The scourge of tribalism

The scourge of tribalism

Earlier said, a night in the village is an experience that entrances the senses, dazzling the sense of sight with the beauty of the million stars spread out on the navy blue blanket of the night sky, tickling the aural sense with the varied sounds of creaking crickets in the bushes and croaking frogs singing solos or in chorus in the little ponds out of which they come on a nocturnal basis to serenade potential mates and to exhort the early spring rains to fall on the world made bare by the winter.
It is a feel as ironic as the feel of the chilled (not chilly) night breeze gently brushing one’s exposed skin on the long vigil, telling one that the cold season is almost past; for the rites of spring are here and the flowers are in full bloom as the indigenous calendar marks yet another new year. The air smells of the tantalising scent of moist earth and the cotton clouds promise rain as one wishes for a deluge in these drought plagued days of the fancy term ‘global warming’. Times have changed, and with them too the flow of predictable events that came with the time and the season.

Haphazard is the manner with which the events of time have been scattered by the hand of the careless human, wanting to be both the king of the world regardless of the fact that he is the youngest, wanting to be the lord despite being the most uncouth of the serfs of Mother Nature. Human nature is one strange phenomenon, an imposing monster of ever-changing facts whose change is as mobile as the scintillating shades of the irridiscent serpent’s slough, changing with the shadows.
Man is king when it suits him, servant when the times and nature prove too hard to deal with, a beggar when times are desperate and a snob when fortune’s whim turns his way. I guess that the human being is one lying entity, a creature of convenience of sorts at whose core lies the need to serve the self before thinking of the others. It is only when the human mind has developed fully that the human being thinks of others before himself.

In a state of immature mind, the human being is a dangerous entity that aims not at harmonising the world for the benefit of the entire world but for the benefit of only self. We are where we are as the world because of this immature tendency working in tandem with all other deplorable behaviours.
In a state of relative harmony, the relationship is symbiotic and mutually beneficial, ensuring that all involved and related get to gain from the universal sense of peace gained from the relationship of episode of cooperation. There is no sense of imposition but equal opportunity here, the spark is respected for causing the flame, and the farmer is honoured for producing the food for the community.
It is only when one sheep is considered better than the ewes that the equilibrium is disturbed, for then he takes all the credit and denigrates the effort of the other parties that were involved in his successes. The patriarchal systems of this world largely influenced by the matriarchs of the communities have led to the bitter results we now experience. For the want of little natural pleasures and to please one side of the human community, whole continents have been plundered of their resources, and battles have been fought on strange battlefields in the name of pleasing someone or ensuring that their name ranks above all the other names. The name is the standard and the banner of the tribe, and deeds honourable and horrendous are done in its stead.

I do not think the human creature began as a tribe, and it would be pretty hard to think that the first communal relations were on an exchange basis as capitalist tenets seek to justify. What set the human being apart from all the other creatures was the possession of the quality of freewill, the relationship between humans was not on a ‘favour for a favour’ basis but rather, it was on a ‘what do you need?’ basis. This meant that all parties involved got their share of what they felt they needed, no one had to have something for the next party to gain that which they wanted from such a party.
The idea of the tribe began with the opinion by the lesser willed human beings possessive of a nature contrary to the needs of the equilibrium. This is the type of individual that began to feel that there was something to be gained for the self out of the efforts of the community, and the slyness or malice learned from observing the lesser beings (the animals) dealing with nature in the manner it intended for them led to this individual influencing peers into being primates of a like mind. Armed with the ‘survival of the fittest’ mentalities of the lesser creatures, that human being began to be a danger to not only himself but also those that opposed his warped view of the equilibrium.

The conquistador leaves their land because they are told that there is more out there. Marauding as a clan of hyenas looking for carrion or robbing other predators of their quarries, the spirit of the wandering fortune seeker/s is the catalyst that leads to strife and instability wherever they set their foot. Afrika had Lifaqane because Shaka and company wanted to expand their kingdom and the figure of Shaka Zulu is only respected as much as it did because it resembles the ambitious manners of Alexander the Great and the pugnacious ways of Napoleon Bonaparte.
The little boy who felt he had been robbed of a birthright grew up to be a violent megalomaniac that almost burnt down an entire continent in his quest for glory. One finds the same mannerisms in present day cabals of political tribes whose primary quest is to rule and to govern ignorant of the basic demands of the prevailing circumstance and situation. It is a behaviour that sees countries and their continents regressing in the name of being labelled the biggest dog in the fight. This is the mentality that began the tribe, and however hard you may define it in such flowery terms as ‘division’ or ‘polarisation’ we are where we are as a planet today due to over-ambitious political tendencies whose economic policies are geared towards benefiting only a few individuals close to the leadership.

The indigenous land laws of this here land benefited everyone that could make a living off the land. Current laws are expansionist in form, meaning that only those with the means can gain from the ownership of land and can even buy more land than they need as the masses of the indigenous inhabitants go on to suffer in the clutches of endless hunger and starvation despite being aboriginal citizens. It is a fickle opinion to believe that one’s success is dependent on their tenacity of effort or the diligence of their faith. Believing that the world is a dog eat dog environment soon leads to the ignoring of the others that are equally important in the equation that summates the total successes of the individual.

It is of no use to succeed through the sweat and the toil of others and then to fail to acknowledge them at the end of the day. Such a type of mentality leads to the fallacy of entitlement where one party begins to think that they are the rightful owners of the means when the mutual contribution of the others got them to the state of wealth and prosperity that they experience at a given point in time. A king is a king because he has happy subjects, a king with unhappy subjects is no king but merely an owner of rebels that can dip his head in the water at any moment in time.
When Morena Moshoeshoe oa Pele gathered all the clans, he must have realised that the animal name of the tribal/clan totem actually meant nothing when it came to dealing with the scourges of endless war and strife that the Lifaqane was to the southern part of the African continent. He must have realised that people are not the animal names attached to their clan, but rather, Moshoeshoe’s wisdom made him aware that the roles the people played in ensuring continued harmony and stability needed to maintain the salient aspects of peace mattered more than the name attached. His rule lasted as long as it did because he met every man he met on a primal human level, not on the carpetbagging basis the current politician uses in deifying potential donors to the extent that such donors exploit the indigenous citizens of the land their forefathers fought and died for.

Divided along political lines, the tendencies of the land have degraded to levels where salvaging the little that remains of the Lesotho la Moshoeshoe will prove to be an impossible affair. The urge of the politician is not to salvage the land, but the quest is to prove that one is the smartest alec whose opinions can make it into some history book. There is seemly no intention or thought to emulate the honourable ways of the predecessors that actually marked clear paths into ensuring that this here land prospered as the motto on the coat of arms declares.
We had Morena Leabua Jonathan whose ways actually ensured that we prospered as a land and that we would not be short-changed by carpetbagging mercenaries posing as donors or mutual friends. There were clearly marked lines and borders to his local and foreign policies, but unfortunately, there was always this cabal of self-seeking snot-noses in the background whose efforts at progress have thus far only managed to disenfranchise the Basotho.

The words to the Peter Tosh song Get Up Stand Up borrowed from the words of Abraham Lincoln ring true if one observes the events unfolding in this land. The local politician seems lost to the real meaning behind the words:
You fool some people sometimes, but you can’t fool all the people all of the time, and now we see the light, we gonna stand up for our rights…
For extended periods, people have been sold the lie that all things will get better with the change in regime. What has instead been happening is that things have been getting worse for the masses, things are better only for those that get into Parliament. There are no clear answers as to why poverty levels are where they are. There is no answer from the relevant authorities as to the reason why foreign influence got to the level where the primary wealth of an entire kingdom has been captured by a single travelling merchant. The answers are there among those not feeding at the trough, and their word is conveniently left out of the discussion because some young hot-blood might lose out on their shady dealings with state capturers. It is not right that we sit and watch as dimwits mess all things up on the basis of their being elected into parliament and not on the basis of the veracity of their claims or the sustainability of their policies.

I watched with gladness as the youth in this country rose against the new machine termed ‘national reforms’ this past week. Their cry that the political side of the equation has more voice than the rest of the state combined makes a lot of sense. The entity that we call politics is what has actually led to the demise of the state, and it would be illogical to think that the cause to the disease that is plaguing the land could actually provide solutions on their own. What the political tribe in this country should learn and accept at this moment in time is that they should sit back and be tutored on how to save this kingdom from the mess that they got it into.

Being a politician does not mean that one is smarter than the rest of us; the fact of the matter is that the simple man in the village has better answers to solving the troubles caused by obscure development problems that are prevalent across communities in the land than a politician living on a stipend in Maseru. It is therefore right that the reform process should give more ear to the simple village folks than it has thus far.
Thinking that the word of the simple villager does not weigh much in paving the way for reform is similar to assuming that the substance of a tonne is not made by a gram. Such a type of thought pattern leads to the omission of the salient elements necessary to the implementation of the proposed reforms. Without the voices of the simple ones in our society, these reforms will be a farce similar to the failed visions of the past that never reached maturity. Of this I am sure, and I speak as a Mosotho and not as a party fan or member of a clan. At the end of it all: Ke Mosotho oa Moshoeshoe.

Ts’episo Mothibi

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