By Michael Woira
One of the biggest problem facing Uganda’s politics has always been that of “Tribalism and Nepotism” which has always eaten deep into our national fabrics and sense of cultural co-existence as a nation, thinking that these is not an issue to deliberate on, is like thinking that the gods do not exist.
We may consider a tribal war as gnat on the toe of a giant, but these petty wars could explode into something greater and un-resolvable, take for example the petty wars that happened in Kenya sometimes back after the elections; it all started as a result of tribal conflicts each person thinking their presidential candidate is the best and therefore is the one who should be president.
To get a better understanding of what I am trying to say here in my opinion, we would need to ask ourselves several questions such as; what is Tribalism? What is Nepotism? Do they exist? Why do people feel so superior about their tribes over others? On the other hand, why are some high level educated citizens caught in this uncivilized tradition?
First and foremost, Tribalism means a behavior, attitudes that are based on being loyal to a tribe or other social group. Tribalism can also be referred to as the possession of a strong cultural or ethnic identity that separates a person as a member of one group, from members of another group. It is also the fee ling that one’s tribe is superior to some other tribe or all tribes. As a result the tribalists have a disdain and often disrespect for the tribes they think are inferior to their tribe and they only think their tribe mates are the only understanding people. Such people therefore discourage association in any form be it marriage, work, or friendship with tribes they deem to be inferior. In most cases they have derogatory names for the tribes they deem to be inferior.
Nepotism on the other hand is the showing of favoritism for relatives or friends based upon that relationship, rather than on an objective evaluation of ability or suitability, for instance by offering employment to a relative, despite the fact that there are others who are better qualified and willing and able to perform the job. These two concepts are intertwined; you cannot speak of one without mentioning the other. They have been in existence since time immemorial and would continue to be, if nothing is done to check these concepts.
Over and over again tribalism has been practiced by many Ugandans especially those heading some few departments and government agencies and by just a mere presence at such offices you can prove my statement right. You can find one tribe uniting everyone from the receptionist to the very last person in that office and here I won’t mention some of the government agencies but let me give you an example of Mega standard supermarket where it is very hard to find someone from any other region other than the western region. Here the language used tells that nepotism and tribalism is much at play which isn’t bad for a private business of that nature.
Many Ugandans have undergone such frustrations at some places where they apply for jobs but fail to get them kindly because they are either not very connected or they don’t speak the language of the bosses of the agencies and departments where they apply for the jobs .I have been a victim of this kind of tribalism and nepotism but I have always played it cool because the people who normally do this are those that I very well know and also know who they have employed and why they employ them.
However, every cloud has a silver lining. We are becoming more tolerant and have started realizing that just because someone does not practice your culture or speak your language, they are not less of a human being. We are gradually realizing that killing each other or giving a job to someone in the name of caring and only minding about who speaks your mother tongue is nothing but sheer stupidity and ignorance.
To be clear, there is a difference between nepotism and good networking because at many times good networking has earned many people jobs but the biggest outcry against nepotism is that it flies in the face of fairness and does not allow those qualified persons to be recruited into service.
If democracy must prevail and benefit our society, then we revisit our concept of democracy and understand that while democracy offers freedom, and promise of a successful nation, it also challenges us to be responsible citizens. In extreme cases, tribalism dehumanizes and demonizes out groups. They tend to focus on what psychologists call the out group homogeneity bias, that is, individuals tend to see members of their own group as being relatively more varied than members of other groups.
Tribal issues is one tradition which I believe will hold Uganda back, and it is time to begin to think more about our people than thinking about tribes, that is creating division among Ugandans. We should therefore stick to what Uganda is known for, that is, the love, unity, harmony, and hospitality within ourselves, both in Uganda and outside The Country. We should not bring or adopt what we are not known for, and tribalism brings nothing, but conflict and hatred. I therefore call upon all those practicing this vice to stop it immediately.
The writer is a Pan Africanist