Tribalism: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

By Yusufu Shehu Usman

The issue of Tribalism In Nigeria is as old as the nation itself, It predates the amalgamation of Nigeria of 1914 and the Independence of 1960
It has been the cause of the wars and devastation dating back many centuries
We have been talking about it In the national discourse and it will continue to take the front banner of issues militating against national development
But I don’t think that we can do anything to stop tribalism in Nigeria
All we can do is to find ways of reducing it’s negative effect on our inter personal and inter community relationships
The truth is that tribalism is a natural bond with deep seated sentiments.attached to it
No Nigerian can truly claim to be detribalised, as by nature, we all belong to one tribe or the other
It is only natural that we feel more comfortable and even safer in the midst and in the hands of persons we speak the same language and share the same attributes of culture with. That is Tribalism pure and simple
Therefore when issues arise on the question of preference, the average Nigerian is more inclined to trust a member of his tribe ahead of others who are not of the same tribe with him and this happens in politics as it does in other spheres of life
Of course, occasions do arise in which tribal sentiments are sacrificed for other considerations like material benefits and objectivity but in general, Nigerians are more attached to their tribal cleavages
That is why I still hold the old National Anthem which states that “though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand” as very apt and inspirational
It acknowledges our diversity in tongue and tribe but emphasises the brotherhood of all Nigerians in “one nation bound in freedom, peace and unity” as captured in our new National Anthem.
The phenomenon of tribalism is with us by nature and the there is nothing we can do about it
You can’t change your tribe and even if you denounce it, it doesn’t make you a member of the another tribe and this is so, even if you imbibe the language and culture of another tribe
Your blood belongs to your tribe and you can not change your blood.
May be that’s why in Nigeria, we have a common and popular saying that blood is thicker than water
I do not know that Nigerian who is not proud of his tribe no matter how backward some may perceive it to be
I have equally not heard of any Nigerian who has denounced his tribe or taken the ” tribal ship” of another tribe
I should not be misunderstood to be glorifying tribalism or advocating it as a good element in the conduct of our national affairs
I just wish to draw attention to the reality of our situation as far as tribal sentiments are concerned
We have agreed to live together in one nation or at least we have found ourselves in a situation where we must coexist with a multitude of other tribes in the same country and we have been so together for many decades
The message in this post, is that while realising and respecting our tribal diversity, we must forge unity and peace among us and work together for the progress, development and prosperity of our common nation
The objective is to build a nation where “no one is oppressed” and “in peace and plenty, Nigeria may be blessed”

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