I am disappointed in my father’s generation. In the generation that has taught most of my peers what we know and the beliefs we hold close. I am displeased by their preaching without action. That they have the audacity to tell of peace and prosperity when we saw first-hand what they did in the 2007-2008 aberrations that cost many their lives and had my fellow country people affected.

I am discontented by the words of my leaders when they say that we are united yet I still see people politically affiliated according to their own tribe. No…I was told it is “ethnic group” now, because tribe is too brute a word. I am saddened terribly when I still see a grandma being cruel to a daughter in-law because she does not belong to the same tribe as them. Yes…for this article, I will use this god forsaken word, if only to open the eyes of my father’s generation.

I have lived only two decades on this earth, but I have seen my fair share of this disgrace. When a father passes on and children are chased away from the only home they have known because their mother is not one with the community of her belated. When a woman is stripped of her inheritance because her late husband’s people own it and she does not belong to the tribe. When lovers are forced to live star crossed lives simply because they have different tribal customs.

It is not right. I believe it is not right that our parents have upheld this vice and yet we still continue with it like it is second nature.It is not right that we have the capacity to embrace one another regardless of their geographical birthplace, but still have to think of what our parents will say when we take home a best friend for a sleepover and their last name is not satisfactory. It is not right. And I know many will disagree with me, but look around my friends, and tell me if I am wrong.

Tell me that employment does not still rely on where one is from. Tell me that first class treatment is given to people from the lake region in the central part of this country. Tell me that my aunts and uncles from the same central part can comfortably flash their identity cards in the lake region while there on holiday. It has gone to as far as my tribe having a name specifically for the other. I am owning up to this disrespect today. They call them “Okuyus”… And yes…it may sound like a privilege, like at least they get some recognition in the other part of the nation, until you hear it in a sentence, used by an old mama, saying how the “Okuyus” have robbed the land of all its provisions. It is still not right. My father’s generation has failed us.

Now, they did try to do something about this. They taught us to forget about our tribes. To forget the parts that define us first. That one part that, even without our names, we already belonged to. This generation of masters of pretense taught us to forget where we come from. Right now, if one of my friends is randomly asked, “And hey, what ethnic group are you?” the first thing, the first instinct, is usually to ask “Why?” Why would a stranger want to know where I am from? What intentions do they have? They could be having a hidden agenda…so we have trained ourselves to turn defensive when this question is first asked.

After this, comes the disillusion that we have fed ourselves. Since the question Why is not satisfactory an answer, and the stranger could most definitely go on to probe so as to find out more, we have adapted an answer that is so outrightly outrageous, I wonder why it is not fitted right after The Wildebeest Migration in the “Seven New Wonders of the World”. We have taught ourselves to say “I am Kenyan”. My generation has become so gullible as to name my country a tribe, and this upsets me.

We have been deceived, deluded and made a mockery of by our parents and their parents. We have grown up believing a lie. We are not of the tribe Kenya, but of that one Great Nation that comprises of 42 amazing tribes that we should be proud of. Some of us have been given white man names and lack the identity of their tribes. Children grow not knowing the language of their fore fathers and are out here claiming to not belong to any “ethnic group”. Claiming to be “Kenyans”…but that is not true. We lack a sense of identity because our fathers’ generation has made it so. We have no sense of belonging or fulfillment in our backgrounds. It breaks my heart to know that if only we were raised to know that all tribes are amazing and exotic in their own way, then maybe, just maybe, we could have grown up appreciating one another the way it should have been.

But sadly, my father’s generation has shortchanged us.

-Awuor M




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