Saturday, March 31, 2012

Ethnic Demagogues v Nationalistic Patriots: The Type of Citizenry this Country Needs

I thought I share this extract from a speech delivered yestered by Dr. Willy Mutunga, the Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya at the NCIC Conference on Diversity. This country is at cross-roads and the decisions the citizenry make on the kind of leadership to adopt and elect will determine the future of this country. Will we opt for a leadership of ethnic kleptocratic demagogues or shall we refrain from retreating to our ethnic cocoons or be swayed by ill-gotten riches and instead opt for nationalistic patriots full of integrity and progressive ideas? The choice is ours ladies and gentlemen of this beautiful country. Here is Dr. Mutunga:

"One of the biggest threats to nationhood has been the over-supply of the vernacular politician and vernacular Kenyan and a shortage of nationalists. Who is the vernacular politician or Kenyan? It is that person who views everything through the prism of the tribe. They equate national interest with ethnic interests. They are obsessed with ethnic hegemonic projects. They hold hollow but dangerous supremacist ideologies and, have invented false notions of ethnic entitlement, most of it anchored on exaggerated grievances, yet mostly fuelled by excessive greed. They revel in insults and derogatory remarks about other tribes and groups, as they descend into mindless orgies of mirth and self amusement. When they lose an argument, they rush to the defense of ethnic stereotype.

They are incapable of mobilizing across communities, and consider being referred to as the undisputed leader of the tribe as the ultimate political prize. They indeed treat it as a badge of honour. They excel in what divides us, and use their evil genius to create more divisions. They will never invest in the politics of issues, unless they are anthropological. When they are appointed to public office, their official trips to the countryside are regionally selective. They readily hide behind the community, when caught in a corrupt deal. They excel in rallying around the tongue; not the flag. They are sometimes very educated, professional and rich, but find satisfaction in spewing ethnic verbiage. They sometimes flaunt modern gadgetry as a mark of sophistication, but use these platforms to purvey sectarian drivel. Yet, both the vernacular politician and Kenyan thrive because they find fertile ground in the minds of Kenyans, who pretend to be powerless victims when caught imbibing this drivel. You cannot choose the days to be a nationalist and the days you will retreat to the comfort of ethnic cocoons. Being Kenyan is a full-time commitment. This country needs citizens who are Kenyans all the time; not those who are vernacular Kenyans most of the time."


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