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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Exuberant Eunice

 Eunice Kilonzo is not your average 23 year old! I had the distinct honor and privileged of spending close to a week with her and couldn't help but share this young ladies world view...here is a sneak peek into her world in her own words.find more of her in from her award winning blog I am not my Tribe...

My Heritage:
I am born and raised in Mombasa in a family of three; my mother and my younger sister.  I went to school in Mombasa; I am currently at the University of Nairobi where I am pursuing Bachelor of Arts (Political Science, Communication and Literature)
My Passion:
I am passionate about Kenya and more so the issue of Tribalism. I talk, write, tweet, Facebook etc on and about Tribalism and more so its salient effects if let to breed in our society. I discovered right from primary school but did not think much about it then how people would talk and label others by tribes.  Up until in 2008 when I saw the devastating effects tribe/ethnicity had in Kenya following the 2007 disputed elections. People suggested that there were other contributing factors, I agree but tribe was one of the prominent ones.
How it all began:
I had finished High School in 2007 and my aunt got me a phone (Nokia 2630) that was internet enabled. I had joined Facebook and I would put up notes on issues of tribalism, ethnicity and peace. I read about the Rwanda Genocide, more so because of its proximity to Kenya. I was terrified at the extent tribe would lead nations to wipe out its people. This sparked my passion tenfold.
I would research from the phone, buy newspapers and try to see what people other were saying about tribalism as well as engaged people in discussions. I particularly liked Mutahi Ngunyi’s works in the Daily Nation, to date, though I have not met him, I feel we think alike, I consider him my ‘virtual’ mentor.
I was at the time managing my mother's retail shop and I would talk to customers to hear what they thought about the 2007-2008 violence, its causes and views on tribalism. I was shocked at the level of disapproval some of the people had about the chaos, the grudges some had about certain communities as well as what they were planning to do in the next elections. For some reason, I found myself talking and telling them about tribalism and tried being a 'Kofi Annan' of sorts, ambitious? Could be but it felt it was the only thing I could do then. This is when I eventually begun my blog: I AM NOT MY TRIBE. This was in mid 2008,a year before joining campus.
Our Humble Beginnings:
I did not know much about the internet or how to manage a blog. I made mistakes, especially on posting and but with time, I would go to the cyber and learnt my way around blogging. In campus, I discovered that tribalism thrived and existed. In the students elections, tribalism would glare its ugly face and I personally heard and saw students who were threatened not to run against their fellow kinsmen, but give up their dream for a ‘preferred candidate’. I couldn’t understand this; I remember talking to one of my classmates who had to step down after being coerced. I tried to ask him to go back and reclaim his position but he just put it bluntly, “the last thing I want Eunice is to be isolated, it could get me finished here”. I then took it upon myself to talk to the kingpins of campus. Luckily most of them were my classmates while others we had mutual friends. I used this to my advantage. I would casually talk to them and ask about their ‘followers’ and what that meant to them…I would them tactfully talk to them about embracing other communities as they also had something to offer. Most of them were shocked by this suggestion, using the national politics to justify their course of actions. A few who saw sense in my thoughts and in as much they would not accept it publicly, they accommodated other tribes.
We’ve come a long way:
Whenever I would leave class, I would see posters of student’s communities asking for a meeting with their people. Out of curiosity I attended one such event and the agenda revolved around ‘protecting our community, not having boyfriends/girlfriends from those people and how they would reach out to their community leaders for some cash for non-existent projects in campus’. I couldn’t let this continue, so I begun bringing this posters down; in tunnels, hostels anywhere I found them. Now those who know campus, understand the role of goons, these posters would be put up by goons who would watch over them, I have seen what they did to those who either stuck their posters on top of those by the goons or worse still remove them. I was confronted by the goons who threatened to beat me and raid my room if I kept undoing their work.
Its true what they say, better safe than sorry, I took another approach. My roommates had known about my initiative and together we decided to print T-Shirts with the ideology: I AM NOT MY TRIBE. We first printed 10 T-shirts and wore them on a Friday, best part we were from different campuses so we got to spread our message. We generated interest not only in campus but in town.
Our biggest success:
Having people discuss issues of tribalism in campus. I would put up articles on notice boards in Main Campus, in the hostels and sign out with iamnotmytribe.blogspot.com/
This prompted and teased people who asked about the initiative. Another success was when the blog was nominated among the 4 top Political Blogs in the Bloggers Association of Kenya. In as much as I did not win the award, the nomination was a launch pad for the blog.
A third success is coming up with an Action Plan that runs up until April 2013. There are a few peace projects planned that you will all know in due time. In addition, I am glad to say that we have a board of six members, who will act as an advisory council as well as the initiatives interim secretariat.
I look at these as our learning experiences rather than impediments such as lack of proper training and skills on tackling issues of tribalism, Peace and conflict management. Another is it is still not easy to persuade people to have an overhaul in how they look at their tribes, which makes me wonder whether we are doing enough considering the many organizations which do the same things we do. The initiative as it is has a more virtual presence which is a challenge as we try to make it a physical entity, shaky but we hope to get there by mid next year.
But I won’t give up:
I won’t give up anytime soon. I will not stop if people are still marginalized because of their tribe, which is not something anyone chooses. I won’t give up if as Kenyans, we won’t emulate states such as Tanzania, Botswana who tribalism is a foreign term.  I wont give up if I can speak and write about it, in my small way. Yes, I won’t give up!
The Vision:
I envision us being a pace trend setter on issues of tribalism, peace and acceptance of all the 42+ tribes into one melting pot where there is no individual identity but a common powerful and colorful Kenya. It can be done, what can you do you think? Let me know!


  1. I like the vision you have Eunice.Give up not, whether sooner or later. Tribalism is currently the biggest enemy towards achieving the ambitious vision 2030 blueprint. But through your efforts and those of other like minded citizens, Kenya shall be cleansed of this perpetual vice. Keep up the good work.

    1. Thank You Peter feel free to share your sentiments on this young lady's blog,and let us eradicate tribalisim in Kenya