There is nothing like tribes in North Eastern Province (NEP) that can warrant tribalism. What is a tribe? According to Wikipidia, "The social structure of a tribe can vary greatly from case to case, but, due to the relatively small size of customary tribes, social life in those kinds of tribes usually involves a relatively undifferentiated role structure, with few significant political or economic distinctions between individuals. Tribalism implies the possession of a strong cultural or ethnic identity that separates one member of a group from the members of another group. Members of a tribe tend to possess a strong feeling of identity"
Based on this definition, I think it's safe to say that there is only one tribe in NEP, that is, the tribe Somali- Kenyan Somali, Somali Kenyan, call them what you will.
What we have are clans.
Clanism has always been termed as the major stumbling block to the achievement of unity in the restive North Eastern Kenya. The never-ending story that is "tribal clashes" and violence have both been blamed on ethnicity, but is tribalisim the major problem behind our disunity? I don’t think so.
Clannism and nepotism will finish this region as we talk of “my tribe”. Devolution has made politics more local and violent than ever. Thanks to devolution, we can now clearly tell where the problem with our region is as far as cohesion and integration are concerned. If a fellow clansman can draw a gun with the aim of harming another clansman to settle a political dispute, then tribe - hope you still remember the tribe we are talking about- has no meaning. If clannism was the major obstacle to peaceful co- existence, why then do we hear of brothers - men and women of the same clan - 'killing' one another over county jobs? Why are we witnessing unending clashes among members of the same clan? It happened before devolution. It can happen anytime.
Many experienced and knowledgeable professionals from the region, some working for the national Government and others in the corporate sector do not apply for jobs in the region due to what they term as vicious clan squabbles. And you talk of underdevelopment? Who will develop the restive NEP if you don't pacify it? Whose kids and wives want to live in such 'uncivilized' culture?
For one to work in these devolved units, a lot of importance is placed on clan and family, and whether they supported the governor in the last general election. Some even applied through the so called Council of Elders -an entity that is not recognized by any law as far employment and recruitment are concerned. Yes, we respect our culture but the elders of our world do not deserve our respect. They belong to the highest bidder and are very partial. Elders of them days were highly respected because of their wisdom and impartiality.
In the last general election, members of the same family supported different candidates. That is democracy! Must they pay for it? To paraphrase Isaac Asimov, there is a cult of ignorance in North Eastern, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.
This has seen unqualified people who are loyal to politicians in the counties take up senior positions. No wonder some of our counties are unable to prepare annual budgets for approval by the controller of budget. Our MCAs make matters worse. Those from big clans - there has never been anything big about our clans - plot among themselves on whom chief officers, Clerks or County Executives they want impeached on frivolous grounds due to the devolved tyranny of numbers in the county assemblies, as witnessed in Garissa and Wajir counties recently. All they need to do is cook up something irregular about the officer’s conducts, prepare a censure motion and throw him or her out. This has made working for the county governments risky.
The Kabaro led National Cohesion and Integration Commission should now re- focus its energy from tribalism to clannism and nepotism and help the people of North Eastern know how to share their share of the national cake amicably.
The unqualified fellows in our counties have turned out to be the unofficial spokespersons of the counties in social media. They spew venom and 'tackle' accordingly all those who question about the misuse of power and the scarce resource that is our 'fair' share of the national cake. We do not blame them. They are idle most of the time. Nevertheless, they draw salaries.
Am privileged to know a few men and women who are above our new cancer - nepotism. They reward meritocracy.