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Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Hegemony of Tribe

The verdict is out. Kenyan voted to last week to say yes to the proposals contained in the draft constitution.

I do not want to rain on Kenya’s bold parade. But the demographics of the poll are troubling. It seems that ethnic differences accounted for large part of the decision on whether one voted for or against the draft constitution.

Among the Christian majority, it is clear that it did not matter what your pastor said God told her/him to tell you in church on Sunday. It would seem that they remembered what the politician told them about how to vote and why it was important for their ethnic community.

I am curious to know if it is true that an overwhelming majority of people in the Rift Valley province found the “abortion clause” immoral and reprehensible and that they listened not to their politicians but to their pastors.

I am equally curious to know if the Christians in Nyanza were not concerned about the fact that the constitutional provision for Islamic courts amounts to privileging Islam over Christianity or Hindu.

Maybe I am totally mistaken. The constitutional draft was about many more things than abortion and Islamic courts and it was not about pastors and ethnic high priests.

Maybe we have surmounted ethnicity and are not ethnically polarized. Maybe we have never been ethnic in our choice of political parties or which university we attend or teach in or the people we hire in our organizations.

Maybe ethnicity is just a myth or an easy explanatory narrative for a truly complex

See related article in The Economist

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