Bethwel Ogot at his home in Yala, Siaya County on March 18,2017 during a memorial service of his wife the late Grace Ogot. (Photo: Denish Ochieng/ Standard)
The ongoing political campaigns which have narrowed to sub-clans, could worsen Kenya’s ethnicity woes and balkanise the country into smaller but dangerous political cocoons, renowned historian Professor Bethwel Ogot has warned.
Prof Ogot warns that if the trend is not reversed, Kenyans might soon be so divided that only the national identities and State boundaries will unite them.
Speaking during the second memorial anniversary of his wife Grace Ogot,a former assistant minister fior Culture and an author, Prof Ogot said already tension was being fueled through zoning of the country in political turfs, which he said was robbing the country of nationalism.
“We have gone so low. In Luoland, for instance, campaigns have gone to clans and sub clans level. The story is not different elsewhere, even those eyeing the top seat have no sense of nationalism. Look at their manifestos, everyone wants to get to the State House so that they can eat,” Ogot said.
He said if parliamentary aspirants do not stop operating at clan levels, they will not be able to make laws that guide the nation towards prosperity.
He cautioned: “Let us not stress our differences, there is need to embrace shared values and future.”
Politicians, he said, should use a language that gives hope to the nation and brings it together.
Ogot, a decorated historian and writer whose publications seek to restore the Kenya and Africa’s place in world history, warned that the “myth that the future of the country must depend on either the Odinga or Kenyatta families” was dangerous.
“This is political nonsense with no historical basis, you cannot run a country based on two families,” he said.
Ogot said it was wrong to promote clanism and tribalism as being pushed by politicians, saying Kenya was a melting pot of tribes who live together in many parts of the country.
“Go to Western for example, one third of the Abaluhya are actually Kalenjin, several others are Luo, so who are the Abaluhya?” he posed.
“If you go to Nyeri, in President Mwai Kibaki’s area, the Waiyakis are Maasai. So if we continue to emphasize these clan differences, it will soon blow up and we will be fighting ourselves,” he warned.
He said there was need to teach prper history to avoid a future possibility of having generations of people “who do not even know who Jomo Kenyatta is.”
Ogot warned that the planned scrapping of History as a subject in the new curriculum would be disastrous.
Author Austin Bukenya who gave the keynote lecture during the memorial service also warned that failure to priorities humanities would result in “a society of technical robots with no sense of humanity.”