Monday, February 04, 2008

Kenya tribalism keeps violence going

Unfortunately, the Register's editorial last week on the mostly tribal-inspired violence in Kenya is still relevant. We lament that the most primitive of self-identification, tribalism, still has such power -- and it's hardly confined to Kenya. Plenty of U.S. politicians and movements encourage tribal-like feelings among Americans. How to encourage more people to see themselves primnarily as free individuals, with their tribe, ethnicity, etc. interesting facts but not necessarily dispositive?

Aside from one statement early on, Barack Obama has said little or nothing about Kenya. His father was a member of the Luo tribe, the tribe that has considered itself dissed by the Kikuyu, who have held political and business power since independence and before. He strikes me as being close to an individual first, his heritage and experience being so mixed, but I wonder if the violence is affecting him and what he thinks about it.

1 comment:

baldilocks said...

Hi Alan,

From the beginning of the year, I have been keeping track of what's going on in Kenya, since, like Obama, I am a native-born American with an American mother and a Kenyan Luo father. (Unlike Obama, my father is still living and is, at present, in flight from his home in Kenya.)

Early last month, I documented that Obama had been in contact with Raila Odinga--leader of the Kenyan opposition--with the permission of the State Department. Odinga is Obama's cousin.

I said all that to say this: Obama may very well be keeping track of what's going on there. He's just not saying much about it. And I think that's a good move on his part, as anything said publicly could be construed as interference in foreign policy, rightly or wrongly.

J.A. Ochieng