Eliminate ethnic prejudices in public jobs

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In an article in the Standard Newspaper on November 26, 2011 Hassan Omar suggested that even if the most qualified person to be Kenya’s next president comes from the Kikuyu community, Kenyans should not elect him because Kibaki is a Kikuyu.

Hassan then implied, in an interview on Citizen TV, that if in the process of getting Kenya the first ever Inspector General of police a Kikuyu ends up as the best qualified, he would not support him.

Unfortunately his utterances are not a one-off occurrence; neither is he the only one thinking like this. A few months ago John Njiraini was disqualified from being Controller of Budget despite being the best candidate for the job… because he is Kikuyu.

Earlier in an interview for a judicial position Collins Wanderi was asked to explain why he had not picketed against the government because there were too many Kikuyus in his office – the KRA. Recently Prof Maria Nzomo was not appointed as the Chairperson of the National Gender & Equality Commission because it was suggested that she is Kikuyu (although she is not).

It seems that in Kenya today it is okay to discriminate against a person. It also seems that, like happened towards the 2007 general election, a subtle process is happening where public suggestions are being made that it is wrong for a Kikuyu to run for the presidency, or occupy public office. We all know where it took us in 2007!

Hassan is saying that even if a Kikuyu is the most qualified to be the Inspector General, Kenyans must opt for less qualified non-Kikuyu to ensure that we reduce the Kikuyus in the security service. When Parliament votes not to appoint a qualified public officer because they are Kikuyu they are essentially saying that what is important is that a non-Kikuyu takes that office, not the qualifications.

When Nelson Mandela spoke out on racism he said “I detest racialism because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a black man or a white man.” What Hassan is suggesting, and what Parliament has been doing in the guise of fighting tribalism, is tribalism! In fact there is no difference between this and going around the country saying that it is now their communities time to be President!

The solution to tribalism is not to replace Kikuyus with non-Kikuyus!

We will not eradicate tribalism by picking on Kikuyus, deciding that they are the ones to blame for the mess we are in, and kicking them out of all public offices. It did not work in 2003, it did not work in 2007, and it certainly will not work in 2012. If we attempt to do this we are back on the path to PEV, again.

The new constitution has fundamentally changed our politics. It is like the English Football League system where there is the Premier League at the very top, followed by the Coca Cola Championship League, Division One, Division Two and right at the bottom, Conference. We started at the Premier League in 1963 but our game immediately deteriorated to the extent that for many years we were playing in League One and Two only.

In 2002 we got to the Championship League, and it was exciting! Then in 2007 we played so badly we nearly got thrown out of the entire League all together!

But we are a resilient people and we picked ourselves up, polished up our game and against very great odds, in August 2010 we got back to the Premier League.

Now, we have a new constitution that makes each Kenyan Citizen an owner of our ‘football’ team. To keep our team at the Premier League and we need a ‘can-do’ attitude that starts from an understanding that we are 40 million Kenyans, not 44-plus tribes.

This attitude is what will lead us to put individuals into office, not tribes, and ensure that we hold them personally responsible when they mess, not their communities.

As we choose who wears our team colours we must also be ruthless. We cannot have any player in the team who still thinks we are a League Two team player, whatever the age, tribe, social class or religion.

This means that although Team Kenya will have players from every tribe and sector in the country, they are the kind of individuals who operate beyond ethnic prejudices, and who know that their office is about service to all Kenyans: not their tribe, religious group, gender, age, or social class.

These are the men and women we need to replace the Kikuyus, Luos, Kalenjins, Luhyas, Kambas, Tesos, Somalis, etc, in public office. One of them is whom we will elect as President. These are the people who speak ‘Kenyanese’.

To get here we need a critical mass of citizens to make sure that this team gets into office in 2012. We also need to get all the League Two players out of the team.

This is what the Siasa Mpya Network. Joining up by writing to [email protected]

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