THE NATIONAL POPULATION CENSUS: WHAT IS IT IN A NAME? By Mungai.

Call it the Kenyan stereotype typical way of reacting to any undertaking that happens in the country or the government wants to undertake to criticize, question and politicize, from the establishment of a special tribunal Mau Forest Conservation, water and power rationing to National population census.

Is the Kenyan Community a cursed or a haunted lot because everythi0ng that comes up to be undertaken has to be politicized in this murky political shenanigan? It seems as if it’s a culture we are inheriting of criticizing anything, everything regardless and not caring whether it is of any good to the nation and it’s citizens.

Take the case of this year National Population Census which the government undertook, it forced harsh criticism, raised eyebrows and splitted some hairs among the Kenyan Society which was ignited by some people in certain quarters. The matter that was the subject of contenticity was the question of tribe. In this year’s census, one of the question which was in the questionnaire asked one to identify his or her tribe and this caused a lot of furore.

But, what is it in the name of tribe, that we can’t identify ourselves with, as a mere mention of it ignites and furore across the country? Aren’t we proud of our cultural and ethnic diversity? Do we belong to the condemned lot of slaves of our own cultures that we sometimes shy away from, and that we can’t identify ourselves with it. And, as the saying goes the one that who has no roots is a slave to his or her own life and surrounding – that’s tribe.

The National population census is a government initiative undertaking to head count it’s people so that when it plans development expenditure, it plans putting into consideration the population and the data that’s collected. As has been the norm the population census is undertaken after every 10 years.

The data that is collected helps the government, and it’s expected to confirm key economic and social trends that will greatly need aid and development planning for years to come. The census will help the government lay the necessary strategies so as to attain and achieve the millennium development goals, the economic development blueprint that’s the vision 2030 and provide the necessary demographical, nutritional, economical, educational and health services analysis.

But, the million dollar question still remains, whether the question of tribe was valid to be included in the National Census? This has elicited a vigorous debate whether the question of ethnic identity should have been included in the National Census.

I think our ethnic diversity should be celebrated, not denied. We Africans don’t just deny tribalism; we don’t know how to manage ethnic competition the question of tribe in the census should be looked at in terms of the value it adds to the information being sought. There is nothing wrong with one belonging to an ethnic group because we all comes from somewhere and that’s our roots, hence the tribe factor.

But, one major undoing concerning ethnicity in Kenya is that it is too much trivialized by the politicians and tribal chiefs to such an extent that it brings the negative repercussions.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics says that such data would be there and would only be used for planning. And, they dispelled any hidden motive behind this question.

The data of ethnic groups was withheld after the last census for fear that politicians would use it to fan tribal animosity. After the 1989 results were released, debate on tribe and ethnicity overshadowed everything else.

According to cardinal Njue, the data on ethnic composition should be released but warned that it should not be used to cause friction between communities. We are not privileged to choose where to belong in terms of tribe and there should be nothing negative about stating the truth, in fact figures on ethnic strengths should be used only “as a means to empower citizens and address equity” he concluded.

Data on ethnic groups is essential as it helps us learn for instance, whether a specific group is lagging behind in access to education, health services or generally suffering discrimination.


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