1,133 is not just a number

President Donald Trump - I am not a racist
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Kenyan tribalists and foreign racists: Welcome to the age of the proud bigot 

24 January 2018 - 14:01

By Never Again

There is no question now that the 45th President of the United States Donald J. Trump is a raging racist. The US President’s denigration of the entire African continent as a “shithole”, as reported by the Washington Post, outed Trump as a proud racial bigot of a mould many had thought would never again occupy the White House after the historic presidency of Barack Obama. Apparently not.

 

The chorus of condemnation against Trump's racist comments has been heartening to behold. Botswana, South Africa and Ghana put the US government to task directly while the African Union (AU), breaking from an obsequious tradition, demanded a “retraction as well as an apology not only to Africans but to all people of African descent around the globe.” Africa’s response, was clear and unequivocal: We are black and we demand your respect.

The age of the proud bigot

But Trump, unfortunately for all of us, doesn’t hold a monopoly on bigotry. He’s merely a conspicuous example of a phenomenon that is sweeping the globe. You must have noticed it. The internet is teeming with examples of people ready and willing to display their prejudice against people from races, tribes, and countries they consider alien to their own. It’s the age of the proud bigot. Kenya isn’t being left behind. The hyper-partisan tribal fever that gipped that country prior to last year’s elections still hasn’t broken.

This week, Kenyans were reminded why negative ethnicity is still one of the most pressing issues of our time. The Daily Nation reported that Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu had made a plea to people living in the county to stop electing “foreigners”. To those unschooled in Kenya’s dog whistle politics, what Waititu is calling for is an ethnic-based leadership test.

To recap, Trump and Waititu are both narrow-minded rhetorical flamethrowers who believe that people should be judged not by “content of their character” but by the colour of their skin and where they come from. The upshot is “you are either one of us or you are not worthy.”

Fortuitously, Judge Johann Kriegler, the man who capably lead the probe into 2007 bungled elections, was in Nairobi this week to offer a timely rebuttal to this blinkered way of thinking. Per Capital News, the former South African judge dispensed some uncomfortable home-truths to an audience of lawyers and judges:

“You’ve not abandoned the suspicions, animosities and the mistrust based on ethnic difference your colonial masters left you. You still have that legacy where you say popularly that a Luo can become President of the United States but not of Kenya,” said Kriegler while speaking at a Law Society of Kenya colloquium on last year’s presidential petitions.

Hear, hear.

In Tribe We Trust

If Kriegler’s summary of what ails Kenya is too simplistic for your taste, then we’d recommend Africa Uncensored’s newly released mini-documentary In Tribe We Trust.

The 40-minute documentary gets at the root of Kenya’s neurotic addiction to ethnic-based politics and, even more importantly, paints an ugly picture of what all the bottled-up tribal rage has cost the country in blood and treasure. If for no other reason, In Tribe We Trust is worth watching because it contains tragically underused footage of President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the main protagonists in our blood-soaked drama, exchanging friendly banter in one of those rare moments of mind-melding that only seem to happen at funerals and memorial services.

With Raila’s swearing-in reportedly afoot, In Tribe We Trust reminds us that he and Uhuru are not enemies and, if they can get along, there is no reason why Kenyans can't.

 

Cartoon by Bwana Mdogo

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