In yesterday’s Presidential Debate in the topic of tribalism, two things emerged; that tribal voting patterns shouldn’t be an issue and secondly that the online tribal insults is a form of free speech – but I have major issues when Luos go about insulting Kikuyus (or any other tribe) online or elsewhere. I should also take offense when Kikuyus insult Luos, but at a personal level I have learnt to live past the insults. That is, the insults never get to me at all. This however wasn’t always the case.
There was a time I got excessively agitated whenever a Kikuyu hurled the kihii insult to me or another Luo, or called Raila Odinga some unprintable words, or derided the Luo community based on poverty, rate of HIV infections, or arrogance. I got hurt, but over the same period I managed not to throw insults back. Over time, I have come to consider these insults as mere words that shouldn’t affect me at an individual level.
Not all Luos have managed to hold themselves together. In retaliation, or provocation depending on your political inclination, certain Luos have taken to insulting Kikuyus – calling them jigger infested, or brown toothed, or baboons. According to those who are insulting Kikuyus online or otherwise, these derogatory words shouldn’t affect much, politically or otherwise, as, after all, the Kikuyus also insult Luos.
That’s a wrong assumption. In 2007 the Kikuyu nation voted massively against Raila Odinga, not only because Raila Odinga was painted as a warmonger, but also because he is Luo. The same thing happened in 2013. The Luo characteristic of Raila Odinga works against him in two fronts: one being the fact that his Luo followers ooze this arrogance that scare the hell from whoever would like to associate with the change Raila has consistently preached over the years, and two from the fact that certain Luos always take the early chance possible at insulting Kikuyus – doesn’t matter whether the Kikuyus were the first to hurl insults or not.
The insults aspect was made clear to me when I wrote the article, I hate Raila. In that article, I explained that one reason the Kikuyu nation hate Raila Odinga is the mythical story told to them that Raila’s main intention for ascending to power it to teach the Kikuyu nation a bitter lesson.
As much as that is a myth, Ruth Wanjiru offered an explanation why the hatred seeds planted in them while young via the myths remain even at adulthood. She wrote, “Well said regarding how the hatred is indoctrinated to young Kikuyu’s like me when we were young. Question is why it still perpetuates even in adulthood. Plain and simple , in all my arguments with a fellow Luo regarding matters politics am treated like the ENEMY who has been stealing their opportunity to rise to power. I even had good Luo friends b4 2007 who became enemies only because am Kikuyu and Kibaki apparently stole their power. That is why status quo remains. If you treat me like the ENEMY then I must be one to you. No matter what Rao says.”
From her explanation, it is very clear why the Luos should stop insulting Kikuyus, especially now that majority of the Luos would like to see Raila ascend to presidency, and this can happen easily when people like Ruth Wanjiru can be won over. This is point number one.
The second reason why Luos must stop insulting Kikuyus is the fact that there are thousands of Kikuyus who have already made their minds to vote for Raila Odinga. Some of these Kikuyus including Ephraim Njega and Faith Mutembei are not only going to vote for Raila Odinga, but are also working extremely hard day and night to influence their fellow Kikuyus to consider voting for Raila Odinga. They have even gone ahead to come up with a movement they are calling 1Milli4NasainMtKenya.
The work of these Kikuyu NASA diehards is however being made difficult by the Luos who castigate the majority of Kikuyus who have declined to warm up to NASA. In several places where a Kikuyu insists that Raila will never be President or brings up the non-development in Kibera, Luos would show up in those posts and comment negatively against the Kikuyu making those observations. Although the Kikuyu who puts up a post to either insult Raila and the Luo might never change his/her mind about Raila’s presidency, there is always another liberal Kikuyu whose interest would be to read the replies in the said post.
When the liberal Kikuyu meets a rebuttal in form of insults from the Luos, that liberal Kikuyu would easily decide not to even consider giving Raila the much hyped chance. In this elections, the Luos, by virtue that almost all of them have rallied behind Raila’s presidency on the basis that Raila is one of their own, have everything to lose.
First, Raila is making what many are seeing as his last stub to the presidency – and the race is a very close call. Whether we like it or not, a Raila presidency will break some of the chains, and will propel the Luo nation as a people who can also take up leadership and show the country what they have to offer in form of this leadership. If they lose this year, then it might take many more decades before another Luo can come close to being elected president.
Second, the Kikuyu nation have enjoyed the presidency in Jomo Kenyatta, Mwai Kibaki and now Uhuru Kenyatta. Actually, they have been the only nation other than the Turgen that have led this country. Thus, even if they lose this elections, they surely don’t have anything in form of national dignity to lose. They can therefore hurl insults as much as they like without losing anything in turn.
Now that the Kikuyu nation is coming at an advantage, it is up to the Luo nation to swallow the humble pie and take the higher ground of humility, kindness, and dignity. When the Kikuyu insult you on the basis that you are a Luo, do not retaliate buy insulting Kikuyus back, but offer sober reasons why you think the Kikuyu is wrong, or why Raila deserves the presidency.
And to the liberal Kikuyus who would like to support Raila but the behaviours of the Luos are repellant, also take the higher ground and reason beyond the insults. The future of the country is more important than your feelings when some unreasonable Luo calls a Kikuyu jigger infested.