Tobin Jones

World News

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Somalia’s Tribalism spells Trouble for the Future

Somalis do not need to focus on topics that are fundamentally weakening their society. Somalis are at a crossroads of putting together a society that has been in disarray for more than two decades; mired by a long civil war and social fragmentation prompted by tribalism. Tribalism is ugly and was rejected by the ancient Greeks and developed societies. The failure to recognize the adverse consequences of tribalism in Somalia especially in the areas of social and economic development was hindered by political opportunists who pushed for political and economic spoils by appealing to false nationalism.

According to a study by William R. Bascon at the American Academy of Political and Social Science, “Tribalism, no longer an obstacle to self-government in Africa, is still an obstacle to national unity…Balkanized by rival European powers in the past, African boundary lines impose artificial divisions on already complex patterns of tribal and sub-tribal groupings…”

It is not hard to understand that after 20 years of endless chaos and civil strife, Somalis are beginning to understand the need for and benefits of a functional central government. In the past, Somalis concepts of government was short-sighted and delusional; the belief of government for the majority of Somali people was that it is a total stronghold of power for one tribe or groups of tribes who become the only sovereigns and keep the rest of the country mired in misery.

Nevertheless, so many men and women in Somalia still support tribalism. Somalis now have a new government led by an educated and young political coalition free of what plagued Somalia in the past: tribalism. The new national leaders are focused on nation-building, democracy and peace, and security. Somalis should disconnect from obsessing about tribalism and stop blind obedience to tribalist leaders. Somalis should rethink and build a nation-state based on ethics, good governance, and democracy.