Kenya’s National Census (normally done every 10 years) has begun this evening, Kenyans all over the country and in other parts of the world will be counted. Tomorrow has also been declared a public holiday for the activity to continue. It is a tough exercise because the officers have to count everyone in the homes, the streets, those working, traveling, those still in the camps (IDPs) and Kenyans in the Diaspora. The number of questions this time are so many, unlike the previous years, this time I notice from the adverts and news the questions are more, they even ask if one has internet services in the house, access to computer, how many mobile phones, other electronic gadgets and many other questions.
This time round the issue of tribe has been such a contentious one, some Kenyans felt it should be left out in the questions or the results of the number of each tribe should not be published. This was never an issue before but now that everything is politicized and tribalism being a major cause of post-election violence, it has become a sensitive matter. On the other hand I am curious to know the number of each tribe and I believe there are Kenyans like me who would like to know, which is the largest and where does mine rank. If the Kikuyu are the majority and the Ogiek and the minority that is a fact, why should we hide? We just need to accept one another as Kenyans whether our tribe is the majority or the minority and not politicize the issue. It also helps in the study of the country and in school on subjects like Social studies. Gone are the days when National Census were manipulated for political reasons and we shouldn’t avoid important information because of what happened in the past.
However there are Kenyans who have issues with the Census, the amount being spent on the exercise some feel it is not necessary and should have been used to save millions who are starving due to drought. Even after government assuring of Security at night, many still will not open their doors in the night for fear. Some cite traditional beliefs that they cannot be counted because of various reasons: one that annoyed me is that of some tribes like the Pokot say they consider Women as children and should be counted as children.
Lastly I feel the exercise will be a very tedious one since the population has increased over the last 10 years, the questions are more and questionnaires to fill. The officers will face many obstacles especially in the areas with people of different beliefs and complaints. The other issue is the illegal immigrants in the country, majority of them Somalis, how will they ascertain who are the Somali’s of Kenya and who are not. NTV this month showed how fake documents like; driving license, passports, birth/death certificates and academic certificates are made in the back streets of Nairobi. I believe many illegal immigrants now have the necessary documents that it would be difficult to know which ones are genuine.