Many of us think that the issue of intertribal rivalry arose from ancient hatreds or warfare from cultures (including me ) but as I have been doing my research this week  I realised Tribalism is a relatively new phenomenon arising from colonialism, urbanization, and Kenya’s political culture . Infact until the 20th century most of the tribes in Kenya had little to no  contact with one another . British rule in the colonial Kenya was founded on the principle of divide and conquer. British administrators accentuated the differences between the tribes and sought to play groups off against each other. So from the beginning of multi-tribal life (where many moved from their respective tribal land to the towns and cities, mostly to work on the British farms,or on the railway line) , seeds of discontent were sewn and negative tribal stereotypes became embedded in popular belief. Tribal prejudices made it okay to demean and belittle the other tribes for being different.
Even with the achievement of independence in 1963,  ‘divide and rule’ remained the basis for most politics in Kenya. Since the rise of multi-party democracy, in 1992, political parties typically fall under tribal lines, valuing ethnicity above political ideology and policy The political groups have created alliances based on their ethnic numbers with the majority of Kenyans deciding who they will vote for on the basis of their tribe. Most political battles in Kenya are perceived to be about dividing the “national cake” among the ethnic groups, with each group wanting the greatest share. The bigger an ethnic group is, the more support its leaders get , and the bigger their chances of getting the largest share of the “national cake.”

some of my references

Moral Ethnicity and Political Tribalism in Kenya’s “Virtual Democracy” by Stephen Orvis

‘Tribalism’ and ethnicity in Africa by Carola Lentz

Tradition and transition in E.A :studies of the Tribal element By P.H Gulliver, University of London

Ethnic politics in Kenya and Nigeria by Godfrey Mwakikagile