By Grace Ashley
Tribalism is the behaviour and attitudes that stem from strong loyalty to one’s own tribe or social group, while racism is defined as prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed at someone of a different race, based on the belief that one’s race is superior.
These two terms have been broadened and divided into various phobias. Needless to say, racism and tribalism have left a trail of blood throughout history.
It is safe to say racism and tribalism have been uppermost in the causes of war and genocide on all continents. And they are still to be eradicated.
I feel troubled when I watch things like the H&M scandal, or US President Trump’s derogatory statements. I am not upset by the fact that these things happen because one can’t really stop someone from thinking the way they do.
A man’s thoughts – as long as they remain unvoiced – are the only private thing in this world. No amount of politicking can change that.
None of these things move me. It is the mindset of the people that concerns and distresses me.
We’re supposed to be an enlightened generation beyond the reach of dangerous heresy.
But sadly, that is not so.
I draw on my own experiences. My first encounter with racism was when I was in preschool, way back in the early 90’s.
My mother thought it was a good idea for me to go to Kingfisher Kids which was located in Kamfinsa, Harare. As time passed more black children joined the preschool.
One day while I was in the playground I happened to be playing under Mrs Greene’s window, when I heard one of my fellow preschooler’s mother upbraiding her for lowering the preschool’s standards by taking in so many blacks.
It wasn’t long before she took the child out of our preschool. As a young child I remember being puzzled by thew parent’s attitude.
Her child had many friends and seemed to enjoy their company. The episode didn’t upset me, but stuck with me to this very day.
Drinking from the same cup
The second time was when I was working for an Indian family in Benoni, Ekurhuleni in 2007.
It was a stay-in position. On my first day I happened to take a drink with one of the cups by the sink. My employer almost had a heart attack.
She gave me the cup and told me I was to never use anything else in the house. I was seriously tempted to use each and every utensil in the kitchen. I found this situation ridiculous given that I was the one who washed the plates, pots, cutlery etc.
The woman sincerely believed the sky would fall if she drank from the same cup as me.
Word of advice, if you’re nasty to the person who cooks your food you’re living dangerously. I never warmed up to that family. It’s human nature to love the ones who love us.
I left the job immediately afterwards.
I’ve had many more encounters during my stay in South Africa. I’m describing these events so that you know that I’ve experienced these things.
My point? I’m still standing and I’m moving from strength to strength in spite of the slurs. I’m a happy person on most days and I rarely get offended.
I mean I just love myself and I wouldn’t change me if I could. When will people realise that a person who holds a whip over someone or has to use derogatory words against others exposes themselves as weak. You don’t need to make a show of dominating someone who is already defeated. Black is the color of my skin, not the color of my heart.
By taking issue every time someone says or does something considered racial, we give evil ideals a conducive environment in which to grow.
You may be able to shut them up but you’re certainly not changing how they truly see you.
They call you a name you’re like a raging bull. They put a black kid in a monkey suit and you get apoplectic. It’s like an on/off switch. That’s how easy it is to get a rise out of you.
My parents never fought in Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle but I grew up with stories about how cruel white people are.
How they didn’t see blacks as human beings. But at the end of the day I had to make up my own mind.
I have a long list of people who are not black that I adore from the bottom of my heart.
Bad people exist in this world. If there weren’t any black people around they would still find someone else to pick on.
The true struggle has never been about color or tribe. The truth is racism and tribalism are tools of manipulation used by the opportunists throughout history.
Have we learned nothing at all from history?
Hitler and the Jews
Germany had serious problems following its defeat in WW1. The Jews were a perfect scapegoat during the campaign. And if the Aryans were to be superior there needed to be an inferior race. Result: WW2
The Jews and the Palestinians
Documented in the bible these communities have fought over land and supremacy. Their descendants have allowed the hate to continue to this day. Result: Continuous conflict.
Shiite and Sunni Moslems
In recent years, Sunni–Shia relations have been increasingly marked by conflict, particularly the Iran–Saudi Arabia proxy conflict. Sectarian violence persists to this day from Pakistan to Yemen and is a major element of friction throughout the Middle East and South Asia.
Ndebele and Shonas of Zimbabwe
The Shona’s were conquered by the militarily advanced Ndebele. They never forgot the past even after colonialism. Result: Gukurahundi
Blacks and whites in Zimbabwe
The natives were conquered by colonialists. Unequal opportunities and unfavorable land. Result: Land redistribution of land in Zimbabwe.
Lessons from history?
Forget the international community for a second and just think of the country you’re in. No one can right a wrong with another wrong.
We all need to grow and be the bigger man. No one can win the retaliation game. No amount of crying emoji’s, social media likes and news bulletins can fix war, loss of what you worked for and loved ones just because you were taken in by manipulators or are the victim of opportunists.
No-one ever wins but plenty will continue dying.
There are real problems being swept under the rug. Problems that will only grow. My friends and I often discuss our current town, Kempton Park.
We find it hilarious that white people always move out when black people move into a neighborhood. Not that I’m complaining. There’s always great real estate to be had after the exodus.
Africa is a big place but eventually it will run out of land for housing. Eventually there won’t be anywhere to run to. Running won’t fix the cesspool the colonialists and imperialists left behind.
Don’t leave problems for your descendants. Lose the pride. We’re all humans with similar needs.
If you don’t take action opportunists like the Robert Mugabe’s, Julius Malema’s etc will always have a leg to stand on. There is always a profiteer in times of war and unrest.
As for my fellow African brothers, what are we fighting for? Are we really fighting about clothes? Really? If you don’t want to buy that particular item then don’t.
Stop being victims of your own imagination. Surely you have bigger concerns to deal with.
I for one am concerned about my food, water, shelter, and clothing. Stop adding fuel to a fire that should have died a long time ago.
Change starts with me and you. Let the old generation die, their hate and prejudice with them.
Let’s give children of all races a chance at a peaceful future.
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