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A Cry for Future : Advice For for Mandera County

Adawas Opinion Corner

There comes a time when even the most reasonable individuals throw up their arms and give up on trying to have a dialogue with certain people.

Most of us ran into this problem as students when we tried to convince a country boy that humans have reached the moon. The country boy thought that you are crazy and no amount of explanation changed his mind.

Resignation sets in. If this condition persists, then normal dialogue will take a twist into the Tom and Jerry’s domain.

I have been receiving a spate of stupid emails from Fellow Mandereans filled with venom. I am accused of so much of been pro the new county administration. It seems that these people didn’t believe that it is my duty to give credits where it due and trash Roba’s administration with reason if proven to be the case. I tried to explain in private that I am neither an ideologue nor a theoretical freak. I told them that I am not inherently pro anything or anyone or against anything, but I am an ordinary person, who always allows himself to express the need of our time, the kind of leaders that Mandera County need.

None of my explanations are doing any good. The more I explain, the less they understand, because too many of us defend blood kinship more than the Countywide Cause. I left the matter there, but emails kept coming.

That made me to pick up the pen again and begin writing about where we (Mandera people) stand as a unified county.

It is said that a society is civilized when it matters more where people are going than where they are coming from. It is a society which celebrates progress, not inherited identity; ability not temporary positions or privilege; future possibility, not dead ancestry. Civilized societies relate to each other through shared citizenship not blood kinship.

The grandeur of civilization lies in a living manifestation. It lies in fulfilling promises and programs. It lies in moral elevation. It lies in breaking the bad habits. It lies in adopting new attitudes. It means taking the things to a better turn. It means organizing and arranging ideas for the occasions to come. It means struggling against the evil things. It means keeping the unquestioning culture; doing the noble deeds; taking the right direction; the steps which make humanity flourish and move forward. It means improving the way the people live.

The heat wave that is making Mandera County’s present political situation more than memorable is not making things any easier. Nerves are already taut and tempers are on a fiery edge. The sensible person will try to disengage and keep out of any dialogue. Even if it were so simple!

Quite rightly, promises and programs are human way of ordering the future, making it predictable to the extent that humanly possible. The programs are a reflection of the future; the promises proposed are a necessity of the present. Hope depends on how people look for the future. If promises and programs are not fulfilled, people become frustrated.

The significance of any newly elected County government is revealed by what it does when the moment is hard. What we see so far in the administration headed by Hon: Ali Ibrahim Roba is a catch 22 administration that want to serve contradictory or self-defeating society, filled with 50 year short sightedness, But the attitude of Roba administration that went in is giving people some hope atleast for now . Roba took over Mandera County by telling us that he was a man of reformation, but for moment his reformation and change turned to be on the right direction for the moment, but we seem to forget the frustration that national government is giving to devolved administration. Things like job creation were also a part of his political programs and when truth rushed out of the reality on the ground, his programs and promises changed to become a slow becouse of the announce and do nothing attitude of ministry of devolution and state house.

Hold a bit here is the fair of criticism set a side for our Governor and his team of excutives, one of the great problems of Roba’s Administration is not merely that of creating or finding work for the unemployed Youth but that of developing a new concept of work that will prevent practically everybody from becoming unemployed. The question is Mandera County is seen as producing the biggest brains so far despite failure of our education institutions but let me say better than Wajir and Garissa County: Where are this professionals, the academics, the professors, the doctors and the intellectuals or Diaspora’s who should have been assigned to improve the way the people live? Did they simply forget that their main responsibility is to serve the society? To help the helpless and the needy? or the Governor and his team didnt bother to invite them or consult them?

The hopes which the people have based on the skill of the incumbent administration are probably evaporating. For one, the new government has not as of yet tried to bring about a renewal of wisdom that must be more than a return to the past . This shows the fact that the present situation in the county is something for which we have no adequate historical standard of comparison. Our risks are extreme. The stability is at risk, the economy is none existent, the living standard of the people has worsened and everywhere you go you will see the scars of poverty, the County is in confusion – in respect of where the county is heading too despite a good kick start and sign of optimism from the Governor himself. 

The problems of the moment and the scale of the challenges facing Mandera County are so great that we must constantly feel the pulse of responsibility and check County executives intentions and plans against the way things are actually going. We must understand better what our possibilities are today and what possibilities we will have in the future. 

False hopes and half-truths produce warped mentality, deform personalities and prevent people from making realistic conclusions.  

The role of leadership responsibility has never been in doubt. It is how we use it that has been a problem. Apparently, a most talented gentleman who development aviation company from zero to a multinational company is our driver, but the society he is serving and the assembly and executives that  suppose to direct his intentions do not know how his agenda works.

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FEED THE HUNGRY INDEPENDENCE DAY: #MANDERA FOR MANDEREANS

October 20th is the day that we, as Kenyans, celebrate not only our heritage as a nation—the courage of our founding fathers, our independence from British Colony, the freedoms we enjoy—but also to celebrate our current prosperity. Kenya is a nation that enjoys abundance. Even during an economic downturn, the average Kenya sometimes is less off than people in some other African Countries. Because Kenya is so prosperous, it’s easy to forget that that wealth rotating among 10 percent of population. there are children not getting enough food, even a cup of tea in the morning. That is why #Mandera for Maderean , is trying to change that.
This Independence Day, #Mandera for Mandereans is promoting feed #100 or #1000 families initiative atleast on 20th October 2013. A gift of $50 “will feed a family in Mandera for seven days. Each $50 will feed a hungry family with nutritious food like oatmeal, rice and beans, flour, hearty pasta, and more.”
As you enjoy and celebrate the day with friends and family, take time to think of those living around you as well as those right here on our own soil who lack the necessities of daily life. If you’re not already sponsoring a child in need, considering taking that step. What better way to practically put your Islamic faith into action? The improvements you could help usher in to a child’s life—you just can’t put a price tag on that.

Competition, Identity and the Interclan Prejudice

Clan may be defined as a social group that brings together kin groups who either have a common patrilineal ancestor or have been incorporated into the clan for other purposes. From a functional perspective, a clan group provides its members a unified social identity, social status, wide support network, a degree of ‘public liability insurance’ and a so called defence system. However, for others, clan is the source of negative stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination and social conflicts. This paper explores, from a social psychological perspective, how competition and identity lead to interclan prejudice, and conflicts. In addition, the paper invites social science scholars to open a debate on the motives of deliberate activities to stoke up interclan/state/national/religious tensions as a political means to an end.

By their nature, humans live in social groups that provide them efficient survival mechanisms. For example, cooperating social groups can produce more food products, defend their territory and resources and can provide moral and material support to their members in difficult times than fractured and divided social groups. In some cases, social groups arise out of survival needs; however, in most cases such groups emerge from historical and blood ties. For instance, Sherif [1], one of the founding fathers of social psychology, demonstrated that, when provided with a competition task, individuals who had no prior relationships instantly formed two distinct and hostile social groups, simply because only one of them could win the competition for a trophy and penknives. Therefore, if individuals who had little in common (and who did not know each other prior to the experiments) formed such powerful social groups with immediate intragroup cooperation and intergroup derogation, it is conceivable that clan members with a common patrilineal ancestor and a shared history are more likely to form distinct social groups to maximise their potential of winning competitions for scarce resources. Hence, the source of interclan prejudice and social conflicts in the current Somali context can partly be attributed to interclan competition for access to power in order to exploit scarce public resources.

However, while competition can lead to interclan prejudice, it is not the only factor. This was noted in Sherif’s experiments and by other social identity theorists [2] that knowledge of a group membership appears to trigger identification with that group as a whole. For example, observations on news articles featuring interclan conflicts of interest, indicate the level of clan identification and solidarity with the ingroup clan and the derogation of outgroups regardless of the moral positions of the opposing sides. This unconditional identification, solidarity and emotional attachment to ingroup clans is exploited by politicians. An excellent example of such exploitation may be seen in the debate on ‘changes’ of the ‘constitution’ and ‘rejection’ of federalism. My point is not so much about the politics of exploitation; rather, the social identification that derives the unconditional solidarity of the masses and the resulting interclan hysteria and tensions.

From a social psychological perspective, the tendency to view the ingroup more positively than outgroups is understandable since part of people’s self-concept is derived from their group membership. In other words, the self becomes synchronised with the ingroup clan/state. Thus, in order for people to feel good about themselves, they actively compare the ingroup clan/state to other similar outgroups in search of an optimal distinctiveness e.g. ‘we’ are generous, hardworking, law abiding, and make good leaders, but ‘they’ are barbaric, lazy, and thugs, who can neither rule, nor accept to be ruled.

In light of this categorisation, one wonders why people choose to identify with a subordinate clan/state group at the expense of the superordinate national group (Somali Government).  Perhaps, the answer lies in shifting identities, clan norms and prototypicality. As mentioned earlier, the self becomes interchangeable with the group; so if the group is doing great, the self is contented. If the group is doing badly, the self becomes enraged e.g. protests, civil disobedience, and riots. Therefore, in order for people to identify with the superordinate group, it has to reflect the clan norms and prototype. Clan norm is either the central tendency (average) of the ingroup culture or the point that polarises the ingroup clan/state from outgroups. Prototypicality refers to the relative fit between the clan norms and clan/state members (particularly clan leaders). So, if the superordinate group is led by a prototypical leader of the ingroup clan, people are likely to identify with it. If it is led by a non-prototypical ingroup leader, one may or may not identify with it as the leader is viewed as violating the clan norm; however, if the superordinate group is led by an outgroup member, then it is likely to be vilified―leading to a cycle of interclan prejudice.

In the intergroup literature, it is established that when people are divided along intergroup lines, even if the groupings do not make sense to members, people still engage in intergroup bias (preferring the ingroup over the outgroup).  Using minimal group paradigm experiments, Tajfel and colleagues showed that participants showed marked ingroup favouritism, even though they had no idea who they were rewarding in their ingroup or in the outgroup. Tajfel and colleagues suggested that in the absence of any meaningful information about the members (politicians) and the groups (clans/states), people tend to stick to the only piece of information they can get―in this case the clan label. However, others [3] suggested that it could well be due to the nature of human cognition to simplify complex information into small manageable categories, as is evident in the human language e.g. enemy, ally, so and so clan, and so and so nation, where each category contains thousands, if not millions, of individual members with different personal characteristics, emotions, ambitions and worldviews. This categorisation, as Brown put it [4], could be a matter of life and death if one cannot differentiate quickly enough between the lines of an enemy and an ally in a hostile environment.

Although, social psychology enhances our understanding in the why and how aspects of prejudice development and intergroup relations, so far, it has not been successful in helping us eliminate it once and for all, even in Western societies where prejudice is intensely debated and studied. Thus, the spirit to investigate interclan prejudice, particularly in the Somali society, should be a priority not only for Somali social scientists, but for other scholars as well. This is because, there is a lot to be studied in a society where interclan discrimination and prejudice is practiced in the absence of meaningful features that distinguish interclan members!

As for the Somali people, until we claim ownership of our shared superordinate national identity (national government), be prepared to make sacrifices to guide and not misguide, to save and not sabotage, inform and not disinform; and until we judge our leaders not by their clan lineage but by the contents of their beliefs and behaviours, and until we accept and internalise civic ideals, rights and responsibilities, prejudice and social conflicts will remain the hallmarks of our lives and that of our children.


Abdinasir Ali Mohamed is interested in the Social psychology of group processes
(BSc & MSc in Social Psychology, Statistics and Research Methodology)

Reconciliation Before “New Deal For Somalia”

International donors have pledged 1.8 bn euros at a conference in Brussels as part of a “New Deal for Somalia”, even as many question the Somali government’s ability to deploy the funds. A bulk of the money shall come from the European Union, which pledged 650 million euros to aid the troubled nation.

Somalia has witnessed two decades of relentless conflict and remains divided amongst rival power centres in the north, south and centre, while the Al Shabaab Islamist militia remains active across the region. Nearly a third of the country has broken away to form the autonomous Republic of Somaliland, while the region of Puntland has repeatedly threatened to secede. A recent deal with Ahmed Madobe, the self-appointed leader of Jubaland, has broad measure of stability to the south.

While the Al Shabaab militia described the deal in Brussels as “Belgian waffle. Sweet on the outside but really has not much substance” on their twitter account, Somali President Sheikh Hassan Mahmoud described the conference as a new chapter that would take Somalia from “emergency to recovery.”

The government of Somaliland boycotted the conference.

“This meeting was for Somalia, we have been an independent state and a sovereign nation for a long time,” said Somaliland’s Foreign Minister, Mohamed Behi Yonis in an interview in Addis Ababa. “Our development plan and the development status we are in is far ahead of Mogadishu so we certainly need a deal that is distinct and separate from Somalia.”

Mr. Yonis said the European Union has agreed to a separate arrangement with Somaliland within the New Deal for Somalia. “We are getting a piece of the pie,” he said, “We made it very clear to our brothers in Mogadishu that we do not want to be part of the Somalia federal system.”

“The EU and Somalia argue that now is a good time to adopt the New Deal,” said Mary Harper, a BBC analyst and author of Getting Somalia Wrong, on her website. “But it is possible that the Brussels meeting will simply be the latest in the long list of expensive conferences on Somalia that end with ambitious communiques but have little or no impact on the development of the country.”

Why did the new Constitution create many jobs for looters?

By Muthoni

Aaahh! A case of the pot calling the pan black! When the former President arap Moi asked what ‘Wanjiku’ knew about constitution making, Kenyans were convinced by the civil society and other busy bodies that he was the ‘monster’ we needed to hound out of office.

And hound him, we did. Now there is no doubt that a leader, any leader runs out of ideas, suffers from diminishing returns or just gets bored at some point.

It therefore makes perfect sense to limit the term of office, if only to give as many Kenyans as possible an opportunity to make a difference or as it would be, bleed us dry.

It turns out that ‘Wanjiku’ does not only know nothing about constitution making, but knows even less of government structures, procedures and processes, checks and balances and such like things that protect her from, not serving one ‘monster’, but creating a whole train of them as long as the Mombasa-Jinja railway line.

JOBS FOR LOOTERS

These monsters jump up and down in public, while perfecting the same things that they convinced “Wanjiku” they would protect her from. There was a common saying after the promulgation of the Constitution that it merely created many jobs for lawyers. We need to change that to many jobs for looters.

It would seem unless someone more ‘clever’ than Wanjiku spells it out differently that the only thing we have achieved is to control the executive and give some money to the grassroots through CDF and the county governments. But the Constitution has given ‘run away’ authority to the Judiciary and Parliament.

There is only one question that the Judicial Service Commission needs to answer to “Wanjiku”. How does anyone earn Sh80,000 to sit and discuss a public issue, in a country where 60 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line?

And the decision to sit for five, ten or 60 minutes is entirely up to them. What they guarantee legally is the 80k… they are lawyers after all – well most of them. 

Mark you this are not even the judges and magistrates who have to sit all day and listen to horror stories of thugs who murder wantonly, sick fellows who rape children, animals and grandmothers, or arsonists who set airports and churches on fire.

“Wanjiku” found a knight in shining armour in CJ Willy Mutunga. Then her knight was thrown off the majestic stallion, and was defrocked and put in a Sh300 million house by his inner team.

Now am glad this is a blog and not a peer reviewed journal or else I would have been quoted extensively by the same lawyers as an expert on why magistrates need to bleed public coffers!

I truly appreciate my culture. The enormity of women wailing with their hands on the head when the worst happens – it has taken on a new symbolism. It is all “Wanjiku” can do right now. You see she had found a knight in shining armour in Chief Justice Willy Mutunga.

Then her knight was thrown off the majestic stallion, and was defrocked and put in a Sh300 million house by his inner team. The thing is – the only knight worth having is one on a horse! What can “Wanjiku” do?

This is a country of little shame, no one resigns when their wanton greed, misconduct or even outright theft is uncovered.

And especially now that the case in point involves an independent commission, independent of shame, accountability or even limitations – but most of all independent of poverty – it seems. All the other “independent” commissions meet in Mombasa  to whine of underfunding.

Sooner than later, a Shollei within them will let us know what the funds were used for. These commissions were independent to protect the public, not independent to get ‘blacker ‘ than the pot.

Anyway – what is it with the JSC and women? It might be that if Kerubu knew that to discuss her pinched nose someone was pocketing 80k, she would have forgiven Baraza. But that is the thing – what does Wanjiku know? 

Kenya’s devolution revolution

source: Africa Report

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Behind its lush parks and skyscrapers Nairobi is two-thirds slum. The governor now has $20bn to change that/Photo©Nigel Pavitt/Jai/Corbis

The constitution approved in 2010 created 47 new counties that elected officials at the 4 March national elections. The county governments will have to provide services, but the earning potential from wooing investors will in some cases be life-changing.

 

As some 1,500 besuited international investors and government officials descended on Maanzoni Lodge in May for a two-day festival of PowerPoint briefings and executive networking, casual observers could be forgiven for thinking that an independent state was in the making.

It was certainly a revolution of a kind.

Alfred Mutua, governor of Machakos County – one of 47 new county governments launched in the wake of the elections in March – was the quickest out of the blocks to take his government to the market.

And Mutua’s efforts paid off handsomely: Machakos secured KSh56.3bn ($660m) in investment pledges from more than 20 companies.

The projects ranged from a factory to make surgical gloves to waste disposal and paper recycling plants, fruit-juice processors and a company that will manufacture equipment for the disabled.

That is without the multibillion-dollar plans for the Konza Techno City, the so-called Silicon Savannah, which is also going to be set up in Machakos.

There are few natural riches in Machakos County. A sleepy town some 45 minutes south of Nairobi, Machakos was Kenya’s first administrative capital in the early colonial era.

After the railway was built in the early 20th century, the epicentre of activity moved to Nairobi.

Although Machakos lacks Nairobi’s entrepreneurial zeal, its land is cheaper and more abundant. Mutua is setting a high bar for the other county governors: he is offering low taxes, long leases and some 4,000 acres of land free to businesses wanting to invest.

A second independence

“Everyone is watching what is happening in Machakos. It’s very inspiring especially for counties and regions that have been historically neglected,” says Leonard Wanyama, a project officer at the Society for International Development.

Since independence in 1963, the economic development of Kenya’s ethnically diverse regions has been designed by planners sitting at the Treasury in Nairobi.

And the president in State House had the final say on policy: those regions deemed unimportant or politically hostile were marginalised by central government.

Most Kenyan citizens – the wananchi, or the people – welcomed the new constitution in August 2010 as a second independence.

New constitutional provisions to enshrine the devolution of power would counter the old diktat from the centre.

Each of the 47 counties could now expect a share of the national cake. The Division of Revenue Bill provided some KSh210bn – or 34.5 percent of projected revenue – until 2014 for the 47 counties.

County governments can collect property and entertainment taxes but in return they have to provide core services such as primary healthcare and transport.

Alongside the high expectations for devolution are suspicions that some in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s alliance want to hold back this flow of funds to the counties.

In June, President Kenyatta signed a bill on revenue allocation that had not been approved by the Senate, the upper house in Kenya’s bicameral parliament that was established to guard county interests.

Kenyatta justified his de­cision by saying that the bill had been validly presented by the Na­tional Assembly, but the move re­inforced suspicions about his gov­ernment’s hostility to devolution.

Raila Odinga, former prime minister and leader of the op­position Coalition for Reform and Democracy, stridently guards against any dilution of devolution.

The Senate and the Council of Governors – a bipartisan body that brings together all 47 gov­ernors­ both warn that the fight over revenue allocations is the first attempt by the Treasury and others to reverse devolution and weaken the governors.

Some 50 years ago, the first independent government under Kenyatta’s father, President Jomo Kenyatta, simply starved the old regional governments of state funding and reasserted the power of the centralised state.

Different this time

However, governors such as Mutua, alive to these machina­ tions, are seeking independent sources of finance.

Investors are looking intently at the prospects for access to vast mineral, oil and gas deposits. Now they will have to negotiate with the county gov­ ernments.

This time “the devolu­ tionaries” believe they are on the right side of history.

Tribalism, Colonialism and Capitalism

“A study of West Africa shows that the festering of tribalist, nationalist and racist sentiment are nurtured and sustained by the capitalist system” Socialist Party of Great Britain

Within the context of neo-colonial statehood, tribalism is a colonial derivative based on matriarchal or patriarchal relations forged in the distant past and used by an ethnic group as a defensive and an offensive weapon against other groups. The position of some of those who see tribalism as the main cause of Africa’s present social and economic predicament follows a familiar pattern of thinking. The colonialists, according to them, tried to make a nation-state out of a hotch-potch of antagonistic and uncivilised African peoples but failed in their pious mission. The various tribes had age-long hatred for one another and as soon as the colonial power went the natives descended into barbarism maiming and killing each other.

Nationalists in Africa see the matter differently, painting idyllic pictures of the African past and blaming all the tribal conflicts that have erupted after independence solely on colonialism. This viewpoint is as historically incorrect as it is undialectical. Facts abound on how the internal evolution of some African communities before colonialism and mercantile capitalism had provided groups of people the opportunity to appropriate the labour of others, accumulate economic surplus and consequently subjugate other communities. This is a scenario that must have generated a certain level of tribal animosity and discrimination based on economic exploitation and wealth, even if this was on a minor scale compared with the situation in colonial times and the post-independence era. It was these differences that were deliberately and carefully nurtured by the colonialists, and later exploited by the neo-colonial bourgeoisie after independence to keep the people manacled to the capitalist system.

In colonial times

Colonialism whether it was of the British, Belgian, French or German variety was not meant to be a benign enterprise. The motive behind its establishment was one: the exploitation of labour and the accumulation of economic surplus. Consequently, the driving force behind it, capitalism, did not spare the exploitation of labour in both the metropolis and other lands even if it meant spilling blood to fulfil this sordid agenda.

This mercenary impulse had implied increased production, technological expansion, the growth of the external and domestic market and ultimately the annexation and political control of other territories. Tribal groups which stood in the way were, in colonial parlance, pacified. But if, as suggested in some quarters, the colonial enterprise had meant to pacify and carve out viable nation-states capable of competing with metropolitan capitalism, the monopolistic tendency and vampire essence of the profit system would have been still-born. Far from creating problems for itself, its policy towards the people of the colonies was guided by the trinitarian doctrine-atomisation, exploitation and domination. This unfolded in its pattern of social and economic investment in what came to be known as Ghana and before that as the Gold Coast.

British colonial policy encouraged investments in only those areas of the colony which were endowed with mineral and forest resources. This pattern of investment engendered considerable regional variations in terms of the provision of roads, railway lines and social services. Thus the Southern Sector which by virtue of its location abounded in timber, gold and fertile soil benefited far more in terms of infrastructural development than the Northern territories which did not have any known mineral resources. But even in the Southern part of the colony there was discrimination in the provision of amenities on the basis of the contribution to the exportable surplus. The pattern of investment that characterised British economic policy was not born out of any preference for the Asante over the Dagarti, but based on cold capitalist reasoning. After all, some minimum maintenance of workers’ health and education was a reasonable investment since it ensured the maximisation of the extraction of surplus from the worker; and the greedy capitalists by their calculations knew this too well.

How did this promote tribalism? By annexing the Gold Coast and putting the people in a subordinate status, the British colonial power froze any further evolution and consolidation of a national identity. For example, it destroyed the principal catalyst for achieving the unity of fragmented loyalties. Not only did colonialism deprive states like Benin, Oyo and Asante of all their principal vassals and tributary states, but it followed up the process of fragmentation by smashing the basis of the hegemonic power of these states thus giving full rein to all manner of divisive tendencies.

While pretending to be carrying out a mission of uniting the incorrigibly warring tribes British colonial policy consciously and systematically separated the various people, creating conflict and ill-will among them. The colonial government sometimes saw the value of stimulating tribal jealousies so as to keep the colonised from dealing with their principal opposition-the colonial and the emergent African bourgeoisie who together were milking the people.

By categorising the various linguistic subgroups in the Gold Coast-Frafra, Dagarti, Ninkarsi Kusaasi, Dagomba, Akyim, Asante and Fanti-as tribes the colonial regime began to nurture parochial and exclusivist consciousness among people who previously had regarded themselves as one. All official documents in colonial times, for example, required information on the place of origin and ethnic background of the individual. Names were thus suffixed with one’s tribal background and area of origin. Feeling regarded as a member of an ethnic group by others and that they would behave towards you accordingly, individuals began to feel the need to identify more closely with their “kith and kin” and to promote its interest relative to others.

Racist colonial ideology ignored the fact that the people of the Gold Coast shared a common heritage of colonial oppression and colonially-induced capitalist exploitation with its concomitant ills: poverty, ignorance, disease and malnutrition. As a result, its philosophy of determining the inferiority or superiority of a people in terms of the extent to which they had culturally imbibed all what the colonial establishment represented came to dominate the worldview of some Africans.

Colonial ideology and culture operated on the basis of a hierarchy of cultures in which that of the metropolitan bourgeoisie was supposed to be supreme. The culture of the country of origin of the metropolitan bourgeoisie therefore became the standard by which a people’s level of primitiveness or barbarism was determined. The more your thinking, values and mannerisms were close to the colonialists’ the more human you were; and by implication the further your behaviour and outlook were from the masters’ the less human you were. This explained why the rich and educated elite who were products of the colonial educational system did not answer questions in their African dialect but in English. They talked about the opera which they had never seen except from a distance, referred to winter and Buckingham Palace and, above all, adopted a critical attitude towards other Africans who they derogatively referred to as “bush people”.

But the idea of trying to approximate to the coloniser was not only to be found in the relations between the African and the European coloniser. Sometimes Africans tried to approximate their status to other Africans if they thought those individuals enjoyed a higher status. African ethnic groups which had a high number of educated and rich people within them as a result of their long contact with the coloniser tended to feel superior to others. Even if they were poor and illiterate they identified psychologically with those in their tribal group who were rich and educated. It did not matter to the poor Asante, Frafra or Ewe person if all of them were victims of crude exploitation by colonialism and the African bourgeoisie. In their minds, the identification with the tribal big boss and the fact that they came from the same ethnic background was enough, even if it did not ensure the enjoyment of a spoon of marmalade from the master’s table. These exclusivist and warped thinking explained why a poor Asante for example could feel deeply offended if he was mistaken for a Busanga or any other tribe. This not only lead to more barriers between the ethnic groups but effectively undermined their capacity to confront capitalist exploitation. The inter-ethnic struggle for superiority or at least to avoid the stigma of inferiority dissipated the energies of the people.

Tribalism today

The African bourgeoisie which assumed the mantle of power after colonial rule also did not fail to realise the usefulness of tribalism in the struggle against the African masses. Like racial violence in Europe, tribalism was a means to an end: deflecting the anger of the masses from the neo-colonial bourgeoisie and directing it at other members of the working class. In another sense it was the most convenient cover for the capitalist robbers who stole economic surplus from the working class and poor peasants. The attitude of the African bourgeoisie towards the colonial state that it inherited, therefore, was not that of dismantling and radically transforming the exploitative relations of production. It was guided by the desire to inherit the colonial state-machine and seek accommodation with international capital in the extraction of economic surplus from the working people. Consequently, post-independence politics in Africa has witnessed the arousal and manipulation of tribal passions and petty differences among ethnic groups, for the same sordid reasons that the bourgeoisie in Europe sometimes find convenient it to use racism.

The predatory character of capitalism coupled with the hollowness and hypocrisy of the African bourgeoisie created fertile conditions for the festering of this cancerous disposition. Slogans, values and the moral high ground postured by the bourgeoisie as events unfolded long after independence have been blatantly self-serving. As for their masters abroad, the state machinery has now become an important instrument in their quest for capital accumulation at the expense of the masses, whom they claim in political party campaigns to be liberating from poverty, disease, etc. However, given the peculiar historical and economic circumstances in which it has had to evolve it is not an exact carbon copy of its masters abroad.

The African bourgeoisie is more desirous of imbibing the lifestyles and privileges of its overlords in Europe and America than showing the creative and strong interest in production that marked the genesis of the bourgeoisie in Europe. Its extravagance and neo-colonial conditions have been at the core of the steep declines of production levels in recent times, leading to shocking levels of destitution and poverty. But it is precisely these conditions of want that the bourgeoisie has shamelessly manipulated to scuttle the unity of the dispossessed in the towns using tribalism as a tool.

Cruel economic conditions have forced many residents in poverty-stricken suburbs to seek help and protection by means of a network of social obligations, transferring some of their traditional feudal loyalties and institutions to the urban environment. Most ethnic groups in Accra, Kumasi and Sekondi-Takordi have installed chiefs to whom they pay allegiance and seek protection. Tribal associations have also been formed to advance the cause of particular ethnic groups and used as sources of benefit: help in finding a job, accommodation, money and credit. People also stick together to make common cause against other tribal groups in the struggle for economic survival in the dog-eat-dog environment that has been created by capitalism.

It is these tribal associations that provide arenas for the various factions of the bourgeoisie to launch offensives and counter-offensives against each other in their struggle for political and economic power. Events in the run-up to this month’s presidential election in Ghana provide ample testimony of this, as many of such groups with the backing of the bourgeoisie have sprung up, all seeking to advance the interest of the bourgeoisie in the various ethnic groups. They have organised and whipped up the sentiments of the lower strata of their tribespeople against rivals belonging to different ethnic groups. They have created the impression that it is only when one of your tribesmen is at the helm of affairs that you can have a fair share of national development and individual personal advancement. Consequently, where a presidential or vice-presidential candidate comes from has become extremely important.

But as it has always been the case after every election, and will surely be the case after this month’s elections, that those factions that win the election will easily forget about the ethnic support base they so subtly manipulated to propel themselves to power. They will shun the company of their poor tribespeople who supported them and will fraternise closely with their allies in other ethnic groups. The rancour and bitterness that characterised their relations will soon be forgotten, except on political party platforms. They will play tennis, billiards and golf together and discuss lucrative business contracts in posh hotels. As for their indigent brethren who had worked tirelessly to put them in power, they will have to start thinking seriously about how to pay school fees, feed the family, and get good accommodation.

The festering of tribalist, nationalist and racist sentiment are nurtured and sustained by the capitalist system of production which produces only for profits and not for needs. The abolition of the profit system and its replacement with socialism based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for production and distribution would put an end to discrimination and bigotry. But this cannot happen unless people understand and see the need for this kind of change. More than ever before, the formation of socialist parties in Africa to take up the task of spreading the socialist message has become urgent.

Insecurity hampers access to aid, basic services in northern Kenya

Imagephoto: Red cross

ISIOLO, 28 June 2013 (IRIN)

The northeastern Kenya county of Mandera is experiencing a spike in inter-clan clashes, with several deaths recorded in the past week. Episodes of insecurity, since March 2012, have affected the delivery of aid to thousands of displaced people as well as access to basic services, say officials.
On 23 June, an attack in the village of Choroqo, in the Banisa area of Mandera, left at least 16 people dead, according to the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS). “The KRCS evacuated six critically injured casualties to Mandera by chopper. Hundreds of families have moved to Olla and nearby [bush] due to fear of more attacks,” said KRCS in a statement.

The Choroqo raid followed an incident in which several people were hacked to death and others shot dead in Mandera and the neighbouring district of Wajir.

Leaders from the warring Garre and Degodia clans, both of Somali ethnicity, had on 23 June signed a peace agreement to stop the clashes, with hefty fines set for those engaging in violence.

But on 24 June, four people were injured after a grenade was hurled at a crowd near the stadium in Wajir, and security officers narrowly escaped death on 25 June after an improvised explosive device detonated.

Since March 2012, the violent inter-clan conflict in Mandera has led to the deaths of at least 85 people, internally displaced 25,000 and affected thousands of others, according to an update by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

But residents say the toll is even higher.

“Not all the fighting in far-flung remote areas has been reported. The minimum number of those killed is more than 200, [including] herders, elderly people, women and children in remote grazing fields, and [people] across the border in Ethiopia who have been killed while escaping. Many fighters have also been killed,” said a worker from a community-based organization in the Banisa area.

The county of Mandera straddles the Ethiopia and Somalia borders and, like most of the northern counties of Kenya, is largely underdeveloped, with low access to basic services.

State security is also largely absent in Mandera, meaning that residents are often armed.

Causes of the conflict

“The protracted tensions and conflict between the two communities largely result from competition for natural resources and political disagreements over governance issues in the new devolution structures,” states an OCHA bulletin for 22 May through 22 June.

The Degodia and Garre clans are mainly fighting for political interests, according to residents.

“The Garre clan is fighting to protect and defend its political gains. The rival Degodia are using violence to avenge the spate of attacks and to express their displeasure and bitterness for the [political] loss. Their anger is towards the Garre, who they believe planted barriers that denied them any political seats or nominations,” said a long-serving civil servant in the area, who is from a different Somali clan.

Ali Abdille, of the Degodia clan, said politicians had sought to displace his clan ahead of the March general election. “People were killed for months. Almost all the Degodia fled Mandera and, in particular, Rhamu [town]. We were disenfranchised and forced to be far from voter registration points,” said Abdille.

After the elections, he added, the Degodia had been promised nominations to the Mandera County government but were short-changed.

“Politics is competitive; the community with a good strategy won. Nobody can force or demand leadership. A community can only negotiate but not use force,” said Adan Noo, a Mandera legislator from the Garre clan.

The process of devolution is expected to bring resources to the counties and has raised the stakes in local-level elective posts.

The northern Kenya counties in particular have been affected by conflict related to devolution due to perceived new opportunities in the previously neglected and underfunded regions.

Challenges in assistance

At present, the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) is helping to deliver emergency support to affected residents in Mandera, according to the communication officer Nelly Muluka.

But there are challenges.

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Houses were also burnt down in the Mandera attacks                Photo: Kenya Red Cross    

“The increasing number of those displaced is overstretching us. We were doing our best to respond, but we are faced with depleting stocks of non-food items,” said Muluka.

The KRCS is often the first responder to emergencies and disasters in Kenya.

She added: “The county of Mandera is vast. The terrain is very bad – it’s expansive and therefore costly to deliver [aid] to respond and offer emergency and relief assistance.”

KRCS is relying on helicopters to airlift injured persons from the remote areas where the latest attacks occurred, due the poor roads and the poor state of health facilities. The use of helicopters is exponentially increasing the cost of delivering assistance.

“We have to trace the fleeing families. The injured have to be airlifted to Nairobi because the local hospital lacks the facilities required to deal with complicated cases like bullets lodged in victims’ bodies and wounds [in] critical areas,” she said.

“We have suspended our water, sanitation, and health programme in Takaba area [in Mandera]. We were threatened and accused on several occasions of supporting one of the rival groups,” added the project manager of a local NGO, who requested anonymity.

Other adverse effects

According to OCHA, at least 5,000 students have been forced out of school due to the insecurity in Mandera.

Some 21 schools have so far been closed, with pupils and teachers among those displaced, Ali Abdi, a Kenya National Union of Teachers’ northeastern executive committee member, told IRIN.

“Mandera was in the last position in the Kenya national primary exams last year. It was second last in the secondary examinations. I am afraid it will be the same and not any better this year,” said Abdi.

Students taking the University of Nairobi’s extramural courses in Mandera have also been forced to relocate to the town of Mwingi, south of the northeastern capital of Garissa.

“More than 100 students are now in Mwingi. It’s costly, as we are renting hostels. This is making the cost of learning very expensive. All the lecturers moved so we had to follow them,” said Abdullahi, a student.

Medical and teacher-training colleges have similarly been affected, with some civil servants seeking job transfers from the region.

Health services have also been adversely affected, with a polio vaccination campaign being suspended in areas close to the Somali border.

At present, the government has deployed security officers and commissioned a disarmament exercise in the affected areas, according to OCHA.

President Uhuru Kenyatta recently called for a peaceful solution to the clashes in Mandera so the army will not have to be sent in. The military option is often criticized by human rights groups in northern Kenya due to associated rights violations.

According to OCHA, food supplies have been prepositioned in Mandera, but “needs continue to emerge as the conflict persists, with current response gaps in shelter, food and medication”.

“The conflict has further resulted in tensions among related groups of affected communities in Ethiopia, who are reportedly engaged in retaliatory attacks. Both communities are reportedly mobilizing support from their relatives across the border. The situation on both sides of the border remains tense, and there is fear of retaliation,” adds OCHA.

 

KIMENYI: What Obama will see of his father’s land a few thousand feet from the air.

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Dear President Barack Obama,

Congratulations on making the long-awaited trip to Africa. It has been quite a while since the 21-hour visit to Ghana.

I am told that by the time you return to Washington, you will have accumulated 200 hours in sub-Saharan Africa. Thank you, Mr President for this extended stay in the continent.

Africans have been wondering what happened to their son. Pardon those who have even been talking of you as the “prodigal son”.

They have seen the Chinese leaders on their continent so frequently now, that they know more about Beijing than Washington.

But now, you have made them proud. By the end of your trip, you will have visited four sub-Saharan African countries since you came to power.

You cannot imagine the nerve of these Chinese leaders — Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping. Just over the last five years, the two have visited more than 30 African countries.

Who do they think they are? Don’t they know that this is your territory? What do they see in Africa that you have not seen?

And then there is all this construction going on all over the continent — from superhighways, railways to dams — all by the Chinese.

I have been wondering what happened to American construction companies. Is it true that American firms do not do these things anymore?

But, Mr President, we have a rather serious problem. You see, our colonial masters taught us very good English and French.

But now we have to contend with the Chinese. The world would be a better place if Africans were in a position to negotiate with the Chinese in their own language.

I have this bad feeling that we may be getting short-changed — as Americans would say, screwed — in our natural resource contracts because we do not understand the language.

I say that one aid programme that America should support Africans with is learning the Chinese language.

This is what Africa needs. Forget the many other programmes. All we need is to be proficient in Chinese and we shall not only negotiate better, but we will be able to sell our ‘jua kali’ products to millions in remote villages in China.

This is my plea to you Mr President; some aid to learn the Chinese language.

Oh, and before I forget, just another small matter. I am told that the trip will skip Kenya, the country of your father.

But I realise that these were the words of doomsayers — I checked the flight plan of Air Force One and have confirmed that you will not be skipping Kenya.

You will be flying over the country on your way to Tanzania. This will actually provide you a better view of the country — a bird’s-eye view, so to say.

This is quite strategic. It is the best way to see this beautiful country. Those who say you will be skipping Kenya are just detractors who want to give you a bad name. I say you ignore them as they know not what they say.

Unfortunately, you will not be able to shake hands with millions of your admirers here in Kenya. Let me assure you that these are one happy people.

But I have to tell you one terrible thing about these brothers and sisters of yours. You see, once in a while, they get embroiled into some ugly skirmishes.

When this happens, houses go up in flames and you can tell that all is not well from the smoke. We had such a scenario in 2007 and 2008.

As you fly over this country, Mr President, make your pilot drop a little lower so you can get a good view. You will notice that there are no burning houses.

What you see will be people going on with their business like bees. They are a peaceful and hardworking lot, who have learned to deal with their own problems.

Let no one lie to you about the smoke you will see — those are our informal sector industrialists with their wood-fuelled technologies. And the machine down, that is our Chinese partners’ bulldozer working on our new bypasses.

Mr Kimenyi is a Senior Fellow and director of the Africa Growth Initiative at the Brookings Institution, Washington D.C., USA. (MKimenyi@brookings.edu)