Mbeki: Tribalism rears its ugly head

2013-10-04 09:36

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

A resurgence of tribalism needs to worry us all, former president Thabo Mbeki has said.

Speaking at the Bethesda Methodist Church in the north of Johannesburg last night, Mbeki said Africa needed citizens who were agents of change to realise its dreams and opportunities for development.

He said the continent’s dreams for renewal were expressed in the policies of the African Union and did not need further elaboration, but the challenge was their implementation.

Mbeki said the prevalent idea that Africa was available for the taking should be contested by citizens, saying African people needed to take charge of their own future.

However, he singled out ethnicity as a major problem that had hobbled development in many African countries including Sierra Leone, where he said the two dominant parties had mobilised around ethnic and regional lines, eliminating any sense of common national identity among the people of that country. He said ethnicity had led to violence in Kenya in the aftermath of the 2007 elections.

“I suspect that we need to learn something from that (Sierra Leone) lesson. Because I see that worrying trend even here at home of the resurgence of tribalism, of people talking about this or other tribe,” he said.

Mbeki lamented the tendency of people to put up car stickers that proclaimed that they were “100% Venda” or “110% Tswana”. He said it was “sad and tragic” that it came up at a time when the ANC was celebrating its centenary last year. The party was formed in 1912 to “bury the demon of tribalism” among Africans and replace it with a national identity.

“I am sure all of us need to be very concerned about a regression to tribalism ... One hundred years later, this demon is raising its head,” he said.

Mbeki said there was nothing wrong with people celebrating cultural pride, but said the abuse of identity to define access to political power was a problem.

“If you wake me up in the middle of the night and ask me what I am, I’d say, ‘I am an African’.

“I might say I am African because my great-grandfather was Zulu, my father was Xhosa, my mother is Sotho. I have mixed blood,” he said.

Responding to a question about leadership, Mbeki said people did not need messianic leaders, but needed to be their own liberators.

He said such leadership caused people to disengaged, and to delegate thinking to their leaders.

It was also important for the growing economies of the continent to benefit the people, he said.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.