-- U.K. Prime Minister, David
Cameron, made a speech the other day about
multiculturalism which has kicked off a big debate
about ethnic integration in the U.K. and about
what it means to be British.
As the U.K.ís ethnic populations
get larger, and bring with them a strong sense of
their own values and customs, this issue is not
going away any time soon.
All this debate has made me wonder
how it works in Kenya.
There are huge populations of
tribal groups, quite a few Asians and a tiny
minority of Whites, do they mix much?
And how does Kenya see itself as a
For my UK Politics blog, I
recently interviewed a Turkish Cypriot guy, Cosh
Omar, who had joined the radical Islam group, Hizb
ut Tahrir, in his twenties.
Cosh was very interesting on the
problem of British identity.
He said that the reason he had
been drawn to radical Islam was that British
culture was too exclusive: it was all the Queen
and Brideshead Revisited.
Cosh knew he would never be
'posh' enough or 'white' enough to fit in.
He says that in the twelve years
since he left Hizb ut Tahrir, he feels
that very little has changed; heís now an
actor and when he goes for parts he says there
are always two lines Ė one for the white
actors and another for the terrorist/ hospital
Cosh made an interesting
comparison with America which, in his view, does
He says that America manages to
incorporate different ethnic experiences to build
up one idea of America Ė the Jewish-Americans
and the Italo-Americans being prime movers.
After all, he says, can you
imagine the States without Woody Allen or the Godfather?
In London you do get mixing, but
still too common to find yourself at a party
where thereíll be only white people, to go to
a club in Peckham in which there will only be
black people, or go for lunch in Southall and
the only faces around will be Asian.
Do ethnically mixed countries
need a common idea of what the country is about
that everyone can rally behind?
Britain often likes to fancy that
its values are fair play and tolerance, but there
are many examples of bad sportsmanship and of
Outsiders would probably point to
our love of queuing and tea as more representative
than tolerance or fair play.
Kenya has such large distinct
populations, and is in such an interesting
political moment, it makes me wonder what itís
like for you guys.
How much do you mix?
And how do you define yourself as
-- One of our 'keep fit'
neighbours gets some air into her Swiss
Exercise ball ... Girls: a regular workout
is 'guaranteed' to get those excess kilos
off your midriff.