Sunday, August 4, 2013


True identity has nothing to do with the dress code, the skin colour,
the geographical location, the continent, the language or religion.
The truest identity is in being Human Beings.
It is said that the reason Swaziland is so peaceful is because it is a people that speaks one language. It is a people that can be technically categorized as a single tribe. Unlike a good number of African countries whose conflict has been fuelled by tribal differences, like the Ndebele and the Shona of Zimbabwe, and the Tutsi and Hutu of  Rwanda, Swaziland consists of a people who speak a single language, and therefore it is claimed by some that such has been the recipe to Swaziland's 'harmony'. 
Swaziland would be the perfect model for a straight forward thesis on a single tribe nation, if its traditional structures were not an entanglement of a countless number of clans. It can be argued that Swaziland has as many clans as it has surnames, or as few as the subjectivity within the tribal structure, but that again would be simplifying the matter because a single surname can be further complicated by the mothers surnames and at what hierarchy level those mothers exist within their clans and therefore further creating sub-clans within a clan. 

The rational is that tribes and clans are the preservers of language, tradition and culture, so it wouldn't be wise to discourage these institutions when the concern over their divisive nature is discussed. Proponents also argue that to snub these institutions because of inherent inequalities wouldn't be justified because inequalities exist everywhere even in the very democracies that claim to be representatives of equality. But mostly tribalism's claim to fame has been its existence as an institution for identity preservation. 

A misconception in comparing tribalism and democracy is that there is an assumption that democracy brings equality which is not true. Democracy establishes the principle of equality and it is the people that thereafter have to use that principle as a sounding board to establish a society as equal as humanly possible. In all known history there is no record of perfect equality, but democracy creates the space to work towards equality without any hindrance from authorities. What democracy does is that it insures that free-will is available to whoever wants to make use of it to achieve equality.

The advantage of science is that it encourages definition to the tiniest of detail, but such hasn't been the practice in the wide array of what would constitute traditional institutions. The lack of enthusiasm on defining can be attested to none other than the traditional authorities' reluctance to be controlled by a set of rules and the fear that if there was clarity on certain matters, the people would revolt after the inequalities are defined and exposed for what they are, hence the reason that in a country like Swaziland there is no endorsed document that defines the tradition and the custom laws. Such absence of defined traditions and traditional laws has brought problems where in the case of South Africa, the traditional institutions are allegedly unconstitutional, and the problem is that if they were to be reformed to be in line with the constitution, they would cease to benefit those that use them for accumulation. Actually it is plausible that if traditional constitutions were reformed to be democratic, they would cease to exist because what defines them as definable institutions are their main characteristics as vehicles of accumulation and control, and nothing more, and democracy discourages such.

Before understanding the institution of the monarch, appreciating that in being imposed upon, dispossessed and turned visitor in their own land, Africans have clung on to old ways of living, in a blind clutch not to lose sight of 'Africanism'. In this endeavour for self-preservation, a lot of Africans have resisted progress and change as such has been tainted by colonialism's claim that change and progress is defined only within the confines of its subjective rule. In a bid to reject colonialism, it might seem that a lot of Africans have rejected both colonialism and the affinity to change and to progress.  

Tribalism has two successive definitions. The first is basically what constitutes the formation of a people into the tribe, which is basically harmless considering that people organise themselves within societies. The second definition is what presents itself as the initial complex politics of the institution, when it is defined as the founding reality, and other tribes then becoming subject to what is considered as 'THEM'. As soon as the politics of US and THEM take root, it is also when the internal rank structures are being actively formulated, where the ability of being a good hunter or a valiant warrior can be deciding factors on placement within the food chain. Such classing is then decided by gender, occupation, age, and all manner of triviality in order to establish a well pecking order that does not promote any assertiveness.

In most Nguni cultures, it is discouraged to question what adults or ancestors perceive as truth.  If it has been established as fact, regardless if it makes sense or not, it must be adhered to. Those that even think of disobeying are hastily threatened with the wrath of the ancestors and that becomes that and a society develops single file mentality.

The truth seekers within the tribes have always been the youth and for times untold, the youth have been adequately suppressed by the traditionalists through all manner of tradition that stigmatises 'young opinion' therefore disregarding it as pointless opinion. When democracy reared its head within the traditionalist's dominion, the youth discovered an indispensable ally. Finally they had found a point of reference, and the traditionalists became demented as they tried to discredit it because it had come to establish equality where tribalism thrived on inequality.

Not only had democracy come to clean the house, but it was also threatening to disinfect the whole yard and send all manner of parasite to oblivion.  Highest within the tribe was the institution of the monarchy and how the traditionalist had swivelled the narrative that it should claim that the people’s identity lay in the survival of the institution of the monarchy. So began the fight over the conscious of the people. The monarch was threatening all manner of grovelling and violence in order to remain at the apex of the leechdom.  Swaziland is the perfect example where the grovelling was at its best during colonialism, and the violence on the people being the reality thereafter.

The most deadly wars in Africa have been sustained by tribalism. When over-enterprising entrepreneurs and war mongers saw the weakness which was tribalism’s intense discrimination, they only needed a spark and tribalism ensured that the war remained perpetual while the wealth of Africa was plundered by all manner of unscrupulous character.

 Most wars in Africa have been sustained through tribalism’s ability to discriminate intensely, and the claim that tribes preserve identity is nothing but a claim. Tribalism does not preserve identity but exploits it for maximum control. Human kind has gone to the ends of the world in seeking to identify itself when its identity has always been closer than the hand. In seeking uniqueness, people have grouped themselves into pitiful cliques and thereafter invent an identity when the original identity of being a human being has always been available for all human beings to identify with. Human kind seems to be oblivious of the fact that identifying the self outside of the human whole is the very foundation of all manner of discrimination that has plagued it from times immemorial. There is nothing wrong with the naming of American, European, Swazi, and Ethiopian, but that should remain that, names differentiate and not identity; the identity is being a Human Being.

It comes as no surprise that the last absolute monarchy in Africa is holding on for dear life on this institution. It does not need a detailed analysis to figure out that were Mswati 111 to let go of the Swazi Tribe, there would be all manner of dethronement and demotion. The fact is that Tribalism wouldn’t survive in a totally democratic environment. The mistake that it was incorporated within the South African democratic structures is because it was a compromise to appease the traditionalists and those that clutch onto ‘tradition’ out of the fear of changing. The only way tribalism would work hand in hand with democracy would be in its first definition where it exists purely as the act of coming together of a people and not as a tool for control.       

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