My late father, Samwani Saidon, emigrated from Mozambique into Zimbabwe in the early 1960s. This was a time of war, a time of discomfort for the continent of Africa. His is a sad story of a man who had to leave his whole family behind and then finally disconnecting from them permanently. His circumstances were so painful to him that he chose not to go back to Mozambique until he finally passed away. I grew up not knowing what it meant to have close relatives. This also immunised me from tribalism because there was no tribe to talk about for me.
When Tribalism is good
Tribalism according to the Oxford Dictionary is “the behaviour and attitudes that stem from strong loyalty to one’s own tribe or social group.” I am sure that there was a time when there was wisdom in Tribalism. Imagine the days of the old, when our ancestors were living off the land. They would hunt together and gather wild fruits together. This was a time when being part of the group would mean that you would be able to stay alive. So every individual needed to be part of a group in order to be covered by that group’s systems of defence.
These are the circumstances that resulted in tribalism. You really needed to be part of a system and of a group of people who were usually part of your extended family. A tribe is usually formed around a common ancestor. So there is comfort in knowing that the people around you are part of your family or extended family.
Tribalism is no longer good
While there was wisdom in tribalism in the olden days there is no more Wisdom whatsoever these days for you to remain tribal. We now live in connected communities made of various peoples from different backgrounds. What connects us now is the fact that we live together.
We find comfort in knowing that we are together and the safety that we need, we get it from each other. Your new “Tribe” now is your neighbours. These are the people that will protect you and take care of you when harm visits you. Your workmates are also part of your tribe these are the people whom you work with, these are the people that are by-and-large taking care of you.
Culture is Dynamic
Culture is not static. Cultures are dynamic. You need to know that your culture is shifting and changing all the times. You should embrace the change in order to remain relevant to your present circumstances. Some of the old values and old beliefs that we used to have do not work anymore. They are part of an old reality that does not apply these days.
If truth be told, some of the people that you think are your tribal kinsmen are actually your sworn enemies. They don’t like you. Open your eyes, you may be leaving your real relatives next door as you travel miles and miles to visit people who really don’t like you. People who even want to hurt you.
I’m not saying that you should not take care of your family. You should. You just need to know who your real family is. Jesus pointed out in the bible, that His family are those who do the will of His Father. In His wisdom, He was saying that the strength of our relationships is not in blood but in common vision.
Africans, Africans, the time is now that we need to open our horizons. This issue of tribalism or nationalism is not working anymore. We need to take advantage of the wealth of resources that the creator has blessed us with as continent. It is no longer enough to be concerned about only your family, only your tribe or only your nation. The continent needs you now.
Those who are wise will relate to this. You can’t solve the problems that we have on the continent using strong policing only, no border will also be able to stop them and definitely the politicians cannot do it alone.
I call upon each and every visionary. The wise ones who can see ahead. The champions who see opportunity in “mess”. We need each other to solve Africa’s problems. It is the responsibility of Africa’s children to solve all her problems. Let us open our eyes, my brothers and sisters, we really need each other. The whole continent is looking at you!
A Vision of Our New Heritage
I see a day, a day that is coming very soon. When no one will need to check the density of the pigmentation of my skin and judge me. A day when Africa will be comfortable in herself. Her children will be free to move on their continent. They shall buy and sell among each other. None will lack because they will be able to exploit the abundance of what they have and feed each other. On that day, the politician will see everyone as their “tribesmen’, there will be no need to elevate only “my people”. Everyone will become “my people”. That day is coming. This is the Heritage that I would like to leave on this continent when I get to check out.
Therefore what is our real Heritage as Africans? We have received a heritage from the previous generation. What are we going to leave the next generation with? Is it going to be lost dreams? It is going to be Hate? Is it going to be Tribalism? Will it be senseless killings? Or is it going to be love? I hope that it will be love. It has to be, we are better than that.