Racism…. I understand it. The erroneously belief that one race or colour, the white race or colour, is inherently superior to another colour, the black race or colour (and Black includes all those that are not white). That some men and women have gone the whole length and breadth to justify it or prove the differences, scientifically or biologically. Hitler and the Third Reich, the KKK, etc. They tried so hard but
But tribalism? On what ideology or premise is it resting on? That one tribe is superior to the other in intellect? The black man is distinguishable from the white man by the colour of their skins. So you can spot the difference…. in our case, how do we distinguish the Mandinka from the Jola from the Serere from the Manjago?
Certainly, not from their physical feature. I can easily pass for a Jola or a Serere or Wollof…. We cannot say the Jola or the Fula is intellectually superior to the rest and vice versa. We cannot say Allah loves one tribe more that the other. And language? There are many amongst us who are bilingual. So what is the basis of the tribalism we claim is wreaking our body politic?
I think often we mistake a lot of things for tribalism when they in reality aren’t. I employ my relatives or tribesmen only in my business….. That is either nepotism or an issue of trust or wanting to support my kind to reduce dependency on me…. Few years down the line the business collapses because I exchange competency for being seen to be kind. But the business is a private entity and so I can decide who works for me or not….. The Executive of a particular political party are from one tribe…. I join a political party if I share its objectives and values and vision… So men and women who share a lot in common, in belief and conviction and all, will band together. If others don’t join, that is unfortunate. If the party does not go out to scout for supporters, that is unfortunate too and there is a price to pay. But none can be forced to join a political party…. If some people of a tribe cannot speak or do not want to speak the language of another tribe, that is unfortunate. They don’t just know the value of language, that “the sum of human wisdom is not found in any one language, and no single language is capable of expressing all forms and degrees of human comprehension.” (Ezra Pound)…. And few have language aptitude or competency to learn a second language.
Racism is either a deliberate state policy or is underpinned by law or is institutionalised. In the instance of The Gambia, is tribalism supported by any of these? Yes, there has been and is nepotism, corruption, favouritism and “jobs for the boys”. These are individual failings and administrative malfeasance and must be fought tooth and nail. They may come in the guise of tribalism but they aren’t….
Yaya Jammeh tried to drive a wedge between tribes by upping few of his tribesmen in key positions. As Madi Jobarteh stated in one of his posts, Yaya’s ploy was more for “survival” purposes than anything. While few fell for his stratagem and mimicked him, by and large people saw through his evil plot and didn’t buy into it…..
Are the dismissals and arrests we are witnessing a tribal witch hunt? That is false….. Others from other tribes are coming under the axe. Yaya used these people as his cat’s paws, to perpetuate his nefarious actions, anyone who has a price regardless of what. If they are being arrested now it is more to do with their past than anything else.
Those who are peddling this tribal thingy might not be showing their true motive to us. More to it than meets the eye.
No monotribe and none should be forced to fit the other tribe…. Each should be proud of belonging to his or her tribe without being condescending. And sooner than later tribe or language might disappear…. The children of this generation are more fluent in the English Language than their mother tongue and identify with no tribe but the global.
By Njundu Drammeh