Tribalism in Caprivi is a Psychological warfare weapon

Caprivi Strip nation emblem symbolizing unity among Caprivian people..

Tribalism in Caprivi is a Psychological warfare weapon


“As a Man thinketh, so is he.” Contextualized, if you think you are a tribalist then you are. If you think Caprivi is a world-class tribalism theater then it is. If you think we are divided then we are. Think differently, the opposite and it shall be so. James Allen teaches two essential truths in his book titled As a Man thinketh so is He: 1) that today we are where our thoughts have taken us, 2) that we are the architects, for better or worse, of our futures. This book was called “The Strangest Secret” by the father of modern day personal development, Earl Nightngale. He said the secret is “we become what we think about”.


Whatever happened to the Luyemi Hamoho legacy which literally means “Together We Stand”. This was symbolized by two elephants, firstly on Caprivi identity cards, and secondly on the Caprivi coat of arms. This represented the Masubiya and Mafwe Traditional Authorities and their people. It means unity. Some say it was a creation of the colonial regime which might be true, but let us not lose sight of the fact that tribalism was unheard then as today. Hence, I am confident to suggest that probably today’s tribalism in Caprivi (if it really exists) might similarly be a psychological creation by state.


Some people say, perhaps because of the negative impression potentially created by the media, that Caprivians are not united. In most cases, assumptions are that this said disunity is caused by tribalism while evidence (if there is) has never been so clear. I only hope it is not mistaken for nepotism, or unresolved tribal land disputes. Here, I define tribalism as discriminatory attitudes towards one another based on ethnic tribe.


Surely, tribalism must be a demon and whosoever is possessed with it need serious psychological deliverance. Remember the alleged horrors that Adolf Hitler performed on Jews in German concentration camps in the name of Nazi ideals of “racial purity”? Remember the genocide in Rwanda? Remember Kenya and Ivory Coast politically motivated tribal clashes?


I am not exaggerating what tribalism can do and I am not confirming that levels of tribalism in Caprivi are comparable to the examples given. I want to share my view on the issue with caution, attempting to unite the people of Caprivi by breaking down illusory barriers among us Caprivians, if tribalism is one of them. Reading and listening to opinions or news suggesting “tribalism is rife in Caprivi” must be thrilling. However, have we at any point thought if this said tribalism could be an illusion (propaganda), or a mere excuse for economic marginalization by the megalomaniacs?


Sincerely, there is need for a critical inquiry or study of tribalism in Caprivi before it can be seen as a serious hindrance to unity, development and freedom. The million dollar question is what if tribalism in Caprivi is an illusion, a social-political propaganda to cause permanent divisions and stagnation, an excuse for economic marginalization, and most importantly, what if it is real? A good lie can cause havoc if not studied well.


It is better to believe that we are united than believing the opposite. Some of our leaders are on record denouncing tribalism in Caprivi with a theory suggesting that Caprivi is under-developed because of tribalism and disunity. This might be true, but by implication, it means that roads in Katima Mulilo remain bumpy, slippery, potholed, and flooded because of tribalism. It also implies that tribalism among Caprivians is the reason why electricity blackout remain a weekly experience followed by water shortages. I cannot soberly take this excuse. This is a mere excuse for no development or economic marginalization in general.


Besides, why are the so called tribalists not reprimanded? Does the GRN sanction discriminatory attitudes and behaviors based on tribes? Some of you will agree with me, as I continue to argue here that tribalism in Caprivi is an illusion created by political leaders who would not want to see Caprivians united and developed, these are saboteurs and their masters. They find it to be a serious threat to their power should Caprivian men and women be united, as one.


Most of us know the concept “divide and rule” and can comprehend its nature and consequences very well. Tribalism propaganda can be one of the ways to sow the seed of divide and rule. This seed is sown in our hearts and minds making it very difficult to uproot when it begins to show up in our actions and language. Hence the only way out is to liberate our hearts and minds against all odd to think differently that we do not hate each other, we love each other and that we belong together. Luyemi Hamoho (Together we stand).


I understand that some of us could have seen and touched this so-called tribalism in one way or the other. These are direct victims and victors of this so-called tribalism. However, there is a possibility that, what they experienced is real tribalism but I am certain that tribalism does not happen in streets; neither in churches nor in schools or beer-halls, not even in political opposition parties but somewhere in SWAPO party and the SWAPO led institutions such as Regional and Town Councils. Trusting my memory, there was a time when it was reported in daily newspaper that at SWAPO meeting in Caprivi, members who attended were chanting “Viva Mafwe”, “Viva Masubiya”, “Down Mafwe”, “Down Masubiya”, etc. Last year, Dr. Sazita, the former Chief Executive Officer of the Katima Mulilo Town Council was ousted allegedly because of tribalism in the said institution. Those who might have seen and touched this so-called tribalism could have been in wrong places or say wrong institutions.


SWAPO is way too small than Caprivians; therefore tribalism in SWAPO must not be extrapolated or generalized to all people of Caprivi. Tribal jurisdiction differences must not be identified as tribalism, but jurisdiction conflict and I am sure that our chiefs can solve such conflicts, as cousins and responsible leaders. The problem is this good lie which suggests that they hate each other which creates unnecessary hostilities. I have seen many violent rivals reconciling. I have a conviction that our traditional leaders can settle their differences. We as well must reject the tribalism illusion. No doubt, the SWAPO led Government have deliberately mishandled this conflict to their political convenience.


Believe with me today that we are divided by propaganda, and we must unite against this propaganda. Surely we might be victims of a psychological warfare. Instances perceived as tribalism might be here and there but such cases have no real tribal ground or basis, but personal or political. Probably we mistaken nepotism with tribalism or deliberately choose the term tribalism to get a mass in-group support since nepotism has a smaller (or no) support group compared to tribalism. We might be also choosing tribalism because this is usually viewed as identity defense while nepotism is viewed as selfishness.


We are not different in any way and there is nothing so special to fight for against each other. We are all black with the same color of blood. Let us get out of this social trap. Let us take two steps outside this hostile social box. Let us reclaim unity, the LUYEMI HAMOHO legacy. No one should undermine our culture and identity of unity. We are all Caprivians first before we are Christian, Muslim, “patriotic” Namibian or SWAPO. SWAPO will one day go, but Caprivi shall forever be here. Our obligation in life must be to preserve our Caprivian natural society than anything else. We are the stewards of our nation. Let us not believe the disunity lie. We know that some of us have been conditioned to this lie and so do they behave. We know that some do it for political expediency and selfishness. Let us deliver them through serious deliberations. Tell them we are united, we are one. Tell them to defy and erase the madness thought of hate. Let us think differently.


Are we observing what is happening to western Caprivi Strip? We are failing to stand together against border shift because of the illusion that we hate each other. Now tell me, who is the winner in this border dispute with Kavango? Of course the winner is obviously Kavango or Namibia, and our Caprivi becomes a weeping looser. Caprivi must be wondering: WHERE ARE YOU MY SON, MY DAUGHTER? Caprivi is weeping for her natural environment and society disintegrating and warring out; her men and women in exile; her loved men in prison; her people divided by an illusion called tribalism!


Unity mends all cracks but division widens and deepens such cracks. You might not have realized, we have a lot in common than slight differences. It is only that we keep our slight differences closer to our hearts and minds than our similarities. Hence according to the rule of a thumb, our differences become magnified, greater and more important than our similarities. By “rule of a thumb” I mean your thumb is bigger than Kilimanjaro Mountain if closely placed in front of your eye while the mountain is at a distance. Many times we argue because we think we have a difference which may not even exist, tribalism is an example. Many times we fight on very tiny differences perceived to be big, tribalism is still an example. But bare out with me, we have many shared values such as traditional and political history, than differences. After all, Caprivi Strip soil and space belong to each and every one of us. I do not understand why tiny differences seem to be more important than our vast similarities.


Today, we are living in the Caprivi Strip secession political ideology era. No matter how different you think, especially the youth, on this one we must unite. Not because all of us subscribe to the secession ideology, neither because we do not subscribe to this ideology, nor because we have nothing to lose or gain. But we must unite because we all need, and must contribute to finding a lasting solution once and for all. We cannot claim activism, patriotism, political and academic excellence anywhere in the world if we fail to first claim that in Caprivi. We cannot claim unity anywhere or with any other society before we claim unity among ourselves, as Caprivians. Where is your education, religious and political leadership if you fail to call for a lasting solution in Caprivi, as a Caprivian or Namibian?


Gaze into the past, and the present and you will see over a thousand Caprivians in exile, an armed uprising. You will see ten Caprivian men sentenced on treason charges and about 18 corpses from political detention, their souls still in prison. You will see more than a hundred men on treason trial and in detention for the past twelve years while their family and direct dependents suffering socially, economically and psychologically. You will see a never developed Caprivi Strip and a high percentage of orphans and vulnerable children. You will see HIV prevalence record of 43% in Caprivi. The biggest question is for how long will this status quo continue to exist? Time to change is now by first changing our negative thoughts and attitudes against each other. That is to reject disunity lies. Remember that we will not only be judged for the bad we did but also the good we failed to do.


Everyone from east to west must come on board to work out a lasting solution. We need each other. If we have slight differences let us settle them now, in a mature and constructive manner. As Caprivians we are known for eating beef, not human flesh which means we can assemble together peacefully and speak out with one voice calling for a solution, a lasting one. Warring political sides must come together to compromise and reach consensus. This can only be achieved through dialogue or referendum. We live together and die together. Let us all join hands, reason together, and speak with one voice for an amicable solution to the Caprivi Strip secession bid, win or lose.


Caprivi Strip belongs to all Caprivians no matter how different we think, no matter our socio-economic status or educational level, to a certain extent we must agree to create a peaceful, united and developed society. Ignorance is very expensive and we are too poor to afford it.


In conclusion, do not forget that we are the architects, for better or worse, of our futures. Let us win this psychological warfare by defying the disunity illusion. Remember that we were Caprivians first before we were CANU politicians? Remember the signing of CANU petition to UN? Remember that we were Caprivians first before CANU-SWAPO merger? Caprivians were one. I tell you today, we are still one, LUYEMI HAMOHO. Tell the world, we are one blood, one nation.


By Manja Manja

Caprivi Nation