opinionBy Koigi Wa Wamwere
Nairobi — As Kenya implements the new Constitution and constructs majimbo politics, economies and cultures which we cannot embrace and simultaneously reject ethnic divisions, negative ethnicity is the dragon we must slay or perish.
To extricate ourselves from the grip of negative ethnicity, we must not only understand how it misrules us, but also how it captures our minds as the ideology of our new Constitution, politics, journalism, majimbo, education and even religion.
But to understand it, we must define the term. The ideology of negative ethnicity is a mindset that claims some ethnic communities are superior and deserve more resources, while others are inferior and deserve less.
The chief function of negative ethnicity is to bind us with our community by antagonising us with other communities, but its ultimate goal is to eliminate others culturally, politically, and eventually, physically. Negative ethnicity does not come to us with a war-cry against other communities.
It approaches us only as a friend and an ally, merely eager to secure the survival of our ethnic community from the threat of other ethnic species. Ostensibly, ethnic survival is never threatened by our own ethnic elites. But negative ethnicity preserves us for their exclusive exploitation through exclusion of exploitation by other elites!
Disarmed by an exaggerated need for ethnic survival, we embrace our own exploitation, and are misused as cannon fodder by our ethnic elites in their wealth accumulation and wars with other elites. Normally, we are born into innocent ethnicity, neither for nor against anybody.
Thereafter, we begin to demonise other communities and become perpetrators of negative ethnicity. When we are victims of demonisation, we seek refuge in redemptive or positive ethnicity. The ideal, however, is innocent ethnicity that embraces national identity and subordinates itself to patriotism.
Functionally, negative ethnicity infects our minds, eyes, ears and hearts, orienting them to reason, see, hear, love or hate ethnically. As it spreads everywhere like wildfire, many believe it is invincible and wiser to join than fight it. But people who embrace negative ethnicity also deny it. Like a cockroach, it thrives best in the dark.
After becoming the ideology of our politics, negative ethnicity has captured and devoured the heart of the nation. Indeed, its power to subvert, corrode and replace is awesome.Kenyans are no more, only Kikuyus, Luos and Kambas are left. Patriotism is no more. There is only ethnic patriotism. And Kenya itself is no more. Ethnic homelands have taken over.
Once leaders go ethnic, the parties, alliances, manifestoes or governments they make are only for furthering ethnic divisions, discrimination and majimbo. Motored by negative ethnicity, the referendum could only birth an ethnic constitution, ethnic distribution of resources, ethnic homelands and ethnic claims to ancestral lands from one another.
The python of negative ethnicity has also ensnared, captured and swallowed our schools, institutions of higher learning and universities only to give the nation robots, propagators and parrots of negativism.
Made from the same clay, negative ethnicity is more than an ally of corruption. It breeds its own graft that it defends fiercely among all communities.To perpetrate its corruption, negative ethnicity has eaten into the private sector just as it has the public sector.
Hence top managers and ministers employ from their tribe, and from their kith and kin. Negative ethnicity is a terminal cancer whose cells mutate from tribe to clan, family, region and even brother, making its cure impossible outside the prescription of Jesus: "If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out . . . ."
Negative ethnicity leads to war, genocide and ruin of individuals, communities and nations. Ironically, as others celebrate nuclear weapons for self-defence, Africans boast of the negative-ethnicity bomb, but for how much longer? To end negative ethnicity, its victims must fight its persecution, beneficiaries its favours and we must urge ourselves to reject it, as we ask others to do the same.
Mr Wamwere is the author of "Towards Genocide In Kenya: The Curse of Negative Ethnicity."