The content of a primary school textbook for Kenya’s Kiambu County has generated a wave of criticism and accusations of ethnic bias on social media.
The page 36 of the Comprehensive Social Studies textbook for Standard 4 pupils which generated the controversy was tweeted by a journalism student for its definition of the occupations of other ethnic groups in the county.
The book says “some” Bantu speakers in the county “work in the flower farms, coffee farms and tea farms”, while “most” of the Cushites including the Somali and the Borana “moved to Kiambu from other countries to work in offices and trading centres.”
The next sentence that stoked the controversy talks about the Nilotes who include the Luo, Kalenjin, Turkana and Maasai ethnic groups. It says: “Most of them work in large flower farms, tea farms and coffee farms.”
The tweet elicited over a hundred replies which were condeming the county and the education authorities for not scrutinizing the textbook properly and allowing such “inaccuracies”.
A Twitter user by name Jane Bisanju said: “I saw it with my daughter and I felt disgusted. The difference between you and I is that you at least pointed it out…”
Another Twitter user Mohamud J blamed the education authorities saying: “Its important to note that KICD is mandated with reviewing and evaluating such curriculum material. So who is sleeping on the job for such biases and incorrect info. Its something to do with KICD and not Govn Waititu.”
Others also think there is no problem with the content when the determiner “some” and superlative “most” are used.
However, this has ignited the debate about Kenya’s ethnic division which has influenced the creation of a political divide evident during its contested presidential elections of August 8 and October 26.
The East African country has 44 recognised tribes with the latest being the Asian community. Inter-ethnic clashes have been recorded in the past and traditional, political and religious leaders continue to preach inter-ethnic and religious tolerance.
The Kikuyus are Kenya’s largest ethnic group, comprising an estimated 22% of the population followed by the Luhya, Luos and Kalenjin.