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We are all one tribe

TUESDAY, August 16, 2016: Today can be called Black Tuesday in Zambia. The amount of tribal vitriol that I have heard today makes me sick. Suddenly we are forgetting that we are “One Zambia, One Nation”. We want to get rid of some tribes in order to be truly happy.
All this has happened a day after the announcement that President Edgar Chagwa Lungu of the Patriotic Front has won the presidential elections. In fact, the bitter stream began to flow soon after the announcement by the Electoral Commission of Zambia.
Facebook particularly was the worst channel. Accusations and counter-accusations kept that channel busy. Regional support for a party of your choice was called “a stronghold” while regional support for the other party was scoffed at as “tribalism”. Such is life!
I was on a bus where one man was talking to another, saying, “These Tongas think they can rule over us. Never! As long as they continue supporting their fellow Tonga they will never win an election. We have defeated them now. We will always defeat them.”
When someone tried to correct the two men who were talking, he was asked his name. He said, “My name is Tembo,” hoping that his name would show them that he was not a Tonga. To my surprise, they started calling him “Ha-Tembo” while deriding him angrily.
Tembo got so worked up that a scuffle erupted with terrible insults being traded between the warring parties. The bus driver had to stop and insist that they all get off the bus if they want to fight. That was how sanity was restored, though the tension still remained.
When I got home I was left really thinking. What is a tribe? Why should we ever think that a person’s language and region of origin should make him either good or bad? Why should supporting a tribes-mate, whether Tonga or Nyanja, become such a heinous crime?
I think it depends on how you are brought up. Parents who teach their children that their tribe is supreme and good while other tribes are inferior and bad will invariably nurture tribalists. Children growing up in such homes invariably judge others by their surnames.
Thankfully, there are many homes where parents teach their children the reverse; that as good as tribes may be, we are all the same because we are all made in the image of God. There is no essential difference between Tongas and Nyanjas if you look at their genes.
Also, we have one original ancestor. Adam and his wife Eve are the initial stock from whom all of us come. So, we have a common parent, whatever our current tribe or language might be. Even Europeans, Indians, and Chinese are all our brothers and sisters.
The Bible says, “God made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place” (Acts 17:26). So, the fact that we are in different places is simply God’s design.
We are also told in Genesis 3:20 that “The man (referring to Adam) called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.” In other words, every human being that has ever lived and will ever live comes from Adam and Eve. So, we are all one tribe!
It is vital that we teach children these truths so that they can sing songs like,
“Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world;
Red and yellow, black and white,
All are precious in his sight;
Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
Yes, children must be taught that God loves all human beings without discrimination based on skin colour or tribe. When they grow up and start voting, they will not vilify any tribe when they win or lose an election. They will know we are all one tribe loved by God.
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