Tribal loyalty should never replace reason


Tribalism can be defined as the state or fact of being organised along tribal lines, showing loyalty to a tribe or other social group, especially when combined with strong negative feelings for people outside that particular group.

While there is nothing wrong with identifying with and being proud of one’s tribe, the danger is that extremism often causes pervasive behaviour, which readily overrides our thinking and reasoning.

A number of inhuman, atrocious and irrational decisions have been taken by individuals and leaders over the years, in the name of ridding one society of a certain tribe or the other.

Crime has been committed in the name of tribal unity; and wars have devastated regions under the pretext of tribal supremacy.

Tribalism is responsible for the major political problems in contemporary Africa, derailing the continent’s dream of progress.

Political parties often start off with genuine concerns for social change, only to denigrate into tribal development platforms.

This manipulation of ethnic alliances soon escalates into sectarian animosity, leading to slow progress in the short term and complete failure of the rule of law in the long run.

Uganda, South Sudan and Rwanda have all suffered due to tribalism. In Uganda, the 1960s crises occurred as a result of the anger or resentment of the ‘self-imposed representatives’ of certain ethnic groups, taking historical advantage of others.

This crisis was a form of perpetrated injustice as the Baganda ethnic group received favours from the British imperialists.

As the years go by one wonders if any lessons were learnt from our history?

In November 2016, the President of Uganda nominated Justice Simon Mugenyi Byabakama as the new head of the Electoral Commission.

It is not in dispute that this body has for decades been headed by Muslims but now instead of embracing the change of jurisprudence, some Ugandans still incline the appointment of the new chairperson on account of both tribalism and religion. We await the appointment or otherwise of his nomination, as the debate along tribal lines commences.

Another November incident brought the tribal differences discussion to the front pages of Ugandan media.

A life was lost and soon the debate focused on “a Munyakore man shot an Acholi!” Tribalism is overriding our reasoning.

Now we have been reduced to focusing on tribe instead of the facts, the evidence, and the pursuit of justice for those involved.

My advice: let us be reasonable in our society. We need to drop the tribal identifications to the extent that they derail discussion of issues, and demean any particular group while favouring another. 

We are all Ugandans and unless we work together as a nation to ensure justice, freedom, and peace for all, we shall all lose and collapse irrespective of our individual tribes!

The  writer is a student of Uganda Christian University, Mukono, LLB III

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