End “tribal animosity, violence that comes with every election”: Catholic Bishops in Kenya

Members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB). Credit: KCCB

Catholic Bishops have urged Kenyans to avoid tribal clashes that have previously characterized the country’s electioneering period, and instead embrace “cultural diversity”. 

In their weekly Sunday message issued July 17, members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops say citizens of the East African nation need to embrace cultural inclusivity and not look at tribal diversity as a curse but as a blessing. 

“We must end the culture of tribal animosity and violence that comes with every election cycle. Tribal incitement is by far the greatest threat to peace in our country,” KCCB members said in the statement read out by Bishop Dominic Kimengich of Eldoret Diocese. 

The Catholic Church leaders said it is unfortunate that some political candidates in the August 9 general elections have started “making veiled references to tribal balkanization”.

“Why do we get so easily convinced to take refuge in our tribes during general elections?” they posed, and expressed their condemnation for those who are “mobilizing young people as a means of causing violence”.


KCCB members said that any politician who is forming militia groups in the name of protecting self-interest “is an enemy of our country and our youth”.

Kenyans, they say, “must decide never to be led to the road we witnessed in 2007/8.”

The East African nation experienced post-election violence following the December 2007 general elections. The skirmishes that resulted in death of over 1,000 people and at least 350,000 internally displaced played out largely on tribal lines. 

In their July 17 statement, Catholic Bishops in Kenya urged the electorate in the East African nation to consider “the strengths of a candidate” rather than tribal affiliations when voting during the August 9 general elections. 

“We must go beyond our tribes and clans, and focus on the strengths of a candidate seeking our worthy votes. When we vote, we should not vote for a tribe but a candidate who will move our country forward,” they said. 

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They added that Kenyans need to support leaders “who are not tribal and at the same time support cultural diversity.”

KCCB members emphasized the need for Kenyans to maintain peace, saying, “Elections come and go. Leaders come and go. What is constant is our Country, which will outlast us. We must bequeath a peaceful and prosperous country to our children.” 

To the young people in Kenya, the Bishops said, “You must not be used as an object to cause evil, or of propagating tribal hatred.”

“People will come to bribe you either with money, or unethical ideas, so that you vote emotionally and irrationally without putting your country first,” they said, adding that the bribes and ill ideas are a way of robbing the youth of their future. 

KCCB members advised Kenyan youths to “work towards peace and cohesion across all ethnicities”.


“Keep alive your dream of a great Kenya, and work towards it. Remain always open to inter-tribal marriages. Decide to protect peace before, during, and after the elections,” Catholic Bishops said, addressing themselves to young people in Kenya. 

They continued, “We are children of the same God regardless of which part of the country one comes from. We urge you all to welcome and embrace people of other tribes, which is called Cultural inclusivity. This means respecting the right to live anywhere in the country.”

“May we continue to celebrate our cultural diversity in the way we conduct our elections and in the way we work together as a nation in choosing the next leadership into various positions,” KCCB members said in their July 17 statement.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.