The government of Uganda has been accused of perpetuating tribalism by handing top government jobs mostly to people from one region of the country. A fascinating report in the Independent newspaper outlines the numbers and goes into the various potential reasons for this imbalance.
‘Tribalism’ is one of those words that Africans have learned to fear, and with good reason. The term refers to the practice of people from specific nations or ethnic groups using state power to benefit their fellow tribes folk at the expense of others. The European colonialists found many ways of whipping up divisions and resentment between different groups in Africa in order to further their own objectives.
The Berlin Conference of the 1880s (which could be looked at as a meeting of gangland bosses) created new geo-political entities across the continent of Africa. These countries, protectorates and so forth reflected the interests of the Europeans, and not the Africans. Hence, the new borders separated entire nations and ethnic groups in different countries. Conversely, a multitude of different nations were lumped together in new countries despite often having widely different cultures, social and economic systems, languages, and so on. And the British colonialists in particular had a penchant for ethnic divisions of labour. In Uganda they assigned jobs in the police and army disproportionately to nations in the northern part of the country, while they developed the political and economic power base in the south-central regions of the country. These and other colonial machinations resulted in simmering inter-ethnic tensions and resentment which were ready to boil over when Africans achieved flag independence in the mid twentieth century.
Uganda has made massive strides from the dark days of the 1970s and 1980s when ethnic conflict helped to sink the country into years of violent conflict. We should all be grateful for the relative calm and security in most of Uganda. However, negative tribalism must be eradicated from political life.in order for Ugandan people to move forward in true unity and cooperation,