Friday 14 May 2021
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Tribalism: Namibia’s death warrant

In the recent past there has been an upsurge of insensitive talk and tribal overtones- not only by leaders-but ordinary Namibians as well. The matter has raised concerns over its impact on a country that is still reeling from the effects of the pre-independence Bantustans that separated Namibians.
But although tribalism has been singled out as one of the biggest threats to national unity, many are fearing that it has the potential to unnecessarily polarize Namibians to turn against each other if it not nipped in the bud.
Tribalism is known as the grouping and organizing of people into tribes. A tribe would also be a result of the same beliefs and religious and ethnic culture of the group of people that have decided to follow each other within their group.
Veteran politician Professor Mburumba Kerina says tribalism has destroyed many African countries – and that if left to flourish, it could also destroy the Namibian House – which many sacrificed their lives for.  Kerina’s remarks come in the aftermath of a series of tribal utterances that involves senior government officials who are left to walk freely after making statements that carry with them a potential to disturb peace in Namibia.  Kerina added past colonial regimes effectively controlled and kept divided Namibians through tribalism, something that cannot be allowed in post-independent Namibia.
“In order to address tribalism head-on, politicians must be responsible and accountable to the people. They should not be stealing the resources of the country as if our resources grow on trees,” added Kerina. Kerina further lamented: “Namibia has no place for tribal politicians. Another thing is, these politicians must stop stealing. We do not have a paradise that grows money. Our money comes from the sweat of the entire public and private sector.”
Senior national leaders have been accused of propagating tribalism but instead work towards uniting the society. Public leaders who have been found to have made tribal remarks in recent times have gone scot-free, provided that they apologise for such remarks, questions have now been raised whether such a measure is punitive enough. There has been calls for stiffer disciplinary measures such as dismissal, but experts have warned that by dismissing public officials who make tribal remarks, you will still not address the core problem. In a telephonic interview with The Patriot this week, Fred Mwilima from the University of Namibia said tribalism can be addressed through a unified approach that involves government, political parties and ordinary Namibians.
To eradicate tribalism, Mwilima said: “I suppose it is a question of education. Therefore, unless there is a unified approach in dealing with the question of tribalism by government, you will still hear some advances on tribalism. It is a difficult thing to do because it requires a change of mind. You recall in the 90s when we had the issues related to condom use and HIV and AIDS. These were difficult subjects but with continuous campaigns and education, but Namibia has seen some advantages such figures which have gone down. And it is because of the thematic approach of education to change the behaviour, attitudes and mind-sets.”
Mwilima said a robust approach to tackle tribalism should be taken by the different political parties and not just government. Additionally, the renowned academic said leaders should shy away from favouring or seen to be favouring certain tribes over others as this sends a wrong message to the ordinary Namibian. Mwilima acknowledged government’s efforts to fight tribalism but noted that more still needs to be done.

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