Thursday, August 9, 2012

ETHNICLESS: Does it make a difference?

By Patrick Gachau

Have you read the pianist? It is a bitter-sweet story of the great urge to live by a Polish-Jew in Warsaw when it was invaded by the Nazis. It is a twist and turn of events that leave your heart pounding, your eyes with tears and you in utter shock of how much evil man is capable of doing to a fellow man. But the most touching part is when a German soldier unexpectedly catches the protagonist. First he asks him to play the pianofor him. What a request especially if he is still
going to kill you? Then in what you would only hope for in a good movie, he lets him go! He leads him back into the attics of the house where he is hiding and even brings him food for a couple of days.
The story of the lion and a calf feeding together. An enemy decides that a fellow human being's life is worth more than the
pride of a nation. He commits an act of high treason to his president and his nation. But moreso he goes against what he had previously thought was right. He was here to eliminate the jews
then all of a sudden he realises that life is good and whatever good there is in this world is worth fighting for. A killing machine letting in the light of reason for just a second hesitates to kill and embraces the full meaning of life; in an instance.

So what is the big deal with tribes and are they evil? Though I really
don't know how to explain them,I certainly know what they are not. We are from a particular ethnic group and not from a particular tribe. And your ethnic group is that a people that you are affliated. So you could be Gusii, Dholuo, Kamba and so forth. This
however is not your tribe. Nonetheless this is what has come to be known as a person's tribe! Unlike being a boy or a girl, tribe is something of affiliation. An
experiment carried out on nature versus nurture had boys put in an
environment and raised like girls while girls were raised like boys.
Amazingly, boys avoided pink dolls and preferred black, grey and navy-blue ones instead. They proceeded to tear then into bits and laugh about it. Girls on the hand tied pink ribbons on robots and sat them on small dinner tables and spoke to them.
Something inherently inside us determines our sex. But ethnicity is different. It is all a matter of nurture. Consequently, we were born tribeless and even 'ethnicless' but society gave us one. Is this wrong? This is debatable but the fact is that if I studied about the beauty of the Jewish people there is no way this should make me hate the Germans. Unless this is the aim of
the article in the first place, to defame the other people. Similary, the more you and I embrace our ethnic background, the better we will appreciate the other people, our similarities and the differences.

So the question begs, if I was brought up not knowing my ethnic background, would this make a difference incase an ethnic dispute erupted due to some election dispute? What do you think? There is a better-sweet story shared during the election violence in Kenya. Two young gentlemen confessed they had never known what their names Kamaa and Oti ever meant and from what ethnic group they were from. They had always refered to each other as Kamaa and Oti. But when the violence began, one suddenly realized he is Luo and the other Kikuyu and this made a hell of a difference. So they faught.
So does it really make a difference? On the other end a sweet story is told of person safely hiding her neigbours in Eldoret who she clearly knew were from the 'enemy' ethnic groups; because a neighbour is more important than a distant brother. And this is what this is all
about. Whether we inter-marry or not, whether we know our ethnicity or not, people will chase
their wives who are from another ethnic group and others will safely hide a neighbour from a different ethnic group. It boils down to being truely human.

In fact, our ethnic groups help us appreciate our roots. Malcom X once told a group of blacks fighting for equity, that this is not a fight to run away from our heritage. It is one to love it. A tree
cannot hate its roots. So we can affliate ourselves with a certain
ethnic group but that a people do
not mean hating another. If we do, its due to our deficiencies. And we should not relate this to our ethnic background.

So how come there is tension and fear whenever elections approach? How come people feel targeted? Have we been brainkwashed with ideologies? Is it because our 'leaders' come from the capital city like in many African countries and tells us we are being marginalized. The thing I fail to get is how all of a sudden this becomes our problem. We humans are peculiar,thats true! But this?

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