If you are following the tragic and heartbreaking news from Kenya and are not sure of what to make of it all, I recommend this excellent article by one of my heroes, Kenyan environmental/political activist and Nobel Prize receipient Wangari Maathai. (at right)
I’m especially taken by her analysis of tribal loyalties (what she calls “micro-identities”) against the broader context of Kenyan society (the “Nation State”). Indeed, the challenge of respecting diversity within a greater sense of national unity should be familiar to us all – and is an important rejoinder to those who tend to dismiss tribal conflicts as just an “African issue.”
Here’s an excerpt from Maathai’s article below. If you’d like to contribute to ongoing relief for the victims of the crisis in Kenya, click here.
Kenyans should not lose site of the fact that it has been an ongoing struggle, that goes back to the colonial period. Kenyans, and indeed all African need to embrace their micro-nationalities because they need culture, language, values and purpose. They do not have to melt into the Nation State: it is impossible anyway. Rather, they ought to consciously and deliberately work to strengthen the Nation State by bringing on board the best from their micro-nationality and enrich the heritage at the level of Nation State.
…We can make a deliberate choice to move forward together towards a more cohesive Nation State, where we can all feel free, secure, and at peace with ourselves and our neighbours. In such a Nation State there would be no need for any Kenyan to organize tribal clashes against their neighbours. The micro-nationalities would begin to see the benefits of unity in diversity.
…The rest of the leadership is all of us, playing our part wherever we are, and maintaining peace and goodwill. The international community will help us but we are the ones who must rise up and walk towards, truth, justice, healing and reconciliation. That is the path to a lasting peace.