenya, that produced the first African-American President of America, also bearing in mind that African-Americans are a minority in America?

In principle, there were also Asians and Whites who supported Kenya’s freedom struggle, either overtly or covertly, similar to how White “Freedom Riders” in America overtly and covertly supported the Civil Rights Movement in America in the 1960s, so it is time in Kenya that we started hearing 45 stories, the 45 stories of Kenya’s 45 tribes, not just that of the Kikuyu and/or that of Mau Mau and/or that of Dedan Kimathi.

This country of ours will never truly heal and/or will never truly move on, unless and until 45 stories are recognised and brought on board. Every one in this country counts. “Black lives matter” yes, but in Kenya it goes beyond that, “The lives of all of Kenya’s 45 tribes matter.”

No one in this country is special, and it is either 45 or we are going straight to hell, on Kenya Airways 1st Class, courtesy not of Coronavirus/COVID-19, but courtesy of we ourselves, the Kenyan people. 45 stories past and present, 45 voices, 45 combined solutions, is what it is, is what we need, is what it should be. We need each other and none of us should attempt to deceive themselves otherwise.

When do we want real change to come to Kenya? In our time or in the 22nd century? In 45 hours? In 45 months? In 450 years? In 4,500 years?

When Jomo Kenyatta was released from restriction at Maralal in Northern Kenya on 14th August 1961, he was asked by a foreign journalist at a press conference following his release when he wanted independence for Kenya, and Jomo Kenyatta famously responded “today,” two years and three months before Kenya attained independence on 12th December 1963.

In turn, when do we Kenyans, all 45 of us, want real change to come to Kenya? Today, borrowing from Jomo Kenyatta, or in the year 4,500?

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