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Effects of tribalism on children

OVER the weekend I had an opportunity to interact with children, most of who come from inter-marriages for which Zambia is renowned for. Some children know their parents’ tribes or where they hail from but they do not speak the dialects of their parents because most of them only speak English as their first language. Although no known research has been conducted, almost every marriage that takes place is across the various tribes; not within tribes. This is the valuable legacy that our first president Kenneth Kaunda instilled in us at the time of independence more than 50 years ago. This is the motto that most Zambians hold dear, including our children who do not use tribal lens. Fortunately the children know no tribe because most of them are products of inter-marriages. It is common these days to find children with names such as Mulenga Banda, Mutinta Zulu, Nyambe Bwalya; these children view themselves first as Zambians before any tribe.
I would like to believe that I speak on behalf of all well-meaning Zambians that it was very disappointing during the just-ended campaign period to be exposed to so many and hurtful tribal comments. I have been left to wonder what kind of example, during this period, has been set to children born from these marriages; some of whom have roots in three tribes or more.  It was really hard to believe that Zambia is a Christian nation; some sentiments expressed were extreme, to say the least. All this was because most adults belonged to different political parties, it brought out the worst in some people – the tendency to be tribal. Tribalism is defined as an individual’s loyalty to one’s tribe or other social group and it is usually combined with strong negative feelings for people outside that group. Others use tribe to demean or discriminate against others.
Unfortunately, tribalism once embraced is insidious, and it controls behaviour and those who practise it fail to reason logically. In the name tribalism, people end up engaging in very inhuman activities such as violence and if not checked can result into war. Most wars are usually as a result of tribalism where one tribe feels superior to the other. Examples abound on how tribalism has divided so many countries and as a result most of these countries have failed to develop; where tribalism rears its ugly head, it draws any society back by decades because of the destruction and disunity that comes with it.
Tribalism should never be tolerated or even condoned by adults because it confuses children and young people, especially those from families that comprise more than one tribe. What should be noted is that all Zambians are made in the image of God and the only difference is the language. But it has become acceptable to generalise based on tribe. For example, people from various regions have been negatively labelled and stereotyped. This should not be the case, every individual should be judged upon based on personal merit or demerit or what they have to offer for the positive development of the country.
It is my hope that whoever is elected president after yesterday’s election will deal firmly with the issue of tribalism by criminalising as a form of deterrent against would-be perpetrators. If left unchecked, it this tribalism has the capacity to spread like a cancer which has the ability to affect the future of children and young people.
It should be the desire of every Zambian that we continue to be identified with the One Zambia One Nation motto in the next 50 years or more. It was not a mistake that Dr Kaunda and with his comrades came up this motto; it was with the understanding that in a country with more than 70 tribes there was need to find a way of maintaining this unity. They had good foresight and this motto was befitting.  Therefore, we should all try to operate within this motto by identifying each other as Zambians instead of tribe. especially for the sake of the future generation. And with all these inter-marriages that is where Zambia is headed to.
Remember, children are our future. Until next week, take care.;