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Githae slammed at US diaspora event over tribalism

Kenya’s ambassador to the United States Njeru Githae has come under criticism from a section of Kenyans living in the country who are seeking an explanation on why all three diaspora representatives who spoke at a recent forum were from one community.

In a statement on Monday, Kenyan California Union (KCU) Chairman Bramwel Ondiek asked the envoy to explain the criteria used to pick the speakers at the diaspora conference held at the Lax Hilton Airport Hotel in Los Angeles, California, over the weekend.

During the meeting, one of the participants, Dr Johnson Kiriaku Kinyua, kicked off the storm when he wondered aloud why those chosen to represent the diaspora at the meeting were all of the same gender and came from one community.

“That desk up there is well represented,” said Kinyua, referring to the high table where the Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i sat together with other government officials and private sector players.

FROM ONE TRIBE

“It is very diverse. But I noted that the people who spoke today on behalf of the diaspora were all men and were all from one tribe. I think we need to recognise the diversity that is in the United States,” added the adjunct professor at St Leo University in California.

In response, Ambassador Githae blamed the local organisers for failure to take the gender and tribal balance into account.

“It is the associations themselves that chose the speakers, and since they sent the names to us, it is when the names came when we realised that they had chosen only men,” he said.

“On the issue of one tribe, it is good to speak up. I think that question can be directed to the association and ask them why when they were told to choose their representatives, they did so…It is not me,” he added.

On Monday, Mr Ondiek said that the embassy was shying away from facing critics.

DIVERGENT OPINIONS

“We are convinced that this was a deliberate effort to shut out those who may be of divergent opinion on issues,” read part of the statement.

“We can’t believe that this is happening in this day and age,” it added.

The three speakers in question were Mr King’ori Kanyi, Mr Joseph Karanja and Mr Paddy Mwaura.

During the meeting, Dr Matiang’i delivered President Kenyatta’s message and answered questions from those present.

Others who spoke included MPs Ken Obura, Ndung’u Githinji, Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore, Toyota East Africa Chairman Dennis Awori and renowned scholar Ngugi Wa Thiong’o.