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Let us fight tribalism

By Cde. Charles Siyauya
As a first young person from Caprivi Region to be appointed to the Central Committee and later elected into the National Executive Committee (NEC) of SWAPO PARTY YOUTH LEAGUE (SPYL) in independent Namibia (1990) I have a duty to share my thoughts on tribalism with those who look up to me for guidance in the spirit of One Namibia, One Nation. Furthermore, I salute all comrades who made it possible for me to make it to the NEC. To you, I thank you most sincerely. The mentality of being loyal to one's tribe than to one's country or other social group is wrong. I am proud to be born and raised in Caprivi Region. However, I am not proud of the fact that tribalism has found a fertile ground in Caprivi Region. In other words, there is nothing wrong to belong to a tribe.

There is nothing wrong to practice as per the constitution of the Republic the cultural and traditional norms of that particular tribe. However, it is wrong to use one's tribe negatively and retrogressively and this is where we are seen by our fellow compatriots as possessing monopoly of tribalism in Namibia.

Let us face it. Tribalism is not profitable. It is a fact that, not everybody in Caprivi practices or specializes in tribalism. The authentic tribalists are numerically few but very tactical. These are disgruntled members of our community found in Public Service, in Political Parties, in Villages and even in Church of GOD. They have a strong say and influence within their community.

To them, tribalism is in their DNA and it is their second religion. It is a heritage but heritage from whom? Most of them are highly educated and are able to mislead traditional authorities to act as they wish. They target traditional authorities because traditional authorities are the custodian of values and norms. They use the tribe as a vehicle and people as tools to achieve their desired individual goals.

The reasons for practicing tribalism is always centered around competition over limited natural resources such as land dispute, grazing area, competition over government position, competition over government services, competition over political positions and even competition over church positions. They refuse to solve conflicts peacefully instead they resort to tribal conflicts.

Tribal conflict is not in line with the constitution of the Republic of Namibia. Tribalism has the potential to disturb peace, political stability and derail socio-economic development because no one will want to work or invest in a conflict area. The youth /graduates from Caprivi find it hard to travel or get jobs in Caprivi Region because of Mafwe / Subia factor. They migrate to other regions where they are employed based on qualifications and not on tribe. Some couples are divorcing because of tribalism and children remain victims of the situation.

It is unfortunate that instead of us investing our energy and time in eradicating poverty, hunger and diseases we are tribally sorting each other out as Subias and Mafwes. Even among the youth of SWAPO Party in Caprivi Region some brains are hard-wired towards qualities of tribalism. Our brain size is overloaded with tribal thoughts of how to destroy each other. We see no good in each other.

We see evil in each other. We mistrust each other. We mistreat each other. We misuse our position of trust. We misguide, misdirect and dilute the minds of the young people with tribal indoctrination. We make tribal mistakes but we do not learn from them. We misunderstand each other and yet we must build Caprivi Region together.

Tribalism invites misery. Our highly local leadership, including our able Caprivi Regional Governor Retired Colonel Lorence Sampofu and other few genuine Regional, Local Authority Councilors and other National Leaders are on record in warning us the residents of Caprivi to refrain from tribalism instead we switch-off our ears and switch on tribalism. I would wonder, if a Musubia and a Mufwe were to meet in London, would they run from each other or would they embrace each other as people from the some geographical origin? It is a question? And I need an answer, now.

Further, as a Student of Security and Strategic studies, I have observed that Caprivi Region has a high number of registered Private Security Companies compared to other regions. These companies are owned by Mafwes, Masubias and a white Namibian. Economically, it is employment creation which is good but security wise it is a security threat. Imagine a situation or should they be a tribal war in Caprivi, surely some of the owners of these Private Security Companies will use their guns and ammunitions for self-defense against other tribe. The end result will be loss of life, revenge killings, untold suffering, displacement of people and the list is long. This is a serious regional security threat and the state must think twice.

As a young person from Caprivi Region, I want to humbly and respectfully appeal to my elders at the left side of my body and the right side of my body because my body is them and I am them to guide me and all young people of Caprivi towards a progressive platform of ATM (Anti-Tribalism Movement) and say no loudly, NO to tribalism and yes emphatically YES to unity and nationalism. It is possible.

It happened in the past. Let us go back into history and copy the good / hard times when Mr Mishake Muyongo (Mufwe) and Cde Bredan Simbwaye( Subia) could seat together and plan about CANU, the golden days when our Traditional Chief were able to visit each other as one people. This is our time and the future is ours. We need to change the minds of some of our elders who are highly intoxicated with tribalism.

The growing line of animosity between Mafwes and Masubias must be solved by Mafwes and Masubias themselves. As such I propose a Joint Regional Conference to talk about tribalism, its manifestation and how best we can expose hostile elements who brew tribalism within our community. The regional conference resolutions could mount a more ATM concrete programme of action for a better Caprivi for a better future. Let us decide on the date, time and venue of the proposed Anti-Tribalism Movement Regional Conference in Caprivi.

I wish our Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture could spearhead the conference but we read from the newspapers that they are too busy with the plights of "prostitutes", "nonoshiwambo president", "and confiscating tape recorders from journalists"," boxing and running". So let us organize the conference ourselves and leave our ministry to achieve its set priority areas.

I remain open for new ideas or better alternatives from any progressive Namibians. To sign-up for ATM Regional Conference, please text your names to Cell: +264 811488640, now.

From: Charles Siyauya- National Executive Committee Member / Central Committee Member


SWAPO Headquarters Mandume Strt
Windhoek, Katutura