Monday, October 25, 2010

Nigeria’s Epidemic: Tribalism

Nigeria’s Epidemic: Tribalism
Tribalism serves as the sole explanation why human species still exist, and from time immemorial, humans have lived in tribes. In the 1600s, in most countries of Europe people spent time killing each other, there was absolute no love, they were never a happy family. For example, in Scotland, highlanders were fighting lowlanders, so, there was no white race or the other. However, the management of this tribal trait have today given birth to permanent patriotism in Europe. However, in most African countries, the only proviso is that attitude to tribalism seems to be in a category of its own. In the twenty first century, tribal cleansing is a norm. For example, the Rwandese genocide of 1994 where over a million Tutsi’s were killed, or the Omar Al Bashir alleged conceived plan to destroy three tribal groups in Darfur. What on earth, in this civilisation can justify killing people based on their tribal origin? In Nigeria, this may have something to do with guilt felt by the early politicians, especially the tribal motivated coups and counter-coups of the early 1960, over allegation that one tribe or the other wants to “steal” the Nigeria. The present leaders, on the other hand, especially in this coup-less dispensation, use tribalism for selfish reason and have a diluted understanding of patriotism. Unfortunately, majority of them understands it as looting the national treasury, and turning around to paint Nigeria with tribalism and religious fanaticism.
Tribal appellations will only cause tribal idiosyncrasies and eventually cause superciliousness and disharmony in a country. For example, does the PDP’s gentleman’s agreement represent true patriotism or tribalism? Why must a Northern complete Yaradua’s tenure? How representative is these decisions the aspiration and collective decisions of Nigerians? Buhari, Atiku and Bafarawa recently state that “Nigeria is set to disintegration in 2011 if there is an imposition of candidate on Nigerians”. This simply reflects how our leaders are very tribalistic. The term, disintegration, is an expression of tribalism. This is an example of how our leaders try to place one tribe over the good cause of Nigeria. An enthusiastic follow-up of Nigeria dailies will reveal other various unpatriotic comments that are capable of tearing Nigeria apart from some so call Nigerian leaders, for example: “Nigeria is a sheer geographical expression.” Nigeria is a mistake marriage of nations by the British.” “Nigeria is steadily becoming a failed state.” “The North must produce the next president in 2011”. “It is the turn of the Igbos to rule Nigeria”. “No Nigeria without a Niger Delta in Aso Rock comes 2010” etc. Do these comments reflect the tone of Patriotism or tribal chauvinism? This is how Nigeria has and is being governed by leaders who want their followers to be patriotic when majority of them lacked the spirit of patriotism. The above sample statements only show how tribalism is alive and deeply rooted in the Nigeria’s culture. It is the most powerful force in the world today, if used wisely, but Nigeria politicians take full advantage of this fact, and have also used it wisely to gradually destroy Nigeria. For example, they simply list and attack targeted ethnic groups, devise action based on investigation of what a particular tribe dislike. They then strategise/liaise with a fellow evil-minded tribalistic politician with great command and influence on tens of thousands followers. The typical scenarios are very common with the some so call clowns, parading themselves as “nationalists”, sometimes take the most pleasure plundering the nation into darkness by their evil conspicuous ambitions.
True patriotism requires the country to give you all the rights and privileges accorded to you by the constitution. This definition seems to be called into question by the realities of the present situations in the country. For example, political zoning, tribal representation and selection of public offices, all constitute a simple demonstration that tribalism is deeply rooted in the Nigeria’s culture. Tribalism begat fake alliances and national loyalties run very shallow; in addition, it is a force that is more powerful than nuclear bombs. Tribalism feeds terrorism, what is happening in Niger Delta or happened with OPC or Bakassi is unfortunately an expression of a wider and deeper tribalism. The selection of public holders that have plunged the country into darkness is a twin brother of tribalism, and which have destroyed the lives of millions of people. It was tribalism that indirectly engendered the Nigerian Civil War, and indirectly gives birth to the present evil called “Quota system” and step brother call “state of origin”. These are direct product, and consciously designed, out of mediocrity to model the destruction of Nigeria. This fuelled the growth of national inequality and anger at perceived injustice. One of the unfortunate characteristics of tribalism is this unnecessary competition with other tribes. The Yoruba becomes “us” and the Igbos and Hausa becomes “them”. This, in truth is what led to most of our problem, in turn leads to the most evil of Nigeria traits – religion clashes. The belief in the superiority of one tribe and the weakness of the other have lead to various untold number of wars in Nigeria, to prove superiority and to extinguish other tribes considered inferior.
The opposite of tribalism is patriotism, a continuous expression, by emotion and act of total loyalty, commitment, and impartial love to one’s country. Inappropriately utilized, tribalism will continue, and might win, unless individual’s mentality change and we begin to respond by sacrificing personal liberties and drive for development. First, any leaders caught in the web of defamatory comments against Nigeria should be barred from competing or holding any public office.
Islam teaches that all human beings are equal in the eyes of the Creator despite tribal differences: “O Mankind, We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is he who is the most righteous of you” (Quran 49:13). Also, there is no doubt that the Bible also references tribalism, when Apostle Paul wrote to the people of Corinth, warning them, “If there is jealousy or rivalry or schism among you, are you not fleshly and behaving according to the way of the flesh? Because when someone says, ‘I am of Paul’ and another ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not fleshly? Who is Paul and who is Apollos? They are servants through whom you believed… Let no one take pride in people, for everything is yours’, Paul, Appolos, or Cephas… but as for you, you are of Christ and Christ is of God” (1 Corinthians 3:3-5, 21-22, 23). Even Einstein saw this truth over 50 years ago when he said: “A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive.” (Albert Einstein, 1954).
Patriotism, national consciousness and national unity come alight only when the Super Eagles of Nigeria is playing another country, tribal and religious differences. Is football what patriotism is all about? Therefore, it is time for us to accept that responsibility to other tribes. This is because we all have one common destiny, whether they are from the North, the South, the East, or the West. The realisation of the fact that we are all victims of economic imperialism and foreign vested interest should prompt and persuade us to educate ourselves by all means of the need for oneness of Nigeria, and realise that geographical position is no barrier to national co-operation and mutual understanding.
We are all Nigerians!

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