The Primitive and Peculiar Mind-Set of the Tribal Kenyan Voter
A recent Korean Air marketing campaign meant to introduce flights to its new Nairobi route elicited condemnation from a cross-section of Kenyans (locals to some people) for describing our collective energies as primitive. A while ago, comments attributed to the former CEO of Safaricom Limited Michael Joseph that described our collective calling habits as peculiar also generated some passionate responses from the public.
Given my ignorance of the motivation and context behind the use of the two adjectives (primitive and peculiar) in the two scenarios above, I will reserve my comments on the same. This is because the use of these terms can have different connotations in a variety of contexts. For instance, “primitive” could be used to characterise either the savage, uncivilized, primeval nature of a subject or the simple, naïve, unschooled nature of a subject. “Peculiar” could be used to characterise either the strange, unusual, odd nature of a subject or the unique, distinct, exclusive nature of a subject.
However, assuming the simple, naïve, unschooled connotation of the term “primitive” and the strange, unusual, odd connotation of the term “peculiar”, I find the application of these two adjectives within the context of our historical political predicament quite appropriately provocative and rightly so.
With the golden jubilee just around the corner, majority poor Kenyans have little if anything to celebrate. They are still ravaged on a daily basis by preventable factors of poverty that are a direct consequence of decades of retrogressively bad leadership such as lack of access to basic healthcare services, poor housing and sanitation, poor garbage disposal and drainage systems, widespread insecurity, unmitigated joblessness, inadequate and unreliable supply of energy and clean water.
The troubling fact is that this bad leadership that has impoverished the people continues to thrive due to one major factor i.e. blind tribal loyalties leading to un-interrogated political support from the very same people who are its victims.
The people keep voting for the same corrupt politicians who have a clear history of mismanaging and misappropriating public resources and institutions thereby denying themselves access to basic public services such as decent healthcare services, decent housing, decent sanitation, adequate security and consequently perpetuating the cycle of poverty.
This irrational voting behaviour on the part of the people is as a result of deliberate manipulation and exploitation of their blind tribal loyalties by the vulture-infested political class who see public service as a call to enrich themselves rather than to serve and deliver much-needed services to the people.
But the seeming inability of the people to interrogate these blind tribal loyalties which cause the irrational voting behaviour that directly contributes to their own impoverishment points to a primitive and peculiar mind-set in the sense that one would expect a normal human being capable of reasoning in a rational manner to question the wisdom behind the historical trend of voting along tribal lines especially when such voting tendencies have proven to be counter-productive to their own individual best-interests.
The overwhelming evidence around us of wanton poverty linked to underdevelopment which is caused by poor leadership that often gets elected as a result of tribal machinations rather than merit should be enough to motivate people to change their voting patterns.
But to do so would first require the tribal voter to adopt an independent and discerning mind-set that will allow them to appreciate that tribal voting has never been about protecting community interests but the interests of a few elites and yet it is dangerously detrimental to our national interests which equally affect us all. We can do it. The time is now.
By Moses Bosire. Moses is a blogger and Mwakilishi.com contributor. He runs a blog called mkenya.org.
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I also wonder what is it that makes people vote this way? Is it the same reason why the wazungus found us backwards and primitive in the1900s? Perhaps there is something broken in African brains that no one wants to admit because of political correctness or the fact that its an inconvenient truth. It really makes no sense that in 2012 people are dying of hunger in Turkana, Kenyans are still using charcoal as their main energy source, and we are living as if we are in the stone age. Not just Kenya but the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. No wonder everyone looks down on us.
The lack of comments on such an illuminating article is quite an indicator of the fact that people still do not want to look at themselves and their voting behavior critically.
We're slowly getting there...... partly because many people have had a chance to live in more developed countries and have watched elections and systems work, secondly, I believe, intermarriages have never been this 'popular'... and many parents are now talking more positively about other tribes after seeing what hate does to everyone.... hate breeds hate... love/acceptance/tolerance breeds same.
The young; that child in your and my house, will make the difference, if we teach them right. It is easier for them too because nowadays they grow up together in estates and schools and interact much more socially.