Tribalism is a curse



“Advocating or practising strong loyalty to one’s own tribe or social group.”


When I was a kid, I barely knew tribes that made up Namibians.  Having to grow up in a small town with mostly Wambos, I had little knowledge about other tribes that made up a “One Namibia, One nation”.  Namibia with the slogan of uniting, a slogan of peace, to me it seems more than mere words. Well tribalism is all over the place in Namibia.  Without knowing different tribes of the country, I could only hear my elders talking ill of other tribes.

I don’t know what issues they had with other tribes, or maybe they just had to pass time chattering around.  I would hear that certain tribes are bad, they do not save, they are dirty, they are not smart, and the list goes on.  People would constantly point out faults of other tribes’ e.g. when watching news they would bring up why certain plans are failing because leaders are not Wambos.  I cannot specifically say tribalism exists only with the Wambo tribe, but within most tribes in Namibia and it’s encouraged by the global village in which we live, since division weakens nations.

I believe tribalism in Namibia is inborn, probably passed on to generations and generations as long as parents have the same story to tell.  Tribalism is responsible for many misfortunes in Namibia that leads to the slogan of “One Namibia, One Nation” Slogan flattery. 

When I talk of tribalism, I do not mean a custom pattern, I do not mean a trend – Probably you wish I did. Here, tribalism is the act of judging and condemning someone ONLY because they are from a certain tribe or social group. Most people suffer from ethnic conflicts, some more than others, because they belong to a certain tribe that is found to be inappropriate or simply not ‘us’.

Namibian people have the disease of ethnocentrism, simply believing that their tribe/ culture is better and more important than any other culture.  Tribalism to us is a profanity. They would stick to their culture, they become hard nuts to crack, hard-headed beings.  So how does this influence the country’s growth and development?

People like me have heard from the grapevine when Namibia had his Excellency Dr Hage Geingob as the newly appointed president.  Yes he is the first of the Damara tribe, well-educated and yet a leader, but what did we get from the grapevine? The infamous rumour mill had a different and more negative perspective on the newly appointed leader.  People have been judging the book by its cover.  The scuttlebutt could only apprehend negativity, even before Dr Geingob could start with his term.  This is why I’m saying tribalism is getting in the way of economic growth

Yikes politics! Let’s switch from that to romance, yes, Love always finds a way.

Parents advise their children against marrying companions from other cultures grounded on stereotypes propagated by society.

“Never get married to a Nama, they cannot save, they will starve you to death. What will you give the children?”

“Don’t get involved with a Kavango: don’t bring evil in our family, Stick to your own culture!”

Ethnocentrism and tribalism behaviours have negative effects on love as well.  Who said we have to stick to our own cultures only! Why are we united as a one nation then?  Some parents will disapprove relationships of their children because the partner is not of their culture. Love has no barriers, it doesn’t see culture, it speaks for itself.  When my man loves me in the heat of our cold nights, he loves ME not my tribe.

Tribal stereotypes are a curse, and they are breaking down communities.  People need to understand this; our parents need to understand this.  We are not in war anymore, why put us in a cage and restrict engaging with others? Why would we see the negatives always rather than looking at a brighter side?  We are made equal, each with own flaws, each with certain characters, but we are alike in some way.

No tribe can be perfect, and no tribe can be as dumb as your thoughts tell you.  I trust to build a nation and shape each other we should be sensitive to other cultures and study why they do what they do, analyse their cultural patterns and understand rather than judgement.  It doesn’t mean if I’m not Herero, or a Wambo, I am less of a human being. When I bleed my blood it is as red as any one else’s.

What are the Stereotypes you know of based on culture? I would love to hear your experiences, please comment below.

©Lady Twiiti 2017







15 thoughts on “Tribalism is a curse

  1. “A one Namibia one nation that is not so one Namibia one nation”! When it comes to love alone, I personally was told to not even dare associate with Kavangos but I secretly loved (still love one) but I will probably turn yellow the day my uncles or mom hears about it. Just that he is not mine I could have rubbed him in their faces

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wisdom, Courage, Faith, Hope… I see forms of that aspect in humanity, amongst its many cultures across the world. Fear, fear of change, fear of the unknown…it creates prejudices against people of the same race, of different races, and/or different cultures. The greatest and saddest irony is that the solution should be simple, as we are all brothers and sisters of the human race. Unfortunately it has been human nature since the beginning of time which creates the prejudices, separations, tribalisms. One may be proud of their group, their family, their tribe, yet it is the truly beautiful and brave that accept the members of other groups, families, and tribes as one and the same. Overcoming fear, pride, arrogance, greed, hatred…God willing, the time will come for people to understand we are all members of the same tribe. Thank you so much for sharing, you’re definitely one of the beautiful and brave.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Raymond. As long as tribalism and ethnocentrism continues within us, we will never fully develop and be a good nation. These things break down the nations. Thanks for reading.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Where I was raised, my mother would say, “Never marry a this-and-such man, because he’ll be nice to you in our country, then take you home to his and be horrible to you.” I married one and never had that problem. But that is what she would say. Even now she insists, “Oh, he is an exception then,” because she refuses to see his people. She tells herself a story.

    Another example is, before I worked in Japan, people would say, “Oh, they give you no privacy,” but the thing is, in Japan there is a sense that people care for each other and it is lonely alone. That is the culture. People are encouraged to find a group of like-minded people. Whereas a Japanese person might think that where I come from, that people don’t offer to help each other, when in fact much of the culture (at least where I grew up) was no one wants to be a bother to each other, so they are embarassed when someone takes care of them or is inconvenienced. The behavior of each culture seems strange to the other.

    There are two problems at the heart of these examples, misunderstandings and assumptions, and I think fear stops these from being remedied. When people fear, they do not talk or try to understand, and the misunderstandings and assumptions continue. This is especially hard when they are passed on to children, because children learn from their parents’ feelings before they learn from words and thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly, parents misguide children. Of all my siblings, I’m the only child that came out accepting other tribes, i think i was too stubborn as a child then. My parents still won’t approve any relationship of other tribes, our people are still tribalists here, i hope one day they would understand

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  4. Your post is magical. You allow yourself to think with your heart. You can place yourself within another and look out through their eyes at you! You see diversity and at the same time unity. This is a gift – thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is beautiful. some sought of gift you have giving me reminding me of the same inborn curse we have here in Nigeria.. the manner at which you are able to create a connection is awesome, from paragraph to paragraph you were explicit. thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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