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Rethinking 'Us' & 'Them': Integration and Diversity in Europe

Chapters 1 › Unit 1: Do you feel like part of the 'Us' or the 'Them'? View instructions Hide instructions

Do you feel like part of the 'Us' or the 'Them'?

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Tell us: Where do you fall on the ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ spectrum?

In this chapter, you've seen many examples of how diversity is understood and contested in Germany and Canada. We imagine you may want to comment on what you've heard and maybe even share your personal experiences. The 'Us' & 'Them' course community would love to hear from you:

Here are some guiding questions to draw from:

  • How is diversity perceived in your country?
  • How are the communities you identify with (race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, disability, sex, gender...) represented in media and public life?
  • What examples can you mention or find that indicate your inclusion or exclusion from mainstream society?
  • What experiences have you had where others perceived you in a certain way based on how you look or where you come from? Were these correct or incorrect?
  • Does your country recognize itself as a country of immigration and in which ways? Do you see your country as a country of immigration?

Now what?
Click 'Start in Journal', and fill out the entry. How you do this is up to you: You can use just words, or add pictures or links to articles or videos to highlight your point!

Is this journal assignment required?
No! Nothing in our course is 'required', and there are no grades, but we encourage you to reflect on these topics and share if you feel comfortable, so that others in the course can benefit from your experiences.

Ethnic Differences as Markers of Diversity in Kenya

2 comments

It is important to underscore that it is innate nature of human to value group memberships and to produce us/them distinctions. While color and religion have been used to highlight Us/ Them distinction in many parts of the world, in Kenya ethnic boundaries, serve this purpose. Kenya had a total of 42 ethnic groups up until recently when the 43rd group was officially recognized. All these groups speak different languages and can be said to have different cultural practices. In Kenya therefore, diversity is perceived in terms of ethnic orientation with blithe disregard of color or religion.

Amongst these ethnic groups, there are those that are dominant and are well represented in the public sphere, while there are those that until recently I had never heard about. For example, there is an ethnic group that has only a population of 2840 out of the 40 million people according to the 2009 census. in Kenya, every ethnic group prides in its culture, and by nature, we are guided by the principles of understanding and respect which are significant principles in interculturalism. In the mainstream media, ethnic groups are mainly represented by their main economic activities. For example, Luos are known for fishing and Maasais are known for livestock keeping. This ethnic division of labor has formed part of how the country's electoral campaigns are done as politicians seek to frame their messages according to the needs of different communities.
A Maasai herding
Luos Fishing in Lake Victoria

Generally, Kenyans are known to embrace nationhood as a principle that enhances inclusivity. This has been portrayed in several instances when Kenyans come together for a common course regardless of ethnic orientations. However, ethnic divisions always emerge in political contests. in several instances exclusivity has been portrayed in public appointments, where the majority groups tend to take a larger chunk of the appointments while the minorities are under-represented or not represented at all. The rise of tribalism and nepotism has hugely affected inclusivity.

Although there is no any policy paper declaring Kenya as a country of immigration, It is easy to classify it as a country of immigration because it has played host to people from different countries for a long time. The world largest refugee camp was founded in Kenya in 1992. The camp has played host to refugees from the neighboring countries of Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia and even Rwanda. besides, Kenya is home to Indians, British, and Somalians, who have acquired Kenyan citizenship. However, acquisition of Kenyan citizenship does not always change how local people refer to non-citizens.

Comments

Hi Michael! Thanks a lot for your comment and bringing in the Kenyan perspective. You bring up an important point that is something that I think about a lot: do we really all want to be "us", in the sense that we're all viewed the same? Difference can be great and it can be really enriching and I think communities should be able to hold on to their cultures, religions, etc. But as you mention, some are dominant and well-represented while others not so much...

HI Sophia, am so delighted to share the Kenyan perspective on this unique platform. I agree that all of us can not fit within the brackets of 'us' and for me too, our diversities (cultural, racial or religious) should always strengthen our collective consciousness and solidarity. However, the manner in which the sense of belonging is nurtured in our societies affects our solidarity and determines whether the segments of the society will feel included or excluded. Of course, this turns back to how multiculturalism is enshrined in a particular country: so is it demographic multiculturalism, is it a public discourse, political philosophy or a public policy.

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