Identity politics is consuming us all, at home and abroad. It is dominating our daily discourse on all fronts. Minorities are on the march everywhere, seeking a space and voice for their particular grievances. They demand respect and recognition, and some are quick to take offence at even slight criticism or reasoned disagreement.
I may be coming across as a reactionary old fart, but let me at least play the devil`s advocate! So what is the big picture? Protest is in the air all around. In British academia, there is continuing controversy about the so-called `no platforming` and its allied `safe space` phenomena, both American imports. `No platform(ing)` is basically defined as to prevent or preventing a person holding views, considered unacceptable or offensive (to those in charge), from contributing or articulating them at a public meeting or debate, leading sometimes to cancellation of invitations or scheduled programmes. `Safe space` is a physical or metaphorical home for people, usually of marginalised communities, where they feel free of judgment or attack for who, or what, they are. What it does however is insulate both budding and mature intellectuals from receiving ideas and opinions that may be contrary to their preconceived beliefs or liking but which they could challenge and debate, thus depriving them of the opportunity to broaden their horizons. Safe spaces too have become a burning topic in the national conversation. And there is a third species of what may be fairly termed political correctness, namely `hate speech`, more about which later.
Before revisiting the topic for this edition, I first re-read an article on minorities which I wrote in July, 2010. I had then argued, with some fervour, that Kenyans should strive to respect the provisions of a new constitution which guaranteed minority rights. At the time, I was thinking very much of those who identified themselves as nationals but who were deemed minorities through number, through race and through religious persuasion, or lack of it, within well-defined national boundaries. The intervening years have focused international attention on minorities seeking to infiltrate such boundaries through migration, largely to the West. However, as people, many from Africa, are risking life and limb to reach supposed nirvanas of security and opportunity in countries like Italy, Germany and Denmark, a curious phenomenon is emerging: immigrants, many from countries in Asia, are heading to Africa as the continent of infinite bounty.