National Cohesion

Let’s Fight Tribalism, Racism and Nepotism to Create More Jobs

Trib­al­ism, racism and nepo­tism are not just moral­ly bank­rupt world­views, they can also bank­rupt an econ­o­my. The less trib­al­ism thrives in Kenya, the more our econ­o­my will flour­ish. The more your last name stops con­tribut­ing to the oppor­tu­ni­ties that come your way, the more empow­ered you will be to con­tribute more pro­duc­tive­ly to the economy.

The same is true for racism in the US. It is pro­ject­ed that between 2019 and 2028, the wealth gap between African Amer­i­cans and Amer­i­can whites will cost the econ­o­my between $1 tril­lion and $1.5 tril­lion in lost con­sump­tion and invest­ment. It’s no won­der then that in the US, white job seek­ers are twice as like­ly to secure employ­ment dur­ing a con­sec­u­tive four-week peri­od as are black job seekers.

Just as is the case in the US racism in France is also bleed­ing the coun­try’s econ­o­my. A 2016 research dis­cov­ered that a reduc­tion of racial gaps in France would improve the coun­try’s GDP by 1.5 per­cent. In Kenya, we don’t even need empir­i­cal evi­dence to prove that trib­al­ism is destroy­ing our econ­o­my. Many Kenyans have lost job or busi­ness oppor­tu­ni­ties because of their tribes.

As researchers from the African Gov­er­nance and Devel­op­ment Insti­tute not­ed, mon­e­tary trib­al­ism which entails cir­cu­lat­ing mon­ey with­in a tribe, ends up reduc­ing inno­va­tion and inhibit­ing finan­cial development.

Come to think of it, if you will be grant­ed a ten­der or a job pure­ly because of your tribe, why should you both­er to inno­vate and com­pete in the mar­ket­place to the best of your abil­i­ty? In the same vein, if your tribe will rob you of a job or busi­ness oppor­tu­ni­ty, why should you both­er to inno­vate and com­pete in the mar­ket­place? Due to such trib­al dynam­ics, our coun­try is awash with incom­pe­tent peo­ple who are run­ning busi­ness­es or per­form­ing jobs that they are not qual­i­fied for at the expense of those who are qual­i­fied. This ends up under­min­ing our econ­o­my in grave ways that con­tribute to unemployment.

On the polit­i­cal front, trib­al­ism affects our vot­ing pat­terns and in so doing direct­ly deter­mines the qual­i­ty of our elect­ed lead­ers. These same lead­ers end up infect­ing leg­is­la­tion with the trib­al virus which poten­tial­ly affects the qual­i­ty of the laws that they pass. Indeed, stud­ies have found that trib­al­ism feeds gov­ern­ment inef­fec­tive­ness. As such, the more trib­al a coun­try, the more inef­fec­tive its gov­ern­ment will be, which will under­mine its abil­i­ty to enact and enforce job-friend­ly policies.

It is vir­tu­al­ly impos­si­ble for the econ­o­my to thrive in such a per­va­sive cli­mate of trib­al­ism. This argu­ment has been made sev­er­al­ly by researchers like Abhi­jit Baner­jee, the 2019 Nobel Prize win­ner in economics.

How­ev­er, our trib­al­ism is not inborn but is large­ly fueled by pol­i­tics. As Wal­ter Rod­ney, the great Guyanese His­to­ri­an once wrote, ‘Eth­nic dif­fer­ences exist. They are not nec­es­sar­i­ly polit­i­cal dif­fer­ences, how­ev­er. They don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly cause peo­ple to kill each oth­er. They become so-called ‘trib­al­ism’ when they are politi­cized in a par­tic­u­lar frame­work. And in post-inde­pen­dence Africa they have been politi­cized large­ly by sec­tions of the so-called African elite.’ If you read our his­to­ry books with greater scruti­ny, you will not find a sin­gle place where trib­al­ism reigned supreme in tra­di­tion­al Kenya. You will not find Luos and Kikuyus or Luhyas and Kam­bas, or any of the oth­er tribes, fight­ing great wars pure­ly on account of their dif­fer­ent tribes. In pre-inde­pen­dent Kenya, no sin­gle tribe abstained from fight­ing for inde­pen­dence because they did­n’t like anoth­er tribe. They all unit­ed in the com­mon fight of free­ing Kenya from the shack­les of colonialism.

This is the non-trib­al spir­it that we need to adopt today. Sev­en­ty five per­cent of Kenyans are young peo­ple aged 35 and below. They can be the gen­er­a­tion that will final­ly turn a blind eye on their last names and focus on their shared nation­hood. After all, where in The Bible do you read of any­one referred to with a sur­name? Nowhere! If they do so, not only shall we have a more cohe­sive and unit­ed nation, but that nation will also be more pros­per­ous with more jobs since there will be fair com­pe­ti­tion in the career and busi­ness mar­ket­place. This is par­tic­u­lar­ly crit­i­cal dur­ing this Covid-19 peri­od when more than one mil­lion Kenyans have been ren­dered job­less by the pandemic.

We must fight trib­al­ism, racism and nepo­tism not just because it is tear­ing apart our nation­al fab­ric, but because doing so will cre­ate a fair play­ing field for every Kenyan to either secure or cre­ate a job on the basis of their dili­gence and competence.

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About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Chief Stew­ard of Green Africa Group, a con­glom­er­ate that was envi­sioned in 1991 to con­nect, pro­duce and impact var­i­ous aspi­ra­tions of human­i­ty through Sus­tain­able Mobil­i­ty & Safe­ty Solu­tions, Eco­pre­neur­ship & Agribusi­ness, Ship­ping & Logis­tics, Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Ini­tia­tives, as well as Hos­pi­tal­i­ty & fur­nish­ings sectors

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