Stereotypes and Equality

by | Nov 25, 2022 | Eq - Written | 0 comments

Ever heard the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” ? Well it doesn’t exist so probably you haven’t heard about it! Welcome to our world where books are judged by their covers. Have you ever been judged by your appearance rather than your character? Well for me I have been judged. We live in a society where people are very quick to judge without getting to the bottom of the matter. The society has been fashioned in a way that it only submits to the stereotypes that have been created over time; these social constructs perpetuated in the society have been embedded in the so deep that it has become our second nature, it has developed into something close to involuntary behaviour. We have been conditioned to quickly put people into a certain category by just looking at them or having some background knowledge about them. Stereotyping is very real in Africa, a continent full of diverse cultures is full of stereotypes that are put on people like tags; in Kenya someone will immediately put you into a certain cultural category when they just hear your traditional name.


The tribal stereotypes are very serious in Kenya and it dictates how different cultures interact with each other. A young man looking for a wife will be given a stern warning by the elders of his community; do not marry from community X and Y because history has it that their women are “black widows” a name given to a type of female spider which kills its male counterpart while mating. Do not marry from community Z because their women are materialistic; but are these claims true? No one knows and yet time and time again we find ourselves in the trap of believing in these stereotypes and then we become very judgemental. 


These kinds of stereotypes have been to an extent weaponized when it comes to the political spheres; we live in a society that people are afraid to vote for certain leaders because they actually believe that they are not good enough to lead us because they come from a certain group of people in the society. Stereotyping in Kenya has helped to further tribalism and this has created a political culture whereby people only vote along tribal lines; we have been led to believe that only a leader from your community can be able to deliver developments to you and your tribesmen. However, the truth of this matter is very slippery, these are just mere stereotypes.


The issue of inequality in the society is very real in our African societies and everyday people from various walks of life are facing descriminations based on so many things; among these are stemming from the stereotypes that have been created among various groups of the society. In Africa, I remember when growing up all I have seen is how women have been reduced to these creatures that are meant to be of servitude to men. Girls are taught from a very young age that their role in the society is to serve and therefore they should never consider themselves as equals of the males in the society. These social constructs have shaped the way they perceive the world and also themselves and eventually it limits their ambitions to rise up and achieve greater things. On the flipside the stereotypes among the boy child in the society has helped to empower them and further deepen the inequality in the society.


We need to create a healthy society that is able to promote growth and development of people; where respect for everyone is upheld irrespective of where they come from or what type of stereotypes have been created around them. Dignity of every human being, which is innate and we are all born with, should be the only thing that guides us when we relate to others. We should be able to treat everyone equally based on the fact that we are born as dignified humans and we continue to enjoy that dignified status until our time is up in this world.

Written by: Raymond Kigai


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