There is need to re-educate or re-orientate our psych on tribalism and religion in Nigeria. These two words have created a pattern or legacy of hate and suspicion we carry like a mantle.
Let’s start with what a tribe is, it is a society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader. Tribes occupy a particular territory and live by codes of ethics that can be enforced within the tribe.
Basically, it’s a group that has something in common.
Tribalism, however, is a social phenomenon associated with the identity of members of a competing communal group seeking to protect and advance their interest socially, economically, and politically in which people are more loyal to their tribe than to their friends, their country, or any other social group.
It is the state when people are organized by tribes and their lifestyles.
While a tribalist is a person who boasts about the merits and good qualities of the tribe, but refuses to recognize its bad qualities and faults, has no respect for other tribes, Shows favoritism towards people of their tribe, is picky when it comes to people who do not belong to the same tribe, Gives all the privileges to his people but tries to exempt them from any obligations and duties when it comes to humiliating and dangerous missions, Firmly believes that people from the other tribes are not worthy of help, sticks to the stereotypes against them, Prefers marriage only between the members of a native tribe, as opposed to the intertribal marriages.
This subject is crucial because, while tribal societies have been pushed to the edges of globalization, tribalism is arguably undiminished; because it is founded upon intense feelings of common identity that leads people to feel connected. It is often more about “feeling” of commonality than actual commonality; and that is why it is as powerful in Africa.
They pose several challenges like Competition, exclusion, shunning, discrimination and elitism, they think of persons outside the tribe as the enemy, they do not compromise and tend to think their position is the only way. Some are aggressive, but more often they are subtle and covert.
There are more than 300 Nigerian tribes and but the largest and most famous ones are Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa. All of them have their own customs, culture and beliefs. Sometimes, these tribes misunderstand each other because of their different worldviews, and this is one of the biggest social problems in Nigeria nowadays.
Tribalism influences many spheres of life – for instance, quite often competent workers is overlooked because of their tribal identity, goods are overpriced because you’re not of same tribe or can’t pick out what they say.
I’ve been victim of tribalism a lot of times simply because I look like “this tribe’ until I decide to actually speak the language (Oh shit).
Since there are so many ethnic communities in Nigeria (I can’t count more than 5) there is a high chance that some of them will be unseen and unheard, and their opinion, in the long run, will be made unimportant.
Effects of tribalism in Nigeria
Tribalism obviously has an extremely negative effect on Nigeria’s unity, and in some cases, can even be life-threatening, because some people are ready to do anything to stand for their ideals. The tribalist experiences of the other countries show us that such division brings nothing but conflicts, fear and exclusion. To become a really strong nation, we have to accept each other with all the differences and try to find the compromises in a peaceful and non-violent way.
We are stock in a nation where election processes have become a religious and tribalistic affair
Once it’s time for election, the tribalism creeps out. Yes! We have a high number of illiterates in Nigeria but at the same time we also have quite a number of literates. Yet, it seems to me as though the so called “literates” have joined the ignorant wagon and are seen to act irrationally in the aspect of voting, “He is Igbo? We’re voting him in” not minding his abilities or not. As majority now vote based on religion and tribe rather than competence. Where has Unity disappeared to? Where is our One Nigeria?
Tribalism causes Division and it is selfish.
Conflicts in Nigeria most often link with religion or ethnicity, and mostly deplored to settle economic and political imbalances; breeding the evolution of ethnic militias such as the Bakkasi Boys; Movement for Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB); Odua People’s Congress (OPC), Egbesu Boys; Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND); Arewa Forum; Yandaba; Boko Haram; Ombatse group; etc.
The impact on tribalism isn’t far-fetched, it has eaten deep into us whether at home or abroad.
Politics of Division: Current political tension in the country is mainly as a result of avoidable clash between forces of democracy and that of tribal interests.
Promotion of mediocrity and suppression of justice: tribalism flourishes in Nigeria mainly because it is an effective tool that gives the user an edge in the eternal struggle to gain government patronage (i.e. political appointments). After getting the appointment, tribal sentiment is again used as a cover to abuse the office, and then to escape justice after leaving the office.
Employment: Guarantee of employment or award of contract in public service is a function of one’s tribesperson in position of authority. The phrase “it is our turn” was coined from this practice. A qualified person might not get his dream job just because ‘difference in tribe’
Distrust: Due to distrust, confidence on objective and legitimate issues of poverty and environmental pollution in the Niger Delta is trivialized as ‘Ijaw’ issues or as ‘Ogoni’ issues. A Yoruba man wouldn’t trust an Igbo man immediately, the doubt arises first.
Inability to Fight Corruption: There is a tradition in Nigeria that forbids citizens from exposing or prosecuting fellow tribesmen for corrupt practices. Corrupt tendencies are exhibited and laws violated, yet such individuals invoke ethnic sentiment to get away from, or prevent prosecution.
Getting an apartment: landlords are always careful and watchful of the ‘kind’ of people agents bring to their houses. They tag some kind of behavior to a certain tribe and warns against such tribes.
Marriage; The inter-tribal marriages are discouraged in some tribes or household like a human have control over love. There are no significant reasons why the Igbo and Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba, or Hausa and Yoruba couple should not get married.
If Nigerians show their strongest qualities and learn to get along with each other regardless of their cultural and social differences, Nigeria will become a nation instead of a territory.
The greatness of a State lies in her diversity and unique talents cultural reorientation on the beauty of diversity Instead of pointing out each other’s differences and blindly following the stereotypes, people need to learn to see good things and possible contribution to the future of the country in each other. Today, the young generation is really aware of how important is tolerance, and how much it helps to build healthy relationships between people
The problem of tribalism should be more publicized, this way more people will learn about it and contemplate the issue. People should learn and understand at least the basics of the other languages. It will significantly tone down the misunderstandings between different tribes. That is why the major tribe languages (Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa) have to be included in the schools and universities all over Nigeria.
I am grateful that food is one thing amongst others that brings us together, we as a nation needs too do better, have more friends and acquaintances from other tribes and communicate with them often, we need to have common values and patronize the music, arts, and various other goods made by the fellow citizens. Most importantly, we have to be proud of everything native.
We have to erase the tribalistic approach to education and teach our children to be accepting of each other. We are all Nigerian, and in our differences lies our strength. It is a great mission for us to teach our children to be conscious of their Nigerian identity and unite as Nigerians, as well as accept other cultures.