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Tribal Politics in Kenya: A Deep-Rooted Crisis

By Lucy

Tribal politics has again become a focal point of national discourse in Kenya, following President William Ruto’s stern warning to politicians against perpetuating this divisive practice. President Ruto’s concerns are realistic, given the country’s historical and ongoing struggles with ethnic polarization. However, the effectiveness of his admonitions remains a topic of debate.

The warning came in the wake of criticism directed at Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, accused by Ruto’s allies of exacerbating tribal tensions through his calls for unity within the Mt Kenya region. These allegations highlight the complex and often contradictory nature of tribal politics in Kenya, where calls for regional unity can sometimes be interpreted as exclusionary or divisive on a broader national scale.

There is no doubt that negative ethnicity polarizes communities, undermining national cohesion and fostering an environment of distrust and hostility. Political analysts contend that tribal politics is not a new phenomenon but rather an entrenched part of Kenya’s political landscape, perpetuated by those in power, including the current administration. This deep-rooted issue has been utilized historically to garner support and consolidate power, often at the expense of national unity.

While President Ruto’s warning is a step in the right direction, addressing the pervasive nature of tribal politics requires more than rhetoric. It demands a concerted effort to implement inclusive policies, promote equitable development, and foster a political culture prioritizing national interests over ethnic allegiances.

Moreover, the public’s role in rejecting tribal politics and holding leaders accountable is crucial. Education and awareness campaigns highlighting the dangers of ethnic divisiveness and the benefits of unity could help shift the national psyche away from entrenched tribalism.

In conclusion, while President Ruto’s concerns about tribal politics are well-founded, the path to overcoming this challenge is complex and requires a multifaceted approach. Only through sustained efforts and genuine political will can Kenya hope to transcend the divisions that have long plagued its political landscape.

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