Imagine a Namibia where political and ethnic divisions are the norm. A Namibia where tribalism thrives intensely, such a situation can certainly not be ruled out in the land of the brave. The existence of tribalism in Namibia is probably one of the worst kept secrets in Namibia. Tribalism is the state of being organized in, or advocating for, a tribe or tribes. In terms of conformity, tribalism may also refer in popular cultural terms to a way of thinking or behaving in which people are more loyal to their tribe than to their friends, their country, or any other social group. But like we all know, the truth has a way of rearing its head regardless of the depth of the grave in which it was buried.This week Omaheke Governor Festus Ueitele held a press conference to clear his name after he was accused of uttering tribal remarks aimed at undermining Otjiherero speaking Namibians.Ueitele denied the allegations levelled against him, but for now only God knows the truth. Tribalism continues to exist in our communities now more than ever, the situation is so dire it continues to keep the flames of nepotism alive.
Governor Ueitele is facing the heat because his alleged tribal remarks reached the public domain, but how many other tribally-charged incidents failed to reach the public domain-a situation which has fooled many of us to believe that tribalism in Namibia is part of the history of this country.It comes as a surprise that society places so much effort in racism between blacks and whites while the real problem is right in front of their eyes. Claims made that residents of Omaheke do not want to be led by someone who is not part of the original descendants of the region leaves much to be desired, this shows that regionalism continues to supersede nationalism. Maybe we should learn from the Namibian Police, when traversing the country I come across regional commanders and other senior officials working in regions from which they do not hail. But in the civil service the situation is not so rosy.
Just weeks ago, senior Government officials who hail from Zambezi converged in that region to discuss the prevalence of tribalism. The fact that there is need for such drastic interventions nearly three decades after independence clearly shows that there is a problem in our society.
The shocking part of it all is the fact that Governor Lawrence Sampofu revealed that some traditional chiefs also perpetuate the social evil instead of discouraging it. Despite claims that Zambezi is the country’s hotspot for tribal disagreements, I am of the view that there are hotspots all over the country, perhaps others are just good at hiding theirs or they have learned how to do it in a more subtle manner. Tribalism has become the basis for hatred in institutions, be it political parties, schools or corporate institutions.
In fact the political sphere is the epitome of it all. Parties are still run along tribal lines despite claiming to accommodate everyone. Some voters still vote along tribal lines without any shame.Tribalism is a curse, according to an interesting blog published earlier this year, tribalism begets social stereotypes, hijack democratic processes, identities become based on ethnic groups and it chooses who you mingle with or at least the level at which you mingle. Namibia being a country with a small population cannot afford to be haunted by tribalism, solely because the communities are very intertwined, so much that on a daily basis people from different ethnic groupings are bound to cross paths. This is an evil that deserves to be shunned with the utmost contempt it deserves.