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Cavorting with Tribalism


A rising tide of rabid tribalism has surfaced in Liberia over the past fifteen years, which needs to be checkmated before it leads us down that ugly rabbit hole of chaos. But unfortunately, it is widespread even amongst Congoes (descendants of Americo-Liberians).

Politicians toy with this deadly kryptonite to gin up support from their base and win over other elements within the society who are inclined to support such divisive rhetoric. As a result, tribalism is on the upswing in our national politics, stoked by political actors of all persuasions who promote ethnic division.

The practice has become so deeply entrenched that during the 2017 Presidential election, several candidates were candidly tribalistic in their utterances. 

Even coded language is rife in the discourse nowadays, which usually is used by others who are not bold enough to speak such undiluted tribal diatribe in public. We must all reject these practices and don’t accept them as the “new normal” in our discourse, actions, and lifestyle. To do anything less would be surrendering our destiny to the purveyors of hate, discord, and divisiveness. These destructive acts of an anomaly are unacceptable, intolerable, and must be rejected—forthwith.

The complexities and the myriad of issues we currently face as a people cannot countenance the growth of yet another toxic element. A country fresh from a devastating 14-year civil war must be mindful of carcinogenic discourse and the utterances of politicians and others intended to curry favor with their constituencies to attract votes. Architects of this debilitating culture have continued to prey on the brazen credulity of the Liberian people as they spew sectarian messages.

Liberia lacks homogeneity in our communal setting, largely due to the impartation of toxic and divisive rhetoric. Policymakers who should be at the forefront of ensuring that these harmful vices are discouraged and purged often find themselves caught between the scissors because they are the principal fomenters of such toxicity. In most instances, it is not the unenlightened and unexposed that peddle this menu of separation and hate; rather, it’s the so-called educated amongst us, particularly those who pride themselves of the moniker, “intellectual.”

Having failed miserably to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), it is high time we set up a Blue Ribbon Commission with a momentous charge: To assess where the country is in terms of its sense of unity, the negative effects of tribalism on association, assimilation, national development, peace, stability, and the overall National Security architecture. 

The Bible says, in the Book of Amos 3:3: “HOW CAN TWO WALK TOGETHER EXCEPT THEY AGREE?” This is a very powerful message, even for those who don’t subscribe to any book. Moreover, it has a unifying theme that is relevant to today’s Liberia. 

In conclusion, policymakers and those in positions of authority must take the issue of tribalism in Liberia seriously and zero in on finding viable solutions before it’s too late.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mr. Mathu H. Gibson is a National Security Consultant and Intelligence Professional who lives in Washington, DC. He is a former Chairman of the Board of Directors—ULAA; Past President of the Liberian Community Association of the Piedmont, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In 1997, He served as National Chairman of the TQ Harris Presidential Campaign. Mr. Gibson is the Dux and Honor Graduate Military Police School, J.H. Tubman Military Academy, Todee, Liberia. He can be reached at: mathugibson777

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