As we draw closer to the next elections, one cannot ignore the negative tribalism tension that makes its full circle nearly every election period. But one student at the United States International University (USIU) has decided to do something about the ugly monster that cost the country 1,300 lives and 600,000 displaced people after the 2007 elections.
Sandra Kagwiria, a senior psychology student has started an anti-tribalism campaign named “Mkosa Kabila” aimed at uniting Kenyans. Sandra’s initiative is using printed t-shirts to spread the ‘one tribe’ message, first among the students then to the rest of the young Kenyans across the country. Cecilia Garama sat down with the free spirited Kenyan to learn more about the campaign.
What is Mkosa Kabila?
Mkosa Kabila basically means one without a tribe. Back in the days, if someone called you a ‘mkosa kabila’, you would have been offended. But we want to change that.
What inspired you to start the campaign?
I got the idea in my SENEX (senior experience) class when the lecturer asked why we are so proud to belong to a tribe? I couldn’t stop thinking about the question because it was true. We’re always like I’m Kikuyu, or I’m Kamba, or I’m Meru, but we always seem to forget that we’re all Kenyans at the end of the day. That’s when I got the idea to come up with a t-shirt that portrays a message of unity, especially for the youth.
What do you aim to achieve with this campaign?
Cohesion and integration. I want to make it okay for people belonging to different tribes to mix and marry and create generations of diverse Kenyans. I want to join the youths of this country together and take a stand against tribalism and I also want to make people feel comfortable with who they are.
What I want to do with mkosa kabila is the same thing the African Americans did with the word nigger. It used to be a word used to put them down, but they changed that and made it cool and hip. By doing that, they took the power away from those who used it with negative connotation. So we need to take the power away from those who use tribalism to divide this country and that’s what this campaign is aimed at achieving.
Who are you targeting with this campaign?
The youth mainly…we are daring, brave and passionate about the country, more than any politician out there. I want to create an army of activists who are going to do their best to strive for a peaceful and prosperous Kenya.
Any parting words?
Yes. When I first thought to start this campaign a lot of people told me I was crazy, however there were a select few who believed in me and I said, ‘you know what? there are always going to be haters.’ But I believe if I do my part, then at least I’ve tried. And if I don’t succeed I am going to try, try, try and try again.
For more information about the campaign, email Sandra on: [email protected]