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Reminiscing ‘Die a Tribe and Be Born a Nation’ in Namibia

In a world driven by social media, the power of words and their impact on societal unity cannot be underestimated. 

Recently, a Namibian native took to social media on what is deemed as mocking of a minority tribe, drawing attention to the sensitive issue of tribalism in the country. 

This incident serves as a reminder that those from the majority or deemed superior should not mock or belittle those from the minority or deemed inferior tribes. 

In his journal article, titled ‘From to die a tribe and be born a nation towards culture, the foundation of a nation’: the shifting politics and aesthetics of Namibian nationalism’, Heike Becker, a professor in the department of Anthropology and Sociology at the University of the Western Cape, emphasises the significance of unity in culturally diverse countries like Namibia. 

With nine tribes, including Ovawambo, Ovaherere, Kavango and Nama/Damara, among others, Namibia’s Constitution recognises every individual’s right to practice and promote their culture, language, tradition or religion. However, the Constitution’s preamble highlights the importance of individual dignity, as well as the unity and integrity of the Namibian nation. 

Failure to unite in a culturally diverse country can hinder socio-economic progress. Scholars Keiko Ishii and Charis Eisen, in their co-authored article, ‘Socioeconomic Status and Cultural Difference’, argue that limited access to resources and education necessitate reliance on others. This reliance on diverse ethnic groups, tribes, countries, and races is the foundation of building a nation, as it provides better access to resources and education. 

Heike Becker’s emphasis on cultural diversity as a crucial element in nation-building holds true – not only for Namibia but for numerous African countries and the world as a whole. 

African nations have adopted unifying doctrines, such as the Ubuntu philosophy in South Africa, Ujamaa in Tanzania and the Uhuru movement in the United States of America. 

Ubuntu, Ujamaa and the Uhuru Movement encompass key African ideologies. Ubuntu, meaning ‘humanity to others’, emphasises the interconnectedness of individuals and their shared identity. 

Similarly, Ujamaa ideology prioritises the community over the individual, promoting communal living and advocating for economic practices aligned with agricultural development. 

The Uhuru Movement, founded in 1972, is a socialist and African internationalist movement, rooted in the theory of African internationalism. This theory provides a historical materialist framework to understand the social and economic conditions of African people globally.

These ideologies collectively emphasise the significance of community, interconnectedness and socio-economic empowerment for African societies. 

While these ideologies were prominent during the era of Africa’s founding presidents, they are diminishing over time. The writer rightly points out that the third wave of African leaders and their populations seem to be abandoning these premeditated ideologies, including Ubuntu. 

 Therefore, this article serves as a call to revive African ideologies. Namibia and the rest of Africa must transcend tribalism. Our societies should remember the essence of being born as a nation and setting aside tribal differences. 

Source : Neweralive