By Wilfred Ayaga Updated Tuesday, April 28th 2015 at 00:00 GMT +3
Kenyan Ambassador to the US, Mr. Robinson Githae
A question by one of the participants during the diaspora gathering in Los Angeles, California, revealed deep-seated tribal fissures among Kenyans in the US, and underlined sentiments that Kenyans may have exported their bad habits abroad. The fissures have reportedly permeated every aspect of social life in the US, which has one of the highest concentration of Kenyans in the diaspora. Johnson Kinyua, who introduced himself during the meeting as "a Kasisi and an adjunct lecturer" opened a can of worms when he challenged organisers of the meeting to explain why those chosen to represent the diaspora at the meeting comprised people from one community. "That desk up there is well represented," said Kinyua referring to the high table. "It is very diverse, but I noted that the people who spoke today on behalf of the diaspora, there was no woman. All of them were also from one tribe. I think we need to recognise the diversity that is in the United States," he said. Seated at the high table at the time was Kenya ambassador to the US, Robinson Githae, Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore and ICT Cabinet Secretary, Fred Matiang'i. Also in attendance at the event was renowned academic Prof Ngugi wa Thiong'o. President Uhuru Kenyatta, who had been expected to attend the meeting, did not make it to the US after his plane returned home under unclear circumstances. Sentiments in the wake of the shame at the diaspora gathering revealed the divisions between Kenyans in the US. "I found it a bit embarrassing watching the Government get called out by a Kenyan in Diaspora, for what many saw as shameful tribalism. Diaspora must embrace diversity and be a guide to the motherland on what makes up the fabric of Kenya; that indeed, this garment has all the stitches that represent the tribes that make up our great country," said Mukurima Muriuki, a Kenyan living in the United States on his twitter handle. Another Kenyan said: "Kenyans are not one in the US" and that tribal feelings in the country were similar, if not worse than those experienced at home. "Tribalism is extremely serious in the diaspora. Kenyan churches and fellowships here identify with respective tribes. Parties and get-togethers the same...Kenyans per se only get together for convenience.
"And with Githae, (the ambassador) around we particularly have an indecisive ambassador. He has no discernment. If we can get cohesion and unity in the US then definitely we cannot help fight tribalism back home," said the Kenyan who lives in San Antonio, Texas. Citizen Diaspora wrote: "The tribalism in the diaspora has always been there but it was strengthened during the 2007 Kenya election and Obama's 2008 elections. US has the worst cases of imported tribalism." Anna Irungu, who lives in Seattle, alluded to the possibility that the diaspora meeting in Los Angeles may have been given wide berth by other communities. "Our local priest who pastors our church that's predominantly one tribe and himself from a different minority commented that there cannot be ill feelings where all are invited but only a certain community responds to that call..." she wrote. Githae shifted blame to organisers of the meeting for failure to take into account tribal and gender balance. "It is the associations themselves that chose the speakers, and since they sent the names to us, it is when the names came when we realised that they had chosen only men. On the issue of one tribe, it is good to speak up. I think that question can be directed to the association and ask them why when they were told to choose their representatives, they did so...It is not me. I am blameless," he said