A Nation of Rebels: Is Kenya shifting into a counterculture?
Crowds are a group of people that any leader would desire to manipulate, rule and control. Leaders manipulate organized excitement. As Kenya goes through an election process for national leaders this week, Kenyans are anxious and filled with fear. Five years ago, during the last election, the country experienced post-election violence. The voting was peaceful but after the results were announced, the country broke into chaos in some areas where there were more than two ethnic groups. The tallying process was marred by irregularities and subsequently the results were disputed. Alliances and political parties in Kenya are formed along tribal lines. Charles Mackey is quoted to have written that “Men…think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one”. There has been uncertainty as to who will win the election and mob hysteria is being churned by some politicians. Will the masses resist the allure of mob hysteria and reason as individuals rather than tribe? As I read how Hitler manipulated the crowds, I wonder about the effects of mob influence. I pray that the loser will accept defeat and not incite ethnic loyalties to violence and destruction.
‘The idea that the whole culture might be a system of ideology’ (28) is a plausible idea. Ethnic loyalties seem to create a sub-culture of isolation. Political coalitions across ethnic lines take different combinations every five years. In 2002, it was a Luo, Kukuyu, Kamba and Luhya came together against the Kalenjin. In 2007, the year that experienced post-election violence, the Kikuyu and Luyha came together against the Kalenjin and Luo. In 2013, it is the Luo, the Kamba and the Luyha aganist the Kikuyu and the Kalenjin coalitions. There is a constant shift of allegiance. The church never stands against this strong tide; people align themselves along tribal lines.
Is there a counter culture in Kenya? The closest come to the categories, one is a revolutionary militant tribal grouping ‘Mungiki’ http://you.sagepub.com/content/18/3/301.abstract
A second category is a new breed of leaders that defy the status quo in their appearance and manner of dress. The new senator-elect of Nairobi is Mike ‘Sonko’ Mbuvi a flamboyant leader who has a passion for helping the poor http://www.kenyan-post.com/2012/11/the-story-on-mike-sonko-mbuvi-from-jail.html
The new Chief Justice, Dr. Willy Mutunga wears an ear ring and abhors wearing dark suits going against the grain of the law profession which tend to wears dark suits and hardly wear accessories to work. http://www.wazua.co.ke/forum.aspx?g=posts&t=12538
These leaders are redefining the rules. The leader of Mungiki, Maina Njenga is now a pastor of a church, Hope International Ministries. The church is full of men who syncretize Christianity and African traditional religion. The movement has a membership of more than one million mostly men. Members contribute 10 shilling every day that goes to a welfare kitty, this is equal to about 12,000 dollars every day. They have become a sub-tribe and are always being touted by politicians for political gain.
With increased globalization, has cultural uniformity from the USA extended to the Kenyan sub-culture? The arts (especially music), the economics and the social norms are taking an ‘authentic’ African stance. There is a definite mish mush of modern culture and the African way of life. The church may still be trying to ape the west but the society in general is striving to battle with the demons of ethnicity and the pull of the dominant western culture. Will the church find its voice in counterculture?