Monday, March 10, 2008

Tribal Divides

As Kenya plunged into tribal conflicts after an election with allegations of corruption, suddenly the rival tribe names were in our newspapers. Luos and Kikuyus. Like the Hutu and Tutsis, it seems silly at a distance. We found ourselves localizing the issues: "Isn't Obama's father Kenyan? What tribe?" The answer is Luo. While the distinctions seem silly to us they are serious. Deadly serious. And is this so different from our talk of the "black vote" and the "Latino bloc?" Hopefully we can avoid the burning and beheading. But we are still tribal even though the distinctions are fast disappearing with intermarriage and confusing overlays of socio-economic and sexual politics. These conflicts between us and the other are deeply ingrained in humans. Maybe our best hope here is the startle factor from watching these grave conflicts from afar.