Written by Makale Robert and Doreen Shikuku
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Former UN Secretary General, Dr. Kofi Annan when mediating on the Kenya’s bloodiest post poll violence was categorical, and warned politicians on the use of the tongue. Indeed the tongue has power of life and death.
As Kenyans prepare to go to the election in March 2013, the use of the tongue by politicians will be a litmus test in understanding this airtight alphabetical theorem in the ‘’city’’ that we can call ethnicity from suffix word ethnically.
Is there more to letters than counting A, B, C, D? The alphabet weaves the present and the past history and all the events that are weighted by history.
A classical example is from Ezra and Nehemiah, them of the old Testamant, in Jerusalem. Laws were passed making it a crime to live in Judah if one was not a full blooded Jew. This shows how eras dedicated to racial purity are terrible just like election periods in third world countries like Kenya.
When the P M Raila Odinga was quick to speak about Ivory Coast the time it was going to the dogs as many African heads of state remained silent, many critics painted him with masterly strokes of global ethnicity saying Odinga was siding with Ouattara in a drama, cast of personal power struggle between Gbagbo and Ouattara.
The twisters of drama in names of people and places make a sharply loud comedy around the perimeter. Placement of ethnicity once was directed to alphabet letter ‘‘O’’ for Odinga and Outtara. The joke has been carried so far to Obama and Osama in United States of America taking center stage in US politics. This shows our ethnical cocoons that are at the center stage in our politics.
Ahead of the 2013 polls, rumor mills will be filled with churning conspiracy theories, many propagated by politicians to discredit their rivals like evidenced in the naming of political parties, leaders and their affiliations like KAMATUSA,TNA, URP,ODM, PNU to mention but a few.
The big debate in the laboratory of history has been what is in a name? Let not nobody judge this by citing the classical Shakespearean trite saying ‘’a rose by any name would just smell sweet’’ for the smell of negative primitive ethnicity is still fresh in the noses of IDPS and its dust has not yet settled, it wouldn’t smell sweet. Theories of conspiracy are 99 times out of one true or false, the paranoid fantasies are seductive because they explain the otherwise inexplicable.
It’s time for Kenyans to rise above politics of ethnicity this year being a litmus test.
In the honor of Kenyan ministers who perished in the horrible helicopter crash, residents of this ‘’city’’ of ethnicity can name one of the streets, roads or avenue in Kajiado after Orwa Ojode and the same in Ndihwa for Professor Saitoti where their names can be put in circles which have no end.
Is one known by one, two or three names? What identity does some names on social media network, facebook, twitter, yahoo, Gmail, MySpace, and YouTube, give to any linguistic filters that will wipe ethnicity as an undifferentiated mass meaning away? As some have undergone ‘’new baptisms.’’
To access any social media network and electronic banking system one has to have a password like the biblical story of linguistic word shibboleth whose purpose was an exclusionary as well as an inclusionary one.
Any person whose dialect debased this word was identified as an outsider and therefore excluded from the group. This incident reflects the universal use of language for distinguishing social groups.
It is also one example of a general phenomenon of observing a superficial characteristic of members of a group, such as their way of speaking, and judging that characteristic as 'good' or 'bad', depending on how the observers like the people who have that characteristic identifying with a party or a politician.
The word shibboleth in ancient Hebrew dialects meant 'ear of grain'. Some groups pronounced it with a Sh sound, but speakers of related dialects pronounced it with an S.
In the story, two Semitic tribes, the Ephraimites and the Gileadites, had a great battle. The Gileadites defeat the Ephraimites, and set up a blockade across the Jordan River to catch the fleeing Ephraimites who were trying to get back to their territory.
The sentries asked each person who wanted to cross the river to say the word shibboleth. The Ephraimites, who had no Sh sound in their language, pronounced the word with an S and were thereby unmasked as the enemy and slaughtered,.
As we enter to polls the National Cohesion and Integration Commission should come to task and check tongues of those who will make Kenyans shed innocent blood.
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