Let’s Reject Tribalism & Nepotism and use our diversity as our strength.
By Mr. John Mading Mabor
Bentiu, UNMISS Camp
Day in day out, we live in a state of fear because of wars within, up and around us. Thinking that it’s not affecting us, we just shrug the issue off and continue with our daily lives. All these wars begun as a result of something, most of these being tribal conflicts. We may consider a tribal war as gnat on the toe of a giant, but these petty wars could explode into something greater, take for example the civil war in Libya; it all started as a result of tribal conflicts South Sudan has a similar case on its soil, we should be careful about how we handle the issue of tribal conflict.
This article is also an appeal to the powers that be, that they may hurry to solve these conflicts and that the people themselves take a stand to end the conflict.
To get a better understanding of what this article is all about 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?
My purpose of putting through this piece of writing is to show that tribalism and nepotism are first of all serious problems that are being ignored in our country and that they have crude consequences.
According to wikipedia.org
(an online based encyclopedia), Tribalism is a behavior, attitudes that are based on being loyal to a tribe or other social group. It is the very first social system that human beings have lived in. Tribalism can also be said as the possession of a strong cultural or ethnic identity that separates a person as a member of a one group from members of another group.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary also defines tribalism (among other definitions) as the exaltation of one’s tribe above others. In other words tribalism is the feeling 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. 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.
In South Sudan almost every tribe has such names for other tribes. Words like, Nyam-nyam’, ‘Jengee’ “Jang” etc are all examples of such derogatory words used to demean and disrespect people of other tribe. 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.
The word nepotism is from the Latin word Nepos meaning “nephew” or “grandchild“. Simply put: We will define Tribalism as the exaltation of one’s tribe over others, and then Nepotism as simply “square pegs in round holes”.
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.
As Africans, we must know how deep Tribalism and Nepotism has gotten into our society and the effect it’s having on our development as a continent and as South Sudanese we also see likewise. Let’s not consider these concepts to be something farfetched, in fact the trickle down effects of tribalism and nepotism are still prominent and ongoing in our country today.
First and foremost, let’s take a peek into our family situation. In today’s South Sudan, there are some families from particular tribes that do not allow socialization of their members with other tribes. One may doubt the existence of such ideas in modern times, but it does truly exist , with parents telling their children right from their infancy not to bring certain people of a particular tribe home ”in other words for marriage”. Therefore, looking at the current ongoing crises and the dimension it plunged this country into. Clearly this was as a result of tribalism and nepotism.
And the ongoing conflict might just divide our political parties along tribal lines and don’t be surprise in future when one of the political party pulling a faction of the populace due its tribal affiliations whiles another tribal faction leaning towards a political party. With the determining power lying with another tribal faction, such division is predictable considering how the defectors of the current crisis are from one tribe.
Furthermore, the ongoing situation in our country is glaring proof that tribalism and nepotism are eminent in our beloved country today, but looking at the root cause of all the crises and strife that happened was also as a result of conflict between two ethnic groups /tribes. Thus we can clearly state that the state of affairs concerning tribalism and nepotism is as it was in the past if not, has even worsened.
Considering ethical issues one would like to look into various sectors and look at them in terms of the problems that take place in those areas. Ethical issues or problems are found in Areas like; Family (inter-marriages), Work and employment, news agencies (news houses) Politics (politicians). Keep in mind, there cannot be anything ethical unless an issue of doing right or wrong is debated. Within the family, ethical issues arise as to when parents strictly warn their children not to bring any person from a particular tribe home in term of marriage.” This character is passed onto the children from a very tender age. Hence our serious tribal differences, division of South Sudan – not into regions but rather tribal sectors.
In addition, the issue of employment is a really serious one. Nowadays getting a job is no longer about qualification but rather about “who you know”. i.e. (if someone is from your tribe, you have a higher chance of attaining a job). The negative effects of tribalism in South Sudan are not farfetched. First of all tribalism breeds nepotism. Once people feel that their tribesmen are better than people from other tribes they tend to surround themselves with their tribesmen when get into positions of trust.
The tribalists are willing to hire people from their tribe who may not otherwise be the best candidate for the given job. Such actions deprive the nation of the right people for the right job. That is square pegs in round holes. (Putting unqualified persons in positions due to tribal relations.)
South Sudan Politicians in general are major contributors to these ethical issues. During elections these politicians tend to rely on the public’s weakness when it’s directed towards their tribal affiliations. Politicians know that they have nothing better to offer when it comes to issues of national development so by playing the tribal card they are able to skip the issues at stake and Dr Riek Machar is the case in point. They fail to recognize that their actions cause more harm to the very state they want to govern thus looking at the incidence of December 15 2013, the crises was by political party.
It is very important to note that tribalism and nepotism is tightly woven together, you cannot speak of one concept without mentioning the other and some of its causes are such as bad leadership, Selfishness by serving personal interests instead of the needs of the people, corruption, contribution from our political leaders – careless utterances and incitement by politicians polarized political issues.
Discrimination against members of different tribes which in turn encourages hatred among people of different tribes, which in turn could lead to all out wars. Contributing to social disintegration, and thus makes the resort to violence more likely-and more deadly.
If only tribe members are given certain privileges, people who are even qualified but do not belong to the said tribe would resort to paying bribes to attain the said privileges then corruption would only worsened and our economy will be slowing down since only people of the same tribe want to help each other as the rest suffer. – Negative growths of the economy as people serve their own interests and those of their relatives.
As South Sudanese we should embrace tolerance / peaceful coexistence – the ability to accept another’s faults, view and opinion, without hate or malice as well as encouraging inter-tribal marriages – this would create a mixed tribe, offspring’s of the union would not have specific tribal alliances and in employing, employers should look out for competence and not tribal similarities.
Tribalism and Nepotism are issues that our country faces and has to keep up with. Both lower the levels of development as they are the breeding grounds for corruption and conflict. Ironically, our leaders who are supposed to show us the right path and lead us to success as they work with us to develop and improve our economy are the biggest participants in it.
Doing unto others what we would want done to us and acknowledging that justice emerges when negotiating without social differentiation we see ourselves as tribal before national…it is high time we see ourselves as national before tribal…With one mind and one accord let’s be one people.
By: Mr. John Mading Mabor
, Public Policy Analyst
Deputy Chairperson of the Public Relation Society of South Sudan (PRS)
I can be reached on: Email: email@example.com