By Koigi wa Wamwere
When I criticized Kikuyus for negative ethnicity, I did not mean to say only Kikuyus are guilty of negative ethnicity.
See part 1 of this article: Kikuyus Could Save Kenya if they Reject Negative Ethnicity
All Kenyans are sick from the disease of negative ethnicity. While many Kikuyus are guilty of feeling superior to other Kenyans, many non-Kikuyus are guilty of anti-Kikuyuism – negative ethnicity of condemning everything about Kikuyu.
More so, both Kikuyu bigots and non-Kikuyu bigots believe dawa ya moto wa ukabila ni moto (the cure for negative ethnicity is negative ethnicity). However, to eradicate negative ethnicity, both Kikuyus and non-Kikuyus must self-criticize and cleanse one another of ethnic malaise. None is their own doctor. To end hate, we must stop it from both ends.
In Kenya, negative ethnicity has two main streams. The first stream is Kikuyu’s negative ethnicity against other Kenyans. The second stream is non-Kikuyus’ negative ethnicity against Kikuyus or anti-Kikuyuism that is comparable to Anti-Semitism.
Between Kikuyus hating non-Kikuyus and non-Kikuyus hating Kikuyus, communities, and clans in same communities hate one another causing more negative ethnicity and clannism as in Somalia.
Having berated Kikuyu negative ethnicity let me explain what is wrong with anti-Kikuyuism and clannism.
Origin of Anti-Kikuyu stereotypes
As a variant of negative ethnicity, anti-Kikuyuism started as a colonial strategy of divide and rule. The colonialists designed it to subvert the struggle for independence by ensuring Africans did not unite against colonial masters.
To guarantee disunity of Kenyan communities, stereotypes evolved to demonize and make Kikuyu leadership of the struggle for independence unacceptable to other Kenyans.
Anti-Kikuyu stereotypes are as false as those of the Kikuyu against other Kenyans are. Yet, there are non-Kikuyus who believe those against the Kikuyu entirely, such as the ones below.
First, that Kikuyus did not fight for independence for the good of all Kenyans but did so to dominate and exploit other communities.
Second, that Kikuyus are greedier and love money more than the people in other communities.
Third, whether poor or rich, that every Kikuyu has benefited more than any non-Kikuyu from the regimes of Kikuyu presidents Kenyatta, Kibaki, and Uhuru.
Fourth, that like Jews, Kikuyus are incorrigible from their hate of others, and the only solution to their problem is the Final Solution or genocide.
Fifth, that Kikuyus can never accept and vote for leadership from another community.
Sixth, that politically, Kikuyus are not compatriots. They are the enemies – adui.
Seventh, that all land Kikuyus have is a gift from Kikuyu presidencies.
Anti-Kikuyu stereotypes the core of Anti-Kikuyuism.
Clearly, anti-Kikuyuism comes from Kikuyu stereotypes that lack truth but supposed collective qualities to do evil – just like the Jews.
Anti-Kikuyu stereotypes form the core of the ideology of anti-Kikuyuism. Ethnic stereotypes in general also form the core of negative ethnicity and clannism. Both constitute ideologies of all Kenyan ethnic politics, political parties, coalitions, and governments even when they claim to be governments of national unity.
Because of the all-pervasiveness of negative ethnicity in our politics, negative ethnicity drives anti-Kikuyu politics as it drives Kikuyu politics. While targets and goals of Kikuyu and non-Kikuyu politics may differ, their substance and nature are same.
Kenyans, therefore, put the same ethnic politics into power whether they elect CORD (now NASA) or Jubilee politicians. Only a third party, whose ideology is not negative ethnicity or clannism, will save Kenya.
The economic conflict between Kikuyu and non-Kikuyu communities shapes the basic nature of anti-Kikuyuism – like clannism. However, the conflict results from myths and false beliefs.
Do Kikuyus ‘eat’ from a Kikuyu presidency?
In addition to the above anti-Kikuyu stereotypes, many non-Kikuyus believe that all Kikuyus ate during Kenyatta and Kibaki presidencies and are now eating during Uhuru government.
They draw a justification from this claim to demonize all Kikuyus with qualities of Kikuyu elite. This elite is greedy and oppressive and will, like other ethnic elites, ruthlessly exploit their own and other masses.
Many poor non-Kikuyus will say they are poor because Kikuyus are rich. Yet the majority of Kikuyu people are as poor as non-Kikuyus who condemn them for their poverty.
It is true that Kikuyu elites, like other ethnic elites, ate during Kenyatta, Moi, Kibaki, and now Uhuru regimes. However, like the masses of other communities, Kikuyu masses – however convinced they are otherwise – have eaten absolutely nothing. The same applies to the majority Kalenjin masses who ate nothing but air during Moi’s presidency.
As for non-Kikuyu elites, having eaten less than Kikuyu elites have, they expect their turn to eat with every change of government.
Unfortunately, just as Kikuyus believe they cannot eat together with or must eat more than others must, non-Kikuyus must also believe, to realize their turn to eat, eating Kikuyu elites must go to create space for them. Given our ethnic capitalism, every election is a matter of life and death because they determine who will eat and who will not eat.
If communities cannot eat together, it is logical that the eating community must have the presidency. This will allow itself to allocate more jobs and resources and prevent others from eating.
Without a nationalist and patriotic leader under whom all can eat, Kenyans can only elect a president from their own community. They will loathe presidents from other communities that will not let them eat.
Why Anti-Kikuyuism flourishes among other communities
Anti-Kikuyuism flourishes among non-Kikuyus because no Kikuyu president has bothered to share the national cake equitably.
To enhance their unity for president, every community has an ethnic kingdom and a king that is at war with other ethnic kings. In this war, 41 weaker non-Kikuyu kingdoms, intoxicated with anti-Kikuyuism, unite against the strongest Kikuyu kingdom. However, this effort is no solution to Kikuyu domination or negative ethnicity.
With or without hate speech, the only way to end negative ethnicity, anti-Kikuyuism, and clannism is to admit and correct them, for children, our country, and us. All Kenyans are one. We must defend them equally against evil ideologies.