Politics Relationship

Why Tribalism in Kenyan Universities is a Sign to Worry About

Titus Daudi
Written by titus Daudi
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Anyone who’s been exposed to the political climate at our universities will agree with me; the political system is suffering from gangrene and it needs to be treated fast. A few weeks ago I happened to stumble across a tiny rally where all the members belonged to a tribe A that I won’t mention and they made it known through the language they were using to drive forth their agenda. I happened to be invited by one of my friends and it was only then that I discovered it was a political rally in the first place.

This is not the first isolated event of its kind, there are many instances where I’ve been called by a few members of tribe B wishing to advance their agenda in tiny group meetings just in front of JOOUST’s main gate. One of my sources whom we’ll call Ken( not his real name) told me:

“Once I was withdrawing money from an M-Pesa shop around Bondo when a young lady told the guy at the counter that she was vying. The man smiled and lied that he’d give her his vote but once she was at a safe distance, I happened to hear him say in my mother language: ‘I can never give a member of that tribe my vote.'”


Not satisfied?

Last holiday during the political upheaval at Nairobi University, I happened to get into contact with two of my friends, unknown to each other. We’ll call the first one Joe(not his real name) and the second Elizabeth (not her real name). During one of our conversations, Joe happened to mention that he was vouching for Babu Owino particularly because he belonged to his tribe while Elizabeth maintained that she was vouching for his competitor because one tribe should not stay in power that long.

Instances such as these are┬ánot uncommon to hear, I’ve heard a few of these myself but this brings us to a worrying question we rarely ever want to answer; “why?” Somehow we all know what will happen because it won’t be the first time it has but somehow we still prefer to stay divided. If education with all its beauty can’t unite us, what will?

It seems that even at the most basic of levels, we’re divided. Those tiny scars we had all closed up after the 2007 general election seems to have opened up after the 2013 election dispute between President Uhuru and the former prime minister Hon. Raila Odinga. We’re plagued all around us with an illness waiting to erupt into an epidemic and the worst part is that many of us even those blessed with eagle vision claim not to see or simply see it and do nothing about it.


Scientifically speaking human beings are born for social connections. We appeal to a sense of belonging and the loneliest people amongst us are more likely to suffer not only psychologically but also biologically having a greater potential to develop Alzheimer’s disease, heart attacks and Mestatic cancer according to studies by Psychologist Steve Cole and his team at UCLA. We appeal to a sense of tribe, belonging and Machiavellian politicians know how to use that to their favour, they trigger an emotional spark.


Neuroscientist, Antonio Damasio once noted that those whose emotional centres in the brain were damaged had a hard time making decisions. Decision making was thus considered to be more emotional than logical. Perhaps the cure to our political incorrectness, our tribalistic conception of the environment around us and our utter disregard for other cultures around us will stem once we learn to take away the us vs them mentality and replace it with the we all fall down if we err because we’re part of one big global story, the human story.

About the author

Titus Daudi

titus Daudi

Writing is that one thing that keeps me awake every night but I love to science too, together we make a great couple... at least that's what I think.

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