Thursday, 19 June 2014

Just be Kenyans, Makau Mutua tells the Akamba as he blasts Kenyan tribal groupings in the Diaspora

Distinguished State University of New York law preofessor and outspoken Kenyan columnist, Makau Mutua addresses leaders of the Akamba Association in New England in hard hitting speech against Diaspora tribal groups during the second annual Akamba Cultural Festival of New England held at the Best Western Hotel in Woburn, near Boston.
By Harrison Maina,, Wednesday June 18, 2014
WOBURN-- Distinguished SUNY Professor and outspoken Kenyan law scholar, Makau Mutua blasted tribal based Kenyan Associations in the Diaspora, indicating that they help perpetuate tribalism in the pretext of bringing “their people together for development”.

  The renowned scholar, also a widely read columnist instead urged such organizations to join together with others to form Kenyans Associations that would bring all Kenyans together irrespective of their ethnic backgrounds.

Professor Mutua was speaking Saturday during the second annual Akamba Cultural Festival of New England held at the Best Western Hotel in Woburn, near Boston.

“I don’t like to speak to tribal groups. The problem we suffer is that we segregate ourselves in communities and ethnic groups. I don’t feel very Kamba as it does not mean very much to me. The thing you could do is to form a Kenyan organization,” he told challenged Mutua leaving about 100 Kamba’s and friends gathered dismayed at the unexpectedly tough speech.

He said that when he received the invitation as a guest speaker at the second annual Akamba in the USA celebration, he did not know what to say, so he resorted to calling Dr. Willy Mutunga, a fellow Kamba and the current Kenyan Chief Justice for advice.

 “He told me to tell you to strive to be Kenyans. Just Be Kenyans,” emphasized Mutua, a Dean at the Bufallo Law School, The State University of New York.

He added that the chief justice, though being a Kamba, had completely refused to ethicize the office of the Chief Justice, regardless of the fact that the first chief justice of Kenya, was also from the Kamba tribe.

He said that the problems that Kambas in the USA and other tribal groupings have   is the same problem dogging Kenya, causing so much polarization along ethnic groups competing for control and supremacy.

“I have a problem with the AKamba. But I also have a problem with Kenya,” he said while pulling no punches.
He added that tribalism in Kenyan have almost brought the country to it’s knees having penetrated all areas of government and everyday life by ordinary Kenyans.

 He said that Kenyans and Africans in general will only enjoy a higher standard of co-existence when they agree to unite as one nation while putting the tribal allegiances in the back burner.

 Using Tanzania as a good example of a nation where all tribes co-exist with harmony, Mutua said that he spent four years in Dar-Es Salam as a political refugee in the 80’s and no one ever asked him of his tribal  background in order to figure out how to treat him.

Makau Mutua
“They don’t have the politics of inclusion or exclusion based on one’s tribe.But if you go to a function in Nigeria, you will see Ibo’s sitting in one corner, Yorubas in the other. If you go to Kenya, the moment you mention your name, you are either included or excluded in something based on your tribe,” he added painfully.

Mutua added that the problem with Kenya and other African Nations is the lack of consciousness and ideas on what makes a nation where people can enjoy better living without exploitation by others next to them. He challenged Kenyans to promote the generation and discussion of ideas among themselves and the upcoming youth that can help make Kenya a better nation of people who can stand up for what is good for them.

“Just because you have a country, a nation, a state does not mean that you have a nation. A Nation requires a national consciousness of it’s own idea.”

He cited the USA as a well-functioning nation because the founders had great ideas that were put into action, attracting people from all over the world who want to experience and live those ideas.

“The idea of freedom, individual liberty etc is a very seductive idea. That is why people from all over the world struggle to come to America.”

 Unfortunately, Mutua added, in 2007, Kenyans destroyed themselves because they could not see themselves as a nation but rather as tribes.

The scholar said that tribalanimosity was not a problem in the African communities until the colonial masters came and divided people along ethnic lines and created borders that divided hitherto harmoniously coexisting Africans.
“100 years ago, there was no Kenya.Kenya is a total creation of the British.Even the name Kenya itself was coined by the British,” said the renowned lawyer to the amazement of guests.

However, during a Q&A session, it was Mutua’s time to get shocked when he learnt that there is indeed a Kenyan organization in Boston like he was advocating for but members of the smaller tribes had kept away from joining or participating in events organized by the organization claiming it is run primarily by members of the majority Kikuyu tribe.

Mutua suggested that leaders of the smaller tribal associations be invited to take a role in the wider Kenyan association.

Upon hearing the leaders of the Kamba, Luo and Luhya communities in Boston had all turned down multiple invitations to join the New England Kenyan Association (NEKWA),Mutua let out a sigh of despair, saying, “if Kenyans don’t want to be united, let them say so and we can all know that we will live separately.”

Defending the smaller tribes seclusion into their tribal Associations and churches, Pastor Joseph Mithiga charged that many Kenyan community churches in Boston conduct their services in Kikuyu, making other tribes feel excluded.

Mutua receives an award from Akamba in New England Association (ANEA) president, Caroline Musyimi.
However, in a sharp rejoinder, Mutua dismissed pastor Mithiga’s contention in a rejoinder, saying, “If that is what they are doing, it is not right. If you are preaching to me and then you exclude me based on my tribe or other factors, then you are not preaching the real God. But it is also wrong for you to do the same. If you find someone taking a bad medicine that will kill them, would you follow suit and take the same?.”

In the New England region, Kenyans from smaller tribes have recently organized themselves into tribal groupings that hold annual meetings every summer.

 Among the include the Akamba Association, the Luo Association and the Luhya Association that will host a 2014 Luhya Association celebration coming up on September 6.

The groups were born out of the widely hyped tribal celebration days started by Bishop Joshua Wambua, pastor of the Rapture Harvest Church International in Wakefield.

 Around 2008, Bishop Wambua held a series of Kikuyu day, Kamba Day, Luhya Day whose mission, according to the pastor, was to celebrate the cultural diversity among Kenyans in Boston.

 After two years however, the celebrations at the church fizzled out, culminating into the formation of the current tribal associations with the exception of the Kikuyus who did not want to form an exclusive Kikuyu Association.

During the Akamba celebration, Wambua wondered how Kenyans can celebrate their tribal diversity without promoting tribalism as it currently appeared.

“Even in heaven, we are told we will reunite with the 12 tribes of Benjamin, each of whom had specific gifting necessary for the existence of the nation of Israel.”

Mutua advised the Akamba Association president, Caroline Musyimi to look into ways to join with other Kenyans to promote a united community from which all tribes can friend a common platform to be celebrated by all.

He commended efforts by NEKWA to bring all Kenyans in the region together despite the existing opposition and lack of support.

He added that he would like to be invited by NEKWA to return to Boston for a meeting that will involve only those leaders and Kenyans who have genuine interest of unity at heart.

Leaders of the Luhya Association, led by Patrick Inyangwa also attended the festival. Other speakers at the event included Dr. Ebenezer Kilonzo , an international motivational and inspirational speaker and Richard Pertet, a businessman from Pennsylvania.

Musyimi, the association president, however thanked Mutua for attending the event and providing a sobering assessment of the tribal situation.

The event, was attracted Kambas from as far as Houston Texas, Seattle Washington, Pennsylvania as well as other states.

Guests were treated to sumptuous Akamba ethnic delicacies, a Kamba fashion show; music performance by Boston based gospel artist, YvoneMakilya, as well as Kamba music entertainment by the Jamhuri Live Band.
For comments or to add to this conversation, click here >>> for Facebook comments, click here >>>

More pics coming soon. Watch this space!

No comments:

Post a Comment