Essay competition national winner category 1: Pupils in Grades 10 to 12








We talk about failure of development, but how is development supposed to come about with the aspect of tribalism in Africa? With reference to the Oxford Dictionary, “A tribe is a group of people united by ties from a common ancestor with the same leader, race, custom, language, religion, etc living in a particular area. Tribalism is a way of behaviour based on being loyal to a tribe rather than to their friends, country or any social group. National development is the ability for a country to improve the social welfare of people e.g providing social amenities like education.”  Therefore, national development cannot be achieved with tribalism as a normal way of living.

One effect of tribalism is the inability to fight corruption because of a belief that will be forbidding citizens from exposing or persecuting fellow tribesmen for corrupt practices. Corruption is the dishonest, illegal behaviour of people in authority. With reference to a newspaper article in Kenya on 30th November, 2011, which states, “Tribalism in Kenya is responsible for under development due to corruption, rigging of election and violence.” This shows that tribalism needs an urgent to stop.

Secondly, the guarantee of employment or awarding of contracts in public services is a function of ones tribesperson in position of authority. There shall be no mediocracy as people will be given jobs based on tribe regardless of having low qualifications. Hence, the inefficient use of available skills leading to under development.

Tribalism in Africa causes problems, it is fracturing the continent. There is animosity, distrust and hatred among various tribes so that even intermarriages among some tribes is strongly discouraged by the older conservative generations as well as rural folk. Therefore, tribalism is an enemy of peace and peace is part of development.

When we look at politics of division like the current political tension in our country Zambia is mainly as a result of avoidable clash between forces of democracy and that of tribal interests.

The political power- play in the name of building consensus within political party structures have negatively influenced a tradition or emerging mentality of political office between the North and the South.

This takes me to my reference to a newspaper article from “Daily Nation on Friday, November 6, 2015, where a concerned citizen reports a political party leader telling North-westerners to keep ‘outsiders’ away from their province. This is wrong because it can cause civil war.

In political atmosphere ‘leaders’ appeal to people of their own tribe when they want support. They also use their tribes as leverage when they are begging for positions and favours in government. Favouritism is when the division of material benefits and distribution of material sources.

It persists since it provides an avenue in which state ‘goods’ and favours trickles down from those in power to their tribesmen. Nowadays, African politicians are using tribalism to get votes from people.

We saw what happened in Kenya, Rwanda, Ivory Coast, etc, where people for someone from the same origin as the president. Therefore, it is a wrong mentality because it is creating conflicts among Africans and also hindering development to the whole nation, but instead only to certain parts of the country.

Bad governance and lack of accountability is also linked to tribalism as people will never question the government run by their tribesmen even if it makes mistakes, they remain supportive of it firmly and blindly.

Promotion of mediocrity and suppression of justice makes tribalism to flourish in Zambia mainly because it is an effective tool that gives the user an edge in the internal struggle to gain government patronage ( i.e political appointments). After getting the appointment, tribal sentiments is again used as a cover to abuse the office and then to escape justice leaving the office.

If Africa can fight tribalism, it can be a better continent, irrespective of the face that Africa is too big to be just a continent and too small to have large resources it has.

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