Rising Above Tribal Definitions

It is disturbing that in the 21st century, tribalism still find expression in the continent. One would have hoped that this archaic practice would have completely vanished because  Kkjjit has never assisted in the development of the continent. Africans must know that there is nothing wrong with knowing our tribes and understanding where they originate from. When Europeans landed in Africa they realised that there were no country borders but invisible ethnic group borders and established kingdoms. In order for them to dominate and conquer Africa they used one tribe against another exploiting the rivalry among tribes.

During the Berlin conference in 1886, our former colonisers did not care about the wellbeing of Africans as they secured access to resources. The reality is that these formal boarders worsened relations among tribes because others were advantaged at the expense of others. Before these demarcations you had instances where other tribes regarded themselves as better than the others because of the geographical location they found themselves in. This perpetuated the scramble for resources as those who were marginalised waged a battle which took a tribal posture. Many African politicians get into power by using tribalism and this must stop. The same system Europeans used in the past is currently being used by African politicians to divide Africans for their own interest.

In Rwanda during the nineteen ninety four genocide, tribalism was used by the leadership to wreak havoc. Both the Hutu and Tutsi's did not realise that they were victims of the 1886 Berlin conference. Others saw themselves as better positioned than the other while others felt left out due to their geographical location. This scenario only perpetuated war over resources.

In Countries like South Africa tribal consciousness is promoted and encouraged, however the government advocates for ‘a rainbow nation outlook’. This rainbow nation concept encourages unity in diversity. It promotes human value over tribal preferences. The concept talks to accepting various languages and respecting other tribes while fostering coexistence amongst South Africans and Africans as a whole. It is a model which has been working and many African countries can do well in taking lessons from it. There is nothing wrong with Africans knowing about the origin of their tribes. The promotion of heritage and encouragement of the use of indigenous languages is essential.  The challenge comes when leaders use tribalism to advance selfish interests and courses; they use it to securing power and oppress opposition. The people of Kenya have previously fallen victim to such a scenario.

Tribalism only creates conflicts when leaders use tribal lines to emerge and stay in power. It becomes a problem when one tribe benefits over the other. Africans only become aware of their tribal orientation when laws and policies are incorrectly implemented. Africa leader must promote nationalism or Pan-Africanism in their countries. They must deliver on their electoral mandates and ensure equal distribution of resources. This is one way of ensuring that no human being will ever feel lesser than the other and be tempted to wage a tribal war.

Rhulani Thembi Siweya is a Pan Africanists and writes for Africa Unmasked

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