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