OPINION: Effects of tribalism on the peace and stability of The Gambia

Written by Omar Jallow

Tribalism

In the past years, there "existed" a cordial relationship between and amongst tribes as we all "lived" in unison and harmony while appreciating our various ethnic values. But in the recent past, 2016 Presidential Election to be specific, the cordial relationship between tribes started to receive indelible scars due to injecting tribalism into our Politics. Tribalism can be understood as the state of advocating for tribes or tribal lifestyles with little or no regards to others. 

Tribalism in any nation is usually a potential recipe to the downfall of that nation as it leads to conflicts, civil unrest, and division. 

Tribalism has become one of the biggest threats to our peace and stability as many conflicts and confrontations happening in our societies are due to tribalism or has tribal relation. Also, people are or become more loyal to their tribes than their country, thus committed to pursuing the interest of their tribe even if it is against the aspiration of the nation. 

Tribalism can cause many ills such as corruption, underdevelopment, civil war intertribal conflicts, corruption, nepotism, and ethnic division. 

Unfortunately, the trend in Gambian Politics is largely tribal driven — where people join political parties based on tribal lines and sentiments; a survey showed that in the 2016 Presidential Election, voting was notably on tribal lines. 

Ethnicity has now become political persuasion mechanism as some of our political leaders use tribes in order to score political points and as a source of political mobilization which is definitely the least expected from our leaders. Succinctly, leaders should inspire followers to be united for a common national plight, but sadly in the pursuit of political gains, leaders often disregard this critical responsibility. 

We Gambians should learn from the experiences of other countries that have experienced tribal conflicts; for example, Kenya in 2007 post-election violence was largely attributed to tribalism where many people lost their lives, and also in the genocide of Rwanda were about 800,000 people were killed in just three (3) months. Therefore, we Gambians should try by all means to nurture and strengthen our cordial relationship to avert such ethnic calamity. 

The only way we can end tribalism is by respecting and embracing our diversity and living in harmony while breeding the spirit that no ethnic group is supreme.

I, therefore, challenge the Government, CSOs, and other relevant stakeholders to engage citizens through vibrant sensitization on tribalism. Equally, I encourage all Gambians, especially the youths to stand up firmly and say NO TO TRIBALISM, as tribalism brings nothing but hatred, inequality and conflicts within and amongst ourselves. 

The Gambia is renowned in the realm of peace, love, hospitality, and harmony. So our common indelible responsibility as citizens of this great nation is to jealously safeguard and protect the reputable image of ours. 

By Omar Jallow

University of The Gambia