Excerpt : There are Kenyans who live in self-delusion. But none irks me more than people who unashamedly argue there is no such thing as marginalisation, be it regions, ethnic groups or communities.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

There are Kenyans who live in self-delusion. But none irks me more than people who unashamedly argue there is no such thing as marginalisation, be it regions, ethnic groups or communities. Those who peddle such pedestrian persuasions assert that marginalisation is invariably self-inflicted, or inherent and innate quality of the residents or community, such as laziness, backwardness and cultural trappings. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Marginalisation is socio-economic exclusion! Period. There is no inborn, natural inclination to be backward or be socially excluded. Every human being desires greatness and has an innate need for achievement, success and development. Darwinian evolutionists argue that men were all apes and we each strived through evolution to varying degrees of human perfection. Nonsense! Today, we are all born equally as babies, with same level of IQs, pretty ignorant and literary thoughtless. The environment we are brought up in makes us who we are. Clearly, a child born into a wealthy Nairobi couple cannot be socio-economically the same as one born to a poor, homeless family along Lake Turkana.

Sections and regions of this country were marginalised because of punitive laws, skewed public policy, official discrimination, political patronage and institutional malpractices of successive governments. In North Eastern, various pieces of legislations placed an emergency rule on the region from 1966 until their repeal 1997, courtesy of the famous IPPG resolutions. The 1965 Sessional Paper No. 10 consigned most of the ‘unproductive’ arid and semi-arid regions into economic oblivion when it declared that government prioritises development and investment in ‘high potential regions’, in a deceptive attempt to create political equality, equal opportunities and social justice.

Instead, it bred class formation and blossomed regional inequalities with glaring disparities in human development indices. The consequences of such skewed socio-economic policies and development blueprints formed the basis for the pursuit of devolution to address inequitable resource allocation. The Constitution profoundly alludes to this systemic challenge when it regulated resource allocation at all levels of government, and in every category. Our Constitution recognised and defined marginalised groups and communities in the society, and marginalised regions for which it specifically created the equalisation fund. For instance, its definition of marginalised communities includes “pastoralists, nomadic or settled, that because of its relative geographic isolation experienced only marginal participation in the integrated social and economic life of the country as a whole”.

To address these policy failures, Article 56 requires that ‘the state shall put in place affirmative action programmes designed to ensure minorities and marginalised groups participate in and area represented in governance and other spheres of life, are provided special opportunities in educational and economic fields, access to employment, water, health services and infrastructure.’ Marginalisation driven by discrimination is also addressed in Article 27(6) which requires that “the state shall take legislative and other measures, including affirmative action programmes and policies designed to redress any disadvantage suffered by individuals or groups because of past discrimination”

Would Northern Kenya be what it is today had the government provided fast lane roads, water, electricity, industry, etc? Would Central Kenya be what it is if it there was no infrastructural development? How do we deny a region good schools, hospitals, jobs and blame the residents for backwardness?

This week’s PSC report on civil servants establishment awfully reveals glaring effects of past skewed policies that gave four tribes more half of all the jobs. The largest county in Kenya, Marsabit, is 12 times the size of Central Kenya, and had only two kilometres of tarmac; a little better than Mandera which has none! Nearly half the people in 20 arid counties take more than an hour to get water in rainy season. Maternal mortality rate in Mandera of 3,795 per 100,000 live births is 10 times the national average of 400.

The quest to reduce inequalities perpetuated by institutionally sanctioned marginalisation goes on globally. Like everyone else, the El Molo wants a future! They are not lesser humans. No animal farm please!

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