Category Archives: ethnic


Back to the basics;

I have continued to battle with words that sound politically correct in recent days, including trying not to read between the lines in our daily newspapers, when indeed, the news is all between the lines. But in the same way that one loves with the heart and not with the mind, then, one can only be correct or wrong, disregard political, and it’s corrected-ness or lack of, that has found us a place with the pigs, even when our so called intellectual minds sit, sipping a chocolatey mocha, loving the nightly news or the bevy of beauties gracing the screens these days, the back and forth news of Premier today, no Premier tomorrow, sharing today, no sharing tomorrow.

But, the pain that’s deeper in my heart, is that I have smelt burning, not flesh, but concrete, black smoke, money and hard work smoked up to the heavens that shot them back down for discoloring the pure white clouds above, on that day when traveling back to Nairobi from Kitale, my mind racing with Kalenjin vocabulary, just incase we got stopped and asked what the name of an onion is in my tribe.

I smelt burning, on my way to Eldoret in Soy Centre, and I clutched on tight to my little girl, praying to reach the airport safely. That was the day the mind of my very Kenyan brother turned black inside, DO NOTE: this is politically correct language.

My gal, is half tribes…if today, she was in the schools i went to, beautiful places hidden in the scenic rift, beneath the dry river beds of western Kenya and looking up to the hills of what was once the white highlands…would I, in my right mind, take her to school there, I would like to be politically correct at this point and say, I will evaluate the situation first, and as we love to say it these days, now that( uneasy )calm has returned to the country?

Or do I say, you know, education is a very important tool in this day and age, and where one takes her child, depends on how well one sleeps, and in that case, I would find a school next door.

I dream, me, the Gemini is born to do that. I Dream about sunset years spent soaking the sun in the canaries, sipping a cosmopolitan after years of investing wisely in the Nairobi stock exchange. But now, I have had to double my old mutual premiums that will take my girl to that school that knows no tribe, and better still guard against the inflation that now means with 100 bob in my hand, I can only get 3 packets of milk and a balance of one bob, which will not be enough for the spinach, emergency matchbox and a 250gms of salt, like it was mid 2007.

And inter tribal relationships, where do they fall? Just when Otieno’s mother was getting used to the fact that Wambui is here to stay, the breaking news started scrolling, 8 dead in Kisii, 7 burned in Burnt Forest…my fingers, that were alive with youth and anxiety, soon broke out in a sweat, shock on me, how blind could we be, taking to the queues at the polling centre’s from 5.00 am, and not see that this was going to happen?

So, how do I start the healing, when I believed in my heart that only the old and un educated were the tribal ones?

You see, the first question my aunties asked when I told them I was dating a kikuyu, in September 2003 were was, how will we tell your uncles?

And now, I would like to pretend that I come from a family where another tribe means an equal, lovable person, but that would be a lie. I speak for a percentage of Kenyans, but I do not have the figures of this percentage. But now, how much more will we revolt each other, how do I, one who thinks intellect comes with literacy, begin my own healing?

I have learnt, in a few crippling weeks, that a book, ink, a pen…does not equate statesmanship, does not equate freedom, and does not equate healing.

Way back in the day when the white man came, they say he took the land; we kept the bibles, and learned to hold a pen. But even then we fought, and tried to stop the snake that is now the Rift valley railway. We fought to get our land back, fought he that came with both sugar and pepper. We took the sugar, and stumped out the pepper, and stayed around long enough to sniff into the dizziness that divides us into tribes, proud tribes that guard our land with a vengeance.

One brain, one mind, one thought, only that our weapons are different, I carry my desperation on my keyboard, others carry bows and arrows, farther away, some carry machetes.

And now I have to put my house in order. How do I be a Kenyan, love Otieno, Mutisya, Njoroge, just the same way I love myself?

How do I begin to love again?

PS- We all are Goliaths, the Davids’ are long rested, with grass already growing on their graves, so I pray, tell me, where do I begin?

My Brain, My tribe

Just last week, a friend and I got a thirsty throat and our next stop was the inevitable Kengeles Koinange, right next to our office at Ambank House, and once the Rum and tusker malt started flowing, we got talking; on the men seated around us, to relationships, commitment, flowers, or lack of on valentines day, commercial properties of love, when is love really love, or what is the cost of love these days? It can be in the thousands…or better still millions so, when he, the one right across, whose attention I got while wrapping my fingers suggestively around my 100% human hair from the UK, tells me he runs a dairy farm, I ask him if it’s the family business.

You see, if it’s not, its love in the thousands, and if it is the family business, and he is the adored son of the man who practically owns that town, centre of the great rift, it is love in the millions, with probability of growing, maturing, if with tender loving care, to love in the billions. Another double rum is placed on the table, a few tusker malts cover the apple red’s table lining, the proud way the Luo’s like to do when out drinking, someone makes that famous joke, and after being on first name basis for the last 20 or so, he asks…”and what tribe are you?”

The million-dollar question.

Why does he want to know what tribe I am?

The questions start racing in my mind, and I don’t have multiple choice answers

Of note is that I have been watching the news a lot lately, the throat slitting headlines now remain etched in my mind, until another gory headline appears on my used to be my very light newspaper( read tabloid)..Militias prepare to go to war…

“What tribe are you?”

What tribe am I? How does that affect the price of my Meakins rum this rather adulterous looking Thursday evening, or looking at long term options, how does that affect how much you will love me?

What tribe am I? Do the millions in your family account need know what tribe I spur from, the egg that hatched me is human, only carried by my Kalenjin mother, sad, that my tribe is blamed for burning, killing, hate campaigns that make me now want to hide…but still I am proud, made proud by community, that which has seen Kenya, the name in athletics..(read Tergat, and all the other Kips and Cheps) and even with our English as lacking as it may be, I am proud, that, I speak the language that my mother taught me, that I am different from the Americans, who understand, speak and love only that one language.I am proud that one day, when I get married, my mother will receive a number of cows. I am proud, that I have an ethnicity, and the vile humour that runs in the blood of those that curse the culture divide.It is a beautiful divide, it introduces me to the beauty of a ngurario, and the sour love of mursik, it beats me in the bull fights in luhya land, and makes my blood run at the lusty waist beads of the Taita woman.

I am a Kalenjin, and am proud that I can tell my brother, in my tribe, that there is cow dung in his path, so he can step the other way.

That’s my culture, that’s the African culture.

So what tribe am I? I am the tribe that seats in the middle of the country, and boast that I own the Rift valley, because, you know, I do. I was born in the rift valley, and the soil that I step on, I own.

I am the tribe that loves, that shares, but,one that does business too, yes, even with land.

I sell my 40 acres of fertile land which my grandfather inherited from the white man called Masta Chosep (Master Joseph) to the best offer.

I am that tribe, that jokes about the Kikuyu having a thieving record, we see that everyday in court, and the Luo’s being the stone throwers…lets just start with the primary schools in Yala…and the Kamba’s being overly loyal to the Indian traders, and the Luhya’s being the cooks, the watchmen and the Boda boda kings..

So when did it get so bad, just last year, right here and right now, we would be laughing our heads off…at the very same jokes, and now, I cannot even say my tribe to a young handsome man who runs a dairy farm, whose love is worth millions, and if treated with tender loving care, love in a billion.

“ I am a Kenyan”, I say, and I f I was a dog, at this point, right here, right now, I’d tuck my tail between my legs, and let them stay there FOREVER.

Shame, guilt…what became of me, an Independent, educated, young, sometimes sensible, making it big in this world of today woman?

I cannot say my tribe, because, in the Kenya of today, just a few weeks after December 30th, my brain shrunk to the size of a tribe, I am that tribe.