Home / Politics / KENYA & TANZANIA AT ODDS


Kenya shares the largest border with Tanzania than any other nation in East Africa. But to my surprise the two nations have clear differences in their policies, ideologies and politics. When Kenyans embraced pure capitalism Tanzanians went for pure socialism. When Kenyans fell in love with ethnic diversity Tanzanians got married to ujamaa meaning, African brotherhood (Ujamaa / Undugu). Tanzanians still see Kenyans as not only arrogant but also corrupt and too aggressive. When Tanzanians spend time for one another and care about their nation, Kenyans tend not to have much time for one another and care less about the situation of the neighbor.
Recently Kenya had a talk with Uganda on the use of the port of Kenya to enable Uganda get its oil but Tanzania was not involved. Uganda switched to Tanzania to strike a deal and when Kenya knocked the door, it was shut out of the board-room. Such diplomatic frictions are frequent. Yet Tanzania is hosting the regional court, parliament and other institutions due to Julius Nyerere’s legacy and belief in a functional African system. Kenya is great at the global networks and links having the only United Nations Agency in Africa.
Politically Kenya and Tanzania have different interpretations of democracy. In Tanzania, political parties are not tribal vehicles to take winners to the state house. In Kenya, the multi-party politics have only brought more division among the people. The only headache Tanzania has is the rivalry between Zanzibar and Tanganyika but only in politics and to some extent religion. In Kenya, it seems to have several divisions. Counties are now other entities that identify themselves with the locals and clans making the national spirit get dim. For instance, Someone from Embu County cannot be a governor in Busia county. Some one from Migory can hardly be appointed to work in Kisii. Some situations are worse. Within Kisumu county one cannot expect any government appointment if he or she does not hail from some key clans – Kisumu, Kano, Nyakach, and Seme. Whoever comes from outside such perimeters is considered an alien by large. Expecting any job there if you do not belong to any of the villages is nearly impossible. The devolution has brought a revolution. National unity and pride in the national ideals get scarce in politics. Tanzanians are still worried about their aspirations to attain a new constitution. Kenyan experience may bar Tanzania from adopting radical devolution.
As much as many Kenyans admire Tanzania and their style of life, many Tanzanians like Kenya for her economic growth. But the two populations do not trust one another. Tanzanians see Kenyans as bandits and very dangerous people. Kenyans see Tanzanians as too primitive and traditionalists. Whenever some Kenyans think of traditional medicines they think of Tanzania. However, the two nations co-exist peacefully and they tend to admire each other mutually. It is unlike Uganda that has had some rough time with Kenya on border issues.
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About Peter Onyango

Dr. Peter Onyango O. is one of our main contributors. He is a senior law lecturer, a writer, a consultant, peace ambassador, and a researcher. He assists so many professionals, legal minds, and debaters with his skills and scholarly wealth! He supports children and village community as a way of giving back to community. He edits, proof reads, and publishes various articles for our page!

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