Alagi Yorro Jallow

(Jollofnews)- I want add to Mr. Sulayman Gaye’s brilliant augment and well written write-up on tribalism not in the Gambia yesterday, published: “There are no ‘Tribes’ in The Gambia” on his Facebook wall.

I agree with his hypothesis and as far as I am concern, tribalism is not African and not Gambian. It has been constructed by politicians, by the people who are stronger by dividing us. Gambians are not naturally tribalist. We are naturally human. That is why we love, laugh, work together and start families with each other.

So, the way to fight against tribalism isn’t to sing about diversity, about how we eat, drink, dance and marry differently. We fight against tribalism by fighting for justice for all Gambian, by sticking to principles that cut across ethnicity like the need for good system of education and good public healthcare. It also means that every time a politician tries to appeal to tribe, saying nonsense like “maybe your actions are politically motivated,” don’t justify yourself. Name the monster for what it is by saying “you are trying to distract Gambians from the issue I am raising by pointing at my ethnicity” and send that monster to the bottomless pit

Gambians need to forget this obsession with our tribes, and even with this diversity and love-one-another and respect-each-other’s-cultures hogwash. We need to start asking: what are institutions doing to foster nationhood? Essentially, it’s nothing. And that’s what will cause a meltdown.

Tribalism won’t be the root cause. Tribalism is like a flu: it’s simply an opportunistic disease that will take advantage of a Gambian society with no social immunity, a society where things are falling apart and the center cannot hold.

The Gambian people need to understand that the genocide in Rwanda was not about tribe: it was about institutions. The schools taught a divisive history. The churches preached it. The radios broadcast it and broadcast politicians who were spreading hate. The government armed the militias. It made the identity cards that indicated whether one was Hutu or Tutsi (although in many cases it didn’t work because some Hutus were killed because the drunk killers killed those they thought looked Tutsi). The then Rwandan government had diplomatic ties – it was even a non-permanent member of the UN security council and France supported it, so it got international protection from scrutiny as it killed Tutsis.

And no, tribalism is not naturally Gambian. I’ve said it repeatedly, in different forums, that we were set up to be tribalist by the state not allowing opportunities for Gambians to connect and interact politically across tribe. This is a project that started with the British and was actively encouraged by successive Gambian political leaders during and after independence and aggravated by the current breed of politicians rule the country. These are just a few of those ways.

This tribalism in diaspora story makes me realize that surely, we Gambians are a broken people. And the paradox is that, this ‘tribal racism’ doesn’t make the tribalists any beautiful but turns their minds darker and hearts ugly with hatred.