RESEACH by the Voice of Youths, an organization set up by the United Nations Children’s Fund is a United Nations (UNICEF), shows that elections in tribal nations are not anything to be proud about.
Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia and many others suffered from post-election violence due to tribal tension.
Tribalism is barbaric and backward.
It has been responsible for many deadly conflicts and wars across Africa, including dangerous killings and genocide experienced in some countries – Rwandan genocide (1994), Nigeria’s Biafra (1969), Kenyan political violence (2007) and continuous flights in Darfur (since 2003).
The reason is that the votes are not based on ideological affiliations or preferences, but on tribal identities.
Tribalism is deemed as a social duty to be loyal to one’s tribe.
Out of this, absurd scenarios surface where some voters fail to bother, but simply rally behind a candidate whether one is a drug dealer, a murderer, a saint, a corrupt narcissist, a peacemaker, or even the evil spirit himself.
The au8thor of this column is aware that as long as one belongs to the right tribe, the post is in their fold.
Tribalism can also be used to disadvantage a particular tribal individual or group from participating in a country’s affairs.
More so, tribalism can contribute to disunity and perpetuate inequality, discrimination and poverty as it affects access to national resources and promotes selective distribution of national resources and development.
Tribalism can also be used to disadvantage a particular tribe, individual or group from participating in the national development process, apart from the vice effectively contributing to disunity and perpetuating inequality, discrimination and poverty.
Some scholars say tribalism has also fuelled underdevelopment as it affects access to national resources and can promote selective distribution of the national cake and development.
In some countries, tribalism is inborn, which has proved to be a major stumbling block to democracy as well as socio-economic development.
It affects every sphere of development, from social, economic, political to educational spheres.
In political spheres, though tribalism persists since it provides an avenue via which state goodies and favours trickle down from those in power to their tribesmen.
Thus, my mind convinces me that loyalty to tribe should not be greater than loyalty to the country.
In every sector of development, tribalism has also been rampant.
Employment has been skewed, with members of certain community being given certain positions.
For instance, public institutions in Kenya presented a case where the members of staff were rendered tribal, which has invariably affected work ethics.
Ethical practice of the members of staff is called for in order to safeguard the situation.
The Government is mandated to apply the provisions of public officers’ ethical provisions owing to the very ills of tribalism.
Tribalism is responsible for a lot of ills in many countries, including underdevelopment, corruption, rigging of elections and violence or civil conflict.
In terms of employment, people are given jobs based on tribe despite having low qualifications, hence the inefficient use of available skills.
With this, the rationale of one being educated is reduced to the heap of history, which has compounded poor governance and lack of accountability resulting in retarded service delivery.
I beg to attest that tribal affiliations and politics also cripple delivery of services in both public and private institution.
Scholars argue that development into national consciousness calls for retaining self consciousness and at the same time working towards the attainment of universal-consciousness which is not limited to ones tribe.
According to the Kenya Projects Organization, tribalism cannot be traced to ancient hatreds or warfare from cultures clashing over the ages.
The major opposing groups, like Luo, Luhya and Kisii of Western Kenya and the GEMA (Kikuyu, Embu and Meru people) from the Mount Kenya area, had little contact with one another before the coming of the colonialists.
Kenya’s tribalism is, therefore, a relatively new phenomenon.
It is a product of modern times arising from colonialism, urbanization and the political culture that sprung up in independent Kenya (Asmussen, Brochstedt, Jensen, Kjær, Krogholt & Mortensen, 2009).
Advocacy against Child Abuse and Gender Based Violence Executive Director Bellion Chola has welcomed President Edgar Lungu’s pronouncement that the Zambian Government intends to criminalize tribalism, saying this will promote peace and unity.
To him, only if the issue of tribalism being criminalized will it reduce the number of conflicts that people face because of the tribal issues.
He told a local radio station that many families out there are fighting and refusing their children from getting married to certain tribes, saying this is dividing the country.
In his words, criminalizing tribalism will also help in uniting the nation and not the unity on paper.
He said the ‘One Zambia One Nation’ ideology will finally be a reality once this law is passed.
With this background, I believe that Zambia should urgently enact laws criminalising tribalism.
On a number of occasions, President Edgar Lungu has been saddened by the rising incidences of people promoting tribalism and ethnicity in a country where every person should be equal.
Mr Lungu has vowed to emulate Rwanda which has legislated against hate speech and tribalism, adding: “Yes, we’ll look at that prospect, because I can tell you that a lot of people from Southern Province have been victimised on the pretext that they belong to UPND (United Party for National Development) and those in Northern, Eastern provinces have also been victimised because they are suspected to belong to the PF.”
Mr Lungu contends that tribalism and ethnicity had grave consequences on national unity if not carefully handled, hence the need for an indigenous panacea to weed out the scourge.
At least even one in the blind will agree with this platform that the vice of tribalism is barbaric and backwardness, which should be discarded to the heap of misguided history.
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