National unity

Symbols of national unity

Below are the main symbols of national unity:

  • The National Anthem: This song is a prayer for Kenya. It expresses the hopes and wishes of Kenyans.
  • The National Flag: Kenya’s national flag has four colours. Black represents the colour of the people in Kenya. Red represents the blood shed during the fight for independence. Green is the colour of our natural environment. White represents peace.
  • The Loyalty Pledge: It expresses our loyalty and faithfulness to the country.
  • The Presidency: the position held by the president who is elected by the people to represent them.
  • The National Currency: Our currency is the shilling. It is unique and can only be used to buy and sell goods within the country.

National holidays: Special days when Kenyans come together to celebrate and commemorate on the country’s achievements and the contributions of certain great people to the country.

The Coat of Arms: It is a badge for national identity. It contains the following:

  1. Shield and two spears - show Kenyans are ready to defend their country.
  2. Two lions - our strength as a nation.
  3. A cockerel holding an axe - the first party that formed the government of Kenya after independence and our ability to work for the nation.
  4. A mountain - Mount Kenya from which our country got its name.
  5. Agricultural crops - the agricultural wealth of our country and the ability of Kenyans to feed themselves.
  6. Harambee - Kenya’s motto. It means working together.

Outside Kenya, the Kenyan Flag is flown at the following places;

  • Kenyan High Commission or Embassy offices and Embassies.
  • Cars carrying Kenyan Ambassadors.
  • When National sportsmen and women win international sporting events.
  • Outside UN Headquarters in New York.
  • When the Kenyan Head of State is visiting another country.
  • It flies half-mast when a Head of State or prominent Kenyan dies.

Factors that promote national unity

  • A national language: A common language spoken by all the people living in one country helps to unite them. People speaking different ethnic dialects cannot easily unite if they cannot understand each other.
  • Education: While in school, children learn about their common history and culture. They learn about different parts of the country which exposes them to the beliefs of other communities as well as their way of life. This fosters unity.
  • Economic and social interaction: During economic and social activities like trade, sports and games, different communities are exposed to one another. This interaction helps to foster a sense of unity. Games and sports help to develop team spirit among players.

  • The use of a single currency: This is a unifying factor. Interaction takes place during trade as people exchange various commodities with money. Development of towns and urban centres brings together people from different communities.
  • The constitution: The Constitution of Kenya is another symbol of unity. Within it, Kenyans have basic rights. Within it also, they pledge to build the nation together.
  • National assembly: This brings together Members of Parliament from every Constituency in the country. This means that within the House, the views of every adult Kenyan are represented through the people they elect.
  • Participation in national events
  • Freedom of movement
  • Equal distribution of national resources
  • The rule of law.

Factors that undermine national unity

Below are some factors which are likely to undermine national unity:

  • Bad leadership: When leaders misuse their positions, they cause divisions among the people. For  instance, if a leader or the government openly shows favouritism to certain groups of people, it causes hatred among people, thus, undermining unity.
  • Power struggle: When there is power struggle between two individuals or two groups of people, it causes division in the society.
  • Racism: In a country where people belong to two or more races, it is important to avoid discrimination and treat all the races equally in provision of services and distribution of resources. This is in order to avoid suspicion and hatred and for the country to remain united.

  • Tribalism and nepotism: When people have strong loyalty to their ethnic, family or regional identity, it causes hatred between members of different regions or groups. This is because people tend to favour their own when giving services and allocating resources.
  • Scarcity of resources: If the resources that people depend on are in short supply, people compete for the little that is available and this may lead to hatred and disunity. If resources are not equally distributed, there develops hatred, insecurity and lack of respect for one another all of which hinder unity
  • Differences in religious beliefs: If people  within a country have conflicting religious beliefs, it is important for them to learn to respect one another’s beliefs and opinion without which there would be no national unity.

Importance of national unity

It is important for people of one nation to be united and to live as members of one large family. The following are some of the advantages of national unity;

  • It promotes peace as people rarely engage in wars or conflicts with one another. This enables a country to prosper as resources are not wasted in settling disputes but are used for development purposes.
  • It promotes political stability and guarantees security as people have no suspicion towards one another. For instance, people may hold different political ideologies without hatred among them as this difference is not extended to other aspects of life.
  • National unity drives people towards a common goal for the good of all. It promotes growth.

  • If and when the country is attacked from outside, all the people fight together to defend the country.
  • National unity encourages freedom of movement, freedom to own property in any part of the country and freedom to interact with one another through intermarriage, trade and political activities.
  • Such interactions promote social, political and economic development.
  • National unity enables the government to serve people more effectively. People stand to benefit equally.
  • National unity reduces chances of people discriminating one another according to tribe. People appreciate one another in the spirit of brotherhood.
  • National unity promotes patriotism among Kenyans.
  • It promotes cooperation among Kenyans regardless of their differences.