It is true that the seeds of tribalism manifested in the current conflict were planted in colonial Kenya and watered during the presidencies of Kenyatta and Moi.
But have we forgotten that in 2002, Kenyans were prepared to put all that behind them and build a new, better Kenya?
Have we forgotten that despite both presidential candidates being Kikuyu, they received votes from all parts of the country?
Have we forgotten that the main reason Narc won that election was because Kenyans saw in the party’s Summit, a reasonable attempt to distribute power fairly? Kenyans expected the tree of tribalism to be uprooted, not fertilised!
If we are truly honest with ourselves, we would agree with Prof Wangari Maathai that our current problems started with the dishonouring of the Narc MoU.
It was that singular and subsequent thoughtless and arrogant acts and utterances by those in power, egged on by the legions of misguided elite, that convinced many Kenyans that they had been betrayed.
Consequently, to be honest, our current mess is really a triumph of greed and myopia over creative imagination. How sad!
What will happen next?
A famous Irish playwright said: “We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.”
In relation to the history of wasted opportunities and chronic conflicts bedeviling Africa, this is such a gloomy and frightening statement.
Many among us think we are exempted from that aphorism about lessons of history. They assume that the conflicts ravaging many countries across the continent cannot happen here.
Some pessimists are still mostly agnostic about the possibility of Kenya becoming a failed state.
Those willing to concede, even the slightest possibility, do so with a cobra’s attitude. They argue the worst that can happen here is a Joseph Kony-type situation; a minor irritation that can be ignored as the rest of the country moves on. Tough love, they say.
The brutal truth is that we are not any different from those countries that have descended into mayhem.
The prospect of Kenya as a failed state is staring us in the face. Anyone who cannot see this, is living in cloud cuckoo land!
Chaos and breakdown
Once the genie is out of the bottle, it is impossible to put it back. Right now the genie is peeping out of the bottle!
All the ingredients of serious conflagration are there; smouldering hatred, cycle of killings, revenge and counter revenge; and entrenched positions where hearts are hardening.
The real danger we face is that the drift towards chaos and a complete breakdown can be deceptive, punctuated as it is by false lulls between seemingly sporadic storms.
The fact that violence does not affect the entire country all at once means that, as long as we are not directly affected, we are unlikely to comprehend the gravity of the situation – until it knocks on our door. Then, it will be too late.
It is like the classic case of the boiling frog. The frog happily resting at the bottom of the pot of water does not notice the danger as the temperature rises gradually. By the time it approaches boiling point, the frog is too sapped of energy to jump out. It boils to death.
Are we already beyond the point of jumping out of that pot?
A study of conflicts and wars reveals that the flame that brings the pot to boiling point is something rather innocuous. It is called rumour.
The clearest indication in our current situation that we are treading on dangerous ground is the swirling rumours of militia training and oathing.
The problem with rumour is that it begets fear, and in the current environment of suspicion and mistrust, it grows wings and morphs quickly into a monster.
It is very important that, as we search for peace, we urgently develop elaborate means of combating rumours.
Such could include a range of confidence-building measures. There should be rapid exchange and verification of information on circulating rumours and joint visits by peace committees to the affected communities.
Does the Kenyan leadership have the courage to help us defy the history that has become the fate of many African countries?
If those in power still care for our country, if they still wish to have one, united country called Kenya, they must find that courage. Today!