What you need to know:
- It is openly rumoured that President Museveni has for many years harboured the dream of becoming the first President of the EAC Federation.
- There is no better time than now for his NRM to join hands with Odinga’s NRM to hasten the dissolution of Kenya.
What would happen if Kenyans, fed up with the ethnic division in their society, woke up one day and opted for dissolution rather than devolution of their country? This is the rather interestingly weird question that came to my mind after reading Daniel Kalinaki’s article about the post-election situation in Kenya. (See, ‘Kenyatta answers critics, but Raila’s boycott raises interesting questions’ in Daily Monitor of November 2).
Mr Kalinaki mentioned options that could present themselves to Opposition politician Raila Odinga, whose National Super Alliance (Nasa) was changed overnight to a National Resistance Movement (NRM).
He stated: “One option is to continue pressing for electoral and political reforms and peaceful protests while keeping Nasa (or NRM) as a progressive national movement …. Or he can … rally for secession of the Luo Nation and other smaller minority groups that feel excluded. This would unbundle the European colonial entity that is Kenya…” I lived and worked in Kenya between 1986 and 1992. Everything that I now watch on television and read in the papers seems a déjà vu(ish) replay of what I experienced. The dilemma that Raila faces today is somewhat similar to the one his father, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, faced many years ago.
That renders Kalinaki’s rhetorical option number two almost closer to the ideal thing Kenyans should do to put to rest the ethnically energised demons in their society once and for all. The ideal thing, however, would be for Kenyans to disperse to the neighbouring countries of the East African Community (EAC) on the basis of their ethnic composition and history.
There are more than 70 distinct ethnic groups in Kenya. But these can be collapsed into three broad linguistic groups: Bantu, Nilotic and Cushite. This division would make it pretty easy to reverse the monstrously arbitrary colonial mapping that saw artificial boundaries drawn up in Europe, practically putting some families in two different countries.
A while ago, we had a Cabinet minister known as Aggrey Awori, whose brother Moody Awori, was a vice president in Kenya. What would have happened if a war erupted between Kenya and Uganda over a disputed border territory in Busia where the Aworis hailed from?
By dissolving Kenya, the Kikuyu, Kamba, Kisii, Mijikenda, Meru, Embu, Kuria, Mbeere, Taita, Pokomo, Taveta and other Bantu tribes of Kenya could become part of the Bantu peoples of Uganda spread across the central and western sub-regions of our country.
One particular grouping of the Kenyan Bantu, the Luhyas – with its sub-tribes of Bukusu, Maragoli, Wanga, Banyore, Tiriki and Isukha – could have a natural home among the peoples of Bugisu and Bukedi sub-regions. We should also note that the Nilotes, who form the second most populous linguistic group in Kenya, trace their common origin to South Sudan. They came down from the Nile Valley via Uganda to Kenya.
So the Kalenjins, the largest Nilotic tribe of Kenya and its sub-tribes such as Kipsigis, Nandi, Pokot, Keiyo, Sabaot and Tugen would just be coming back home in the Sebei sub-region or parts of South Sudan. The Luo, the second largest Nilotic tribe in Kenya, has kith and kin in Acholi, Lango, Nebbi and other sub-regions of Uganda.
Similarly, the cattle-keeping Turkana and Samburu are related to the Karimojong of Uganda and other pastoralist tribes of South Sudan. Together these tribes sit on the greatest potential of animal wealth in the world (calculated per capita)! See how Europeans kept us poor by fragmenting us?
Interestingly, the Teso, the other major Nilotic grouping of Kenya, are active ‘subjects’ of Papa Emorimor Augustine Osuban, the Iteso Cultural Union leader. The Iteso of Kenya and Uganda all pledge their cultural loyalty to the Emorimor. Let our inacan (brothers) come home. And the Maasai of Kenya could become part of a larger Maasai community in Tanzania. As for the Cushites of Kenya, history indicates that they originated from Southern Ethiopia. The Kenyan Somalis constitute the largest tribe in this ethnic group. So, naturally they could be absorbed in either Somalia or Ethiopia (especially for those fearful of al Shabaab attacks).
Finally, many of the coastal peoples of Kenya, especially in Mombasa County, trace their origins to the early Arab trade movements. They are close to some of the peoples of Zanzibar and Pemba Islands. Overall, this may be an excellent time to reject our history as written by Europeans. There is necessity for us to retrace our common heritage as one way of addressing some of the ethnic challenges we face.
Dr Okodan is the Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences and Management Studies at Kumi University. [email protected]
It is openly rumoured that President Museveni has for many years harboured the dream of becoming the first President of the EAC Federation. There is no better time than now for his NRM to join hands with Odinga’s NRM to hasten the dissolution of Kenya.
Dr Okodan is the Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences and Management Studies at Kumi University.