Kenya: Is There Such a Thing As Kenyan Identity?

By IndepthAfrica
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Nov 11th, 2012
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opinion
By Colins Mabinda,The Star

I have been pondering long and hard why is it that Kenyans often follow their tribal leaders with such mindless zeal, even when all indications are that we are being led to a slaughter house.

I think I now know the answer. It’s that there is simply no Kenyan identity to rally Kenyans around a single clarion call. Think about it, no one reminds you of your tribe, or you being an African.

Somehow, these things are often second nature. It’s the reason why when one African country has been left to compete in the world cup, all of us support the team,and equally feel the pain when the team is vanquished – remember the Luiz Suarez handling of the ball in the 2010 world cup,when all indications were that the ball was going in.

It left almost all Africans dejected as Ghana were denied a chance to be the first African nation to reach the World Cup semi finals.

I can’t imagine how an English fan would support a French or a German national team, even if any of the two teams was the only European team left in the World Cup.

Everyday, those who have the country at heart remind us to think as Kenyans, which we never seem to do. My humble suggestion would be that we should rapidly identify what we mean by being a Kenyan.

We could say that we are the home of athletic champions, but so do other countries like Ethiopia. We could say that we are the home of the famed Wildebeest migration, but Tanzania too is keen to share in that spotlight, and has been burning up the bushes around Serengeti to make sure the wild animals do not cross over to the Maasai Mara.

In crafting an identity, we would not be the first to do so. Tanzanians are famously known for their ‘undugu’, South Africa is known as a rainbow nation, Germans are known for their flawless German machines, Britons for their formality, and Japan for their efficient factories.

In a single word, could you say what Kenya is known for? If you can’t, then as one line in a great movie says, “Houston, we have a problem”.

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