Racism and tribalism have long existed in the history of mankind. Other people take it to be fun not knowing it affects a fraction of society in any given setting and others take it to be mockery of sorts. For example, some Ugandans are insensitive of other tribes calling and branding them with all forms absurdities.
Therefore if not well handled, tribal and racial differences can either build up or tear down communities and neighbourhoods.
Different reports that have been written suggesting that racism is not an innate characteristic that is learned, as people grow older. Case in point, some people believe that seeing a certain race say a black face, it triggers a stronger response in the amygdala (part of the brain that controls emotional response and threat detection).
Eva Telzer published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience based this on a study. The study found out that the racial sensitivity of the amygdala does not kick in until around age 14. The study further shows that the more racially diverse your peer group is, the less strong the amygdala effect. The authors of the study further wrote, “These findings suggest that neural biases to race are not innate and that race is a social construction, learned over time.”
One interesting thing that I have found out recently is that tribalism has affected our thinking, especially when the tribes are based on different thinking rather than the geographical set up.
This has really distorted our thinking and has entirely rendered us predominantly irrational. This is seen in our social gathering even in our neighbourhoods and more recently on social media.
How is Tribalism and racism perceived in the bible
Uganda just like many other African countries in the Sub-Sahan Africa are are predominantly Christian. Just as it is known biblically, tribalism and racism are taken to be a Sin.
Racism is more than a societal problem that is morally and spiritual issue. Racism is taken to sin because it prevents Christians who harbour it in their attitudes and actions from obeying Christ’s command to love our neighbour (Matt. 22:39) and our neighbour is any other human being (Luke 10:25-37).
Racism is also a sin because it has its roots in pride and arrogance (Proverbs 13:10; 16:18; Isaiah 2:17). This sin is said to have originated in Lucifer’s desire to elevate himself above the throne of God. Note the egocentric language in Isaiah’s description of Lucifer’s desire.
Esmond DN once said “We can not fight racism in all its forms until we realize that racism is not a Black or White problem; it’s a sin problem. When we act in prejudicial ways towards others, we actually glorify Satan”.
How it is perceived elsewhere
Allow me roll the dice a little bit. In South Africa (during the era of Apartheid) and in the United States of America, blacks were never allowed to attend the same schools with their white compatriots not even riding on the same bus. This problem lingered on before the likes of Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X stood among others and spoke against it.
I was equally taken aback while in India with the Caste System that divides the Hindus into four main stratums namely; Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and the Shudras. This is further divided into 3,000 castes or there are about and 25,000 Sub-Castes with each based on their specific occupation. Meanwhile, out of the Hindu caste system there are the Achhoots known as the Dalits or the untouchables who in most cases do the least jobs.
We should not forget the indigenous people of the world who are thought to be 5,000 people and speak more than 4,000 of the nearly 7,000 languages that are still used today, and whose bio-cultural heritage plays an important role in the protection of the diversity and the ecosystems are still left to fight for life based on their natural being. But that is not my point today, let it be for another time.
Difference between Tribalism and Racism
Well, allow me take you to how scholars differentiate these two terminologies. Nwaigbo F. describes tribalism as the attitude and practice of harbouring such a strong feeling of loyalty or bonds to one’s tribe that one excludes or even demonizes those ‘others’ who do not belong to that group.
He goes ahead to say that tribalism thus prompts one to have a positive attitude towards those who are connected to him or her through kinship, family and clan, and it de facto (directly or indirectly) alienates one from people of other tribes who are not related to him or her by blood, kinship, family or clan.
On the other hand, Merriam-Webster describes racism as “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capabilities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.”
Therefore, tribalism and racism in the modern day history constructs of and within our societies is based on the prevalent conditions of cultural, political, economic and social leanings. The more we glorify it, the more it will engulf us all and make other communities go into arms with the other.
In her article, Harriet Anena wrote about how President Idi Amin killed two thirds of soldiers, out of a total of 9,000 men in his first year of power. “By the time Amin was toppled in 1979, the smell of death and fright hung over Uganda”. This could easily have culminated into what Rwanda went through in 1994. So do we as Ugandans want to see this (retaliation) happen again or be replicated not only aerated by the leaders but as citizens because we label other tribes with insanities and take them to be of a lower caliber? I hope not!