By NALUMINO NALUMINO –
SOMEONE called my attention to a video I watched online in which Lumezi independent Member of Parliament (MP) Munir Zulu is categorically stating that minority tribes in Zambia cannot or should never rule over the majority.
As though that were not enough, the day he was released on police bond, he aggravated the situation by saying that “the villagers of Lumezi are more intelligent than the villagers of Bweengwa”.
Such tribal remarks cannot make well-meaning Zambians happy and calls for all round condemnation.
Sad as the remarks maybe, I also understood why certain tribes have been marginalised in this country for decades.
People who harbour such perverted thinking should not even be in the People’s House at Manda Hill because they have unquestionable potential that can set this country on fire.
Labeling certain groups as “minorities” and therefore excluding them from political power has several negative consequences for a country such as Zambia which has 73 tribes.
It does not sit well also for any Zambian to claim that one tribe is more intelligent than the other.
Does this gentleman know that the result of what he was saying in that old video and yesterday upon his release from police custody is an entrenchment of marginalisation and discrimination of his fellow brothers and sisters from Bweengwa and other regions he considers to be minorities?
When political leaders exclude certain groups based on their ethnic background, it can lead to marginalization and discrimination against those groups as well as social unrest and conflict.
If certain groups are considered minorities and are excluded from political power, they may not be adequately represented in government decision-making processes thereby leading to policies and laws that do not take their needs and perspectives into account.
Such reckless tribal venom has potential to divide this country where people have been living as one. Whenever and wherever such unreasonable utterances are uttered; regardless of who is involved they need to be condemned in the strongest language possible because they also undermine our democratic principles as a nation. Ours is a democratic system that is based on the idea that all citizens have equal rights and representation. Therefore, excluding certain groups from political power undermines the very principles of democracy.
Mr Zulu’s type of thinking that suggests that a minority tribe in Zambia cannot rule over the majority is a form of identity politics that prioritises group identity over individual merit or qualifications. This type of thinking assumes that all members of a particular group think and act the same way, and that they are inherently incapable of representing or governing a society that is dominated by another group.
When Martin Luther King Jr said that black people should be judged on the basis of their content and not their colour, he was advocating for a society where individuals are judged based on their character, abilities, and accomplishments, rather than their skin colour or other external characteristics.
Dr King’s message was a response to the racial discrimination and segregation that black people faced in the United States during his time, where they were often treated unfairly and denied opportunities solely based on their race. He believed that a just and equitable society should be based on merit and equal opportunity, rather than racial prejudice.
By calling for people to be judged on the basis of their content rather than their color, King was promoting the idea that every individual should be judged based on their individual qualities, such as their intelligence, integrity, and work ethic. He believed that this approach would create a fair and just society, where people of all races could live together in peace and harmony.
May I therefore state that in a democratic society such as ours; all citizens have the right to compete for political power based on their merit, qualifications, and support from the electorate whether one is Aushi, Tumbuka, Mambwe, Makoma, Subiya, Lunda, Goba, Sala, Ila, Lala, NdembuNamwanga, Nyika, Mbukushu etc.
Further, I wish to expose the lie that one ethnic group can be more intelligent than the other by stating that it is not accurate or ethical to claim that.
There are many acclaimed authors and scholars who have written extensively on the topic of intelligence and its relationship to race and ethnicity. It is such authorities that should help us form an opinion before it is shared with the public.
Stephen Jay Gould, a prominent evolutionary biologist, wrote in his book “The Mismeasure of Man”: “Biological determinism was, and remains, a pernicious error. All too often, it excuses injustice by attributing to genetics what is really due to social inequity.”
And Janet Helms, a psychologist and expert on racial identity, wrote in her book “A Race is a Nice Thing to Have”: “The scientific evidence is clear that intelligence is not determined by race or ethnicity. The differences in intelligence among individuals within a racial or ethnic group are much greater than the differences between groups.”
The quotations I have cited above illustrate that the scientific consensus is that intelligence is a complex and multifaceted trait that is influenced by a variety of factors, and there is no scientific evidence to support the idea that one ethnic group can be inherently more intelligent than another.
In fact, research has consistently shown that there is more variation in intelligence within ethnic groups than between them.
Therefore, it is important for politicians such as Mr Zulu to recognise and respect the diversity of human abilities and to avoid making broad generalizations or assumptions based on ethnicity. Such claims can be harmful and perpetuate harmful stereotypes and discrimination in our country which is striving to be united as a true One Zambia, One Nation.
The author is former chairperson of the Media Institute of Southern Africa – Zambia Chapter