My Neighbor is my Clan


Dr. Ali Mahamud

Dr. Ali

The African continent is rife with Tribalism, clanism, nepotism and ethnicity all used in the most pervasive negative manners. Many of African civil wars, rebellions and infighting are clan associated. In many years past, myriads of theories to explain and understand the real connection between clan and conflicts have spawned. For instance, some conflict theorists belief that with increased literacy, conflicts decline. whether that is true or not, we cannot establish and needs an extensive research. However, it is clear that the most literate nations in Africa have the same number of conflicts or even more as those with low literacy levels. A good example is Kenya.

Kenya’s literacy level is an aggregate 90%. Remember 2007 post election violence! Some of the most educated personalities, media professionals, doctors, lawyers and politicians aligned themselves with their ethnic groups. All the quantum physicists, pathologists, the IT Gurus and the greatest minds became mouth piece for their clans not their nation – they were agents of their clans and sub-clans.It appears, despite all the knowledge and experiences amassed from the various professional backgrounds, alignment to the clan still towers.

Interestingly, deep inside, the elitists and supper educated are aware that war and conflict is retrogressive.

In this era, we should convert clanism to neighborism (Yes, new terminology by this blogger in the spirit of leading change). You are guaranteed conflicts related to clanism will wane and wither away. Just say “my neighbor is my clan”. If you are in an urban or semi urban residence, your neighbor is probably not your clan. But think of it. You share many things. You are in the same court, kids are in the same school, shop in the same market, use neighborhood petrol station and even your optic fiber runs on the same line. That is the more reason you should say my neighbor is my clan.

Nyumba Kumi (10 houses), with all its doubters out there is an innovative and profound way of promoting neighborism. The intent of this initiative is to enhance security by promoting community policing. The unintended impact is creating bonds within the community, promote ownership of neighborhood, appreciate each other and ultimately caring about the welfare of your neighbors. That is how it should have been – promoting neighborism as an ideology like we do with democracy should be the responsibility of everyone.

And finally, my neighbor is my clan – the neighborism ideology!!

Dr. Ali blogs at




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NepJournal is Northern Kenya's online newspaper. It is also a space where the leading thinkers and writers from the region bring you unsolicited and uncensored views, analysis and opinion from the region and beyond.

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