Kalenjin Nation should shun ‘siege mentality' By MAKAU MUTUAPosted Saturday, February 12 2011 at 17:46 In Summary I don't know what spell Ruto has cast upon his people. It's a shock when Sally Kosgei embraces a tribal project I am very alarmed and afraid – very afraid. That's why I am writing this open letter to my Kalenjin brethren and sistren. I write the letter as a compatriot, out of love. A "separatist" mentality is taking root among the Kalenjin. The Kalenjin political elite – under the iron grip of Eldoret North MP William Ruto – have "kidnapped" the zeitgeist of the Kalenjin masses. Mr Ruto, who has been cited by the ICC chief prosecutor for crimes against humanity, has convinced "his people" that he and the Kalenjin are one and the same – indistinguishable. This is the antithesis of the Kenyan Nation. That's why we – Kenyan patriots – must help the Kalenjin Nation "liberate" itself from Mr Ruto. Time is running out. I don't know what spell Mr Ruto has cast upon the Kalenjin. But it's potent, whatever it is. The last straw came when Agriculture minister Sally Kosgei publicly prostrated herself before Mr Ruto and pledged loyalty to him. Dr Kosgei is no simpleton. Her pedigree is peerless. She was schooled in the most famous institutions. She holds a doctorate from the prestigious Stanford University and graduated from the University of Dar es Salaam and the vaunted Alliance Girls' High. She has held the most senior posts in Kenya – Head of Public Service, High Commissioner to the UK, and permanent secretary. That's why it's a shock when she embraces Mr Ruto's tribal project. Perhaps formal education is highly overrated. With Mr Ruto at her side at a public function in Aldai last week, Dr Kosgei "trashed" the Kenyan national flag. She said "this [ministerial] flag has got no meaning; it only helps me to evade traffic jams." The public cheered wildly. She said that she has "come home" to "unite with her people" to make sure that the "Kalenjin Three" in the Ocampo Six would not be prosecuted at The Hague. The "Kalenjin Three" are Mr Ruto, Tinderet MP Henry Kosgey, and KASS FM's Joshua arap Sang. Dr Kosgei then announced that she had severed ties with ODM boss Raila Odinga. A gloating Mr Ruto called Dr Kosgei "our mother" and unleashed attacks on Mr Odinga. Mr Odinga has now lost his three most important allies among the Kalenjin – Mr Ruto, Dr Kosgei, and Mr Kosgey. He has zero support among the Kalenjin. It's the right of the three – and all Kalenjin for that matter – to associate with, or support, any party or individual of their choice. That right is a cornerstone of democracy, and is unarguable. Political choices What is arguable, however, is the rationale behind particular "political" choices. I believe – as do most Kenyan democrats – that it's against the spirit and the black letter law of the new Constitution to associate on the basis of tribe. The tribe is a retardant of the democratic project. It's a killer of the "idea" of Kenya and nation-building. Kenya did not exist as a political society until the British imperialists made it up. I still stew about this historical fact. Even so, we must embrace Kenya as ours, and transfer our pre-colonial tribal loyalties to the state. We must become Kenyans first, and whatever else second. Our basic identity must be Kenyan – and then Meru, Luhya, Kalenjin, Taita, female, Muslim, pastoralist, disabled, gay, heterosexual, and grandmother, among other identities. Ethnic demagogy – what others inartfully call "negative ethnicity" – has no place in the new Constitution or a modern democratic state. The "siege mentality" enveloping the Kalenjin stands in stark contrast to the Kenya we want. Kenya started as a fiction in the British mind, but it's our reality now. But there are some British fictions we must give up in order to advance. One of those fictions is the "Kalenjin tribe". There was no tribe known as the "Kalenjin" until the British "invented" it in the 1940s. They cobbled it from the Nandi, Kipsigis, Marakwet, Pokot, Sabaot, Terik, Tugen, Elgeyo, Endorois and Sebei. Most of these groups have little in common. The British loved to make up tribes and create stereotypes of "natives" to entrench colonial rule. In many cases, there was nothing "essential" in the tribes they cooked up. That's why we must "deconstruct" tribes, instead of "essentialising" them. Only my "Kalenjin" brothers and sisters can free themselves from Mr Ruto. They should not conflate their interests with those of their elites. Nor should they carry the cross of the "Kalenjin Three" against The Hague trials. Herd mentality It's a sad day when a community acts like a herd. I know this is not isolated to the Kalenjin. Virtually all Kenyan "tribes" suffer from the "herd mentality". They cannot seem to free themselves from the clutches of their elites. That's why we are unable to fight impunity, corruption and poverty. Sometimes, though not always, people get the leaders they deserve. That's why we must applaud Tunisians and Egyptians for rejecting leaders they don't deserve. The Kalenjin elite have brought ruin and suffering to the community. Look at the 24 years of President Daniel arap Moi's reign. The elite fattened themselves, but the masses starved. In 2007, Mr Ruto whipped them up to support Mr Odinga. Now he has yanked them from ODM and into a treacherous alliance with the PNU. PNU wants to use the Kalenjin to block Mr Odinga's path to State House. My crystal ball tells me that PNU will dump the Kalenjin after 2012. That's why the Kalenjin must liberate themselves from Mr Ruto's empty tribal project. Makau Mutua is Dean and SUNY Distinguished Professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School and Chair of the KHRC. MY TAKE I hope they hear this merited advice from this reputable scholar before things explode again! Nice analysis of issues...by the Prof.