Mutahi Ngunyi: My Argument in Support of Ethnic Suicide

(Posted on October 25, 2009 – from

Last week my readers corrected me. They told me that the ‘‘ahoi’’ are not only in Gema. You find them in every community. And I agree. In the tribe, the ‘‘ahoi’’ are subjects, not citizens. When their masters ask them to jump, they do not ask why.

They ask how high! This is why the political support of some leaders borders on religion; the opium of the masses. And on this, I blame the ‘‘subjects’’. Although our leaders are zero, their followers are worse. I do not understand why the Luo ‘‘ahoi’’ are slaves to ‘‘Odingaism’’.

What is the benefit except chains? Similarly, I am lost with regard to the Kalenjin Nation. Now they have made Mr William Ruto their tribal ‘‘King’’. And then there are the “ahois” of Gema I spoke about last week.

On his part, Mr Ruto claims to be self-made. He is proud of this. Yet a self-made man is nothing but a work of unskilled labour! Unguided, he is a disaster. My point? The tribe is a prison of collective consciousness.

And its leaders are warlords of sorts; aggressive to the outside world, oppressive to the inside world. In sum, we cannot change the country without changing the tribe. The Luo ‘‘ahoi’’ must liberate themselves from the shackles of ‘‘Odingaism’’ for national liberation to happen.

Similarly, the Kalenjin must free themselves from the ‘‘green-horn politics’’ of their young leaders. And likewise the Gema “ahoi”. But how does this happen? Consider some thoughts.

Politics is about “… who gets what, when and how”. It is about ‘‘getting’’. If you ‘‘get’’ nothing from it, do nothing about it. In economic language, we call this ‘‘quid pro quo’’ or ‘‘mali kwa mali’’.

Similarly, ‘‘politics is perception’’. And the perception that the tribe is a beneficiary of politics is a fat lie. In fact, the tribe is a myth. To the contrary, good politics is personal; bad politics is about ‘‘group think’’.

Dictatorship thrives on ‘‘mob psychology’’, democracy is about individuality. In other words, the individual is more important than the group. And for us to overcome our national darkness, we must retreat to the personal away from the groupies. Allow me to expound with a story I read this week.

A boy was walking on the beach with his father when they saw a man fishing. Getting closer, the boy noticed a bucket full of live crabs. To his surprise, the bucket was not covered. And so he asked his father “why hasn’t the man covered the bucket? Won’t the crabs escape? ”

“You see, my son,” the father explained, “if you have only one crab in the bucket, it will crawl out so fast you will not catch it. But when the crabs are many, if one tries to escape, the others will pull it down to the bottom of the bucket. This way, they all share in the misery and in the ultimate fate.”

We are all in a bucket called tribe. And the fisherman is the ‘‘tribal king’’. So long as we are together in the bucket, we are enslaved. But if we are put in the bucket as individuals, we will escape with speed. This is why we must reject tribe as our unifying factor and organising ideology. Instead, we should act in self interest.

Besides, Kenya is you, your woman and your children. Period. Everyone else, including the beloved ‘‘tribe,’’ is a material lie. Or is it? Allow me now to flip my argument. The Luo tell us this; “… if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go with others”.

And in search of others, the most familiar people are those of our tribe. Yet the tribe is never about the future. It is about a shared history; a common heritage. It gives a false sense of belonging, but it rarely feeds your children. This is why I call it a material lie. My proposal to the country therefore is this: We should all commit ethnic suicide.

For the ‘‘ahoi’’, poverty and not tribe is the denominator. If the Kalenjin or Kikuyu ‘‘ahoi’’ are arming themselves, therefore, it should not be to harm the poor. It should be to fight poverty and those who entrench it.

But committing ethnic suicide has another two benefits. One, we will be able to see things as they are. Not as we are. Currently, the country is sober. But once Mr Moreno Ocampo lands, the polarities will emerge. Similarly, we have no views about the constitution. But what the politicians will oppose is what we will follow.

But with ethnic suicide, we will become human beings not tribal animals. Instead of supporting the politicians over the constitution, we will make a constitution for our children. And this is why we should listen to the church over the ‘‘stabilisation reforms’’. Our tunnel vision is limiting us on this matter.

Two, ethnic suicide will jump-start the process of healing. According to the ‘‘Law of Nature’’, something must die for the new to emerge. And nothing illustrates this better than the metamorphosis of a butterfly. After the egg hatches, it begins life in the ‘‘pupa’’ stage before entering the ‘‘larva’’ stage as a caterpillar.

Then the caterpillar weaves a silky cocoon around its body, suspends itself on a leafy branch and takes a long deep, deep sleep. Warmed by the sun, and protected from the rain, it waits. Then, one day movement occurs and a butterfly emerges. After drying its new wings in the morning breeze, it takes off into the air.

In each of the stages, something dies. But no loss is experienced because something new, even better, emerges. And this is what nature is calling us to do for Mother Kenya. Something must die for the new to emerge. Are we ready for this? My name is Mutahi Ngunyi, citizen number 4855678, and I will commit ethnic suicide for the love of Kenya!

Mutahi Ngunyi is a political scientist with The Consulting House, a policy and security innovation think-tank for the Great Lakes Region and West Africa.

One thought on “Mutahi Ngunyi: My Argument in Support of Ethnic Suicide

  1. Corruption begins in the mind. You can caghne people and system but if you do not caghne minds the caghne will just be temporary. The hurtful truth is- we have seen the corruption and gotten used to it and unconsciously; even those who do not participate directly have been corrupted in the minds by the sheer fact that they see it and it does not bother them because they are not the ones involved. A field does not suddenly become overgrown with thorns and weeds, but a little abandonment in a day that turn into years then the bush is large to remove.Sometime it feels like this is the card’ that the Africans were dealt with but to believe and accept this- is to resign that we cannot do anything about it. On the contrary, if we take an example of Michuki Law’ in Kenya that became effective when he was transport minister, we can deduce that where there is good will it is possible to wipe out corruption. If one minister opposed by Cartel and some powerful people can pull this through – imagine what a government committed to wipe out corruption and supported by the people can do!!!

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