Essay Competition Consolation Winner


Essay Question: How does tribalism affect national development?

Category 1: Pupils in Grades 10-12

Name: Martha Ngambi

Age: 17

School: Munali Girls Secondary

Grade: 12

District: Lusaka

In so many parts of the world, we have seen the rise of wars and conflicts as a result of tribal careless talks particularly in Africa over the past decades.

Tribalism is defined as a strong identity to one‘s tribe or group which is mostly accompanied with negative feelings for people outside that tribe or group. A tribalist is a person who thinks his or her tribe is more superior than other tribes.

In Zambia, tribalism has been more on the theoretical aspect and not practical .However, there are also considerable element of tribal inclinations in the country particularly in the political areana. It has been said that tribal politics in Zambia has been a legendary song that every Republican President has danced to. Zambia has a total of 73 tribes which are most;y not satisfied with the unjust way political positions and resources are said to be distributed across the country.

After 50 years of independence, Zambia had so far six presidents. Out of the six, two have been coming from Northern Province, two from Eastern Province, One from Luapula and the other one from Central Province. It is clear that Zambia has been rule by leaders from four provinces out of the ten provinces.

Tribalism started right when Zambia was declared a one party state by President Kenneth Kaunda. Generally, Zambia’s political history has been based on tribal loyalties. For instance, during the rign of the first President Dr.Kaunda, Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe was the Republican President in both the party and government. Later on, Kaunda told Kapwpwe to step down as vice president because he felt Zambia could not have two leaders from the same tribe in the party and government.

The talks of tribalism momentarily subsidised during the reign of the Second Republican President Frederick Chiluba because he made appointments which were seemingly based on merit with a balance representation of leader from different tribes. With our current President, tribal talks have not been raised much as most of the people have stated that his cabinet is made up of people from different tribes. And for the first time in the history of Zambia, we have the first female Republican Vice President who is Lozi by tribe while the President is an Easterner.

Above all, tribalism has negative effects on the national development. Firstly, tribalism breed nepotism which scholars have defines as the state of giving people jobs because they your relatives or you are related in somewhere. When jobs are given such basis, it means that the work culture of the country will be compromised. People employed on such basis tend to be lazy because they know that their boss who is a relative won’t tell them to change. This leads to reduced productivity and losses in the company. People with qualifications who are supposed fill these positions are pushed out.

Some tribes who are endowed with resources and good jobs in the country often tend to disrespect and/or even discriminate people from different tribes who go to look for employment in their offices. In a tribal society, checks and balances are mostly not done due to having connections of people in leadership. This therefore leads to misusing public resources as corruption becomes the order of the day.

Lastly, tribalism affects national cohesion in that people are tribal place their allegiance first to their tribe than to the nation. They concentrate on developing areas where they are coming from and where they were massively got votes. When this is done, it means that other areas in the country will remain undeveloped.

There is need to end tribalism before it spreads to all corners of the country as this may lead to tribal conflicts. National leaders both in the government and those in the opposition should come together and teach Zambian people that they should love one another because they a one people. Traditional leaders should also help in educating their subjects to respect other cultural norms of other tribes because these chiefs are the custodian of cultural values. They should tell their subjects to freely mingle with other tribes rather viewing them as enemies.

At individual level, one need to follow the biblical principle which says, ’Love your neighbour as you love yourself’’. The fact that you met a Bemba who was caught stealing, that does necessary mean that all Bembas are thieves . Conversely, when you met a Tonga who was selfish, that doesn’t mean that all Tongas are selfish. Therefore, let us love one another regardless of one’s tribe.  We should also put a One Zambia, One Nation motto into practice.

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