sunday editorials that I liked

As usual, Mutahi Ngunyi has a provocative piece in the Sunday Nation. I am sort of sympathetic to his idea of ethnic suicide (by which he means dumping ethnic identities and what they stand for) – I was in Eldoret and Timboroa for two days this summer and saw with my own eyes the fruits of ethnic hatred. The short-term operationalization of the idea may be problematic though. To make Kenyans out of Luos and Kikuyus and Kalenjins will take time. Because of this the process of “ethnic suicide” ought to take place sub-consciously, for if it is “managed” the end results or the process itself may be nasty.

Gitau Warigi pours some cold water on Bethuel Kiplagat’s TJRC. I like his argument. I am always baffled by how much we spend on such useless commissions only to be rewarded with “classified reports” issued to the president.  Philip Ochieng‘ has an interesting piece on ethnicity and politics in Kenya. I wonder how many politicians read his column… And Kwendo Opanga just gave me one more reason to think that Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka is as misguided as ever. This is not to say that the alternatives to Mr. Musyoka in the post-Kibaki dispensation are any better. Woe unto Wanjiku.

And in other news, is this legitimising crime or what?

Kalonzo disappoints, again

Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka is an embarrassment to Kenya. It is most disturbing when someone of his stature decides to play the ethnic card over the sacking of a government employee (In this case Dr. Eng. Kioko Mang’eli, former MD of the Kenya Bureau of Standards). I mean he is the Vice President of the Republic of Kenya. He is part of the same government that sacked the dude! Does he know this?? Why do we let our leaders get away with this sort of blatant tribalism?

Macharia Gaitho puts it best in today’s Daily Nation:

Why then, should Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, MP Johnstone Muthama and other two-bit politicians lower themselves to claim that Dr Mang’eli’s sacking was part of a push against their Akamba folk in the public service? Nobody ever told us that the Dr-Eng’s appointment in the first place, had anything to do with his being Mkamba!

some practice in bad statistics

I just read a piece in the technology section of the Times which made me wish I had taken more statistics classes in college  (beyond the requirements for my econ degree). I think it is a good thing that the field is gaining prominence and I hope that it will spur an interest among governments the world over in scientific governance – a deliberate effort by governments to know the wants and needs of their populace and to respond to the same, of course toned with the occasional nudge in the right direction (I am a believer in soft paternalism, just fyi).

I also read a piece by my favorite Thursday columnist, Onyango-Obbo, of the Daily Nation. One of the points raised in the piece is that more urbanite and educated Kenyans are more likely to be “tribal” than rural folk. This is based on a study done some years back that showed that educated Kenyans in the towns and cities were more likely to be conscious of their ethnic identities than poor farmers and fishermen. Mr. Onyango-Obbo’s conclusion was therefore that education and exposure to other cultural communities does not help the anti-tribalism fight on the Continent.

I beg to differ. Educated people, and those exposed to other ethnic groups, are obviously more aware of their ethnicity. I became more aware of my being African when I arrived in New Haven, CT than when growing up in Kenya. Being exposed to “others” gets you thinking about your own identity. The question should be whether this emergent tribalism among educated Kenyan urbanites was negative or benign (like the kind of drive that made me read Ogot’s History of the Southern Luo for the first time in college). On this score my gut instinct tells me that the more exposed and well educated Kenyans are less likely to kill their neighbors simply because they speaks a different language. On the contrary, it is the rural folk who still imagine people from other parts of the country to be evil barbarians and intruders. Just look back to Kenya’s post-election violence of early 2008. Bloodshed occurred most prominently among the less educated and provincial Kenyans while well to do middle class Nairobians watched it all in shock on the BBC.