Beware of tribal politics!
Tribalism and or regionalism, I believe, can sometimes be positively applied or practised for a good purpose. Most times though, perpetuators have sinister motives for being doggedly tribalistic and regionalist.
In the context of greedy and vexatious politics, tribalism and regionalism should not be the road to go; their devastating effects on national peace, cohesion and development cannot be overemphasized.
A bitter memory of tribalism in African politics is the Rwandan genocide between April and July 1994 during the Rwadan civil war. An estimated 500,000 to 600,000 members of the Tutsi minority ethnic group, as well as some moderate Hutu, were slaughtered by armed militias in the name of tribalism.
Fortunately, in Sierra Leone, as far as my memory can take me, there has not been any major incident of tribal killings at an alarming proportion; and I pray it does not happen!
Indeed, there has been a semblance of tribalism and regionalism between the north-western dominated tribes and the south-eastern predominant ethnic groups punctuated by unlawful sackings and vilification of tribesmen deemed to be on the other side of the political divide, when Government changes hands.
The good thing is that the civil war waged by the Revolutionary United Front rebels in the 90s was not based on tribal or regional lines; it was about a “rotten system” that needed to be thrown to the dustbin. Of course, the conflict degenerated to a brutal carnage that defied human imagination.
It is against this mind-troubling reflection that I see the unfolding tribal and regional sentiments rocking the opposition All Peoples Congress party as a bad sign for the potential demise of not only the party, but also the doom of national stability and peace.
Agitation for political leadership should not be branded along ethno-regional lines; as an institutional party, the APC should have grown above parochial tribal sentiments and espouse democratic principles for its existence. As the founders envisioned, the party should embrace every Sierra Leonean from every nook and cranny of the country, regardless of region, tribe, creed, complexion, status or academic title. In fact, the APC takes pride at its being a grass-root party, with an ideology of salvaging the poorest of the poor, the downtrodden, the common man in the street. No one tribe or region can bring victory to the party at any given political contest; therefore, it is foolhardy for any tribe or region to consider themselves as the sine qua non for the survival of the party; the leadership of the party should not be seen to be dominated by one region or tribe.
It is indeed a foregone conclusion that the small but powerful inner core playing the tribal and regional card for the leadership of the party, are doing so at their own detriment because, a fragmented party would not provide the required stage for members to participate. Already, the trend of litigation against the party is nothing to write home about, threatening the very fabric of its existence and viability to discharge its constitutional mandate as an opposition in the interest of good governance and checking the excesses of the powers that be.
On this note, I would end this piece by re-echoing the statement by the Chairman and Leader, for all and sundry to refrain from practicing “munku” (crude) politics. And this applies across the political spectrum, to both the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party and the opposition parties. Sierra Leone is bigger than any one of these political parties. It is therefore incumbent upon politicians to put their selfish and parochial interests in the back burner and allow the national interest to reign by giving peace a chance and do away with tribal and regional politics.
By Abdul Kuyateh
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