The Horn Of Africa States: Where The Elites Are Divided (Part III) – OpEd


In a modern society, individualism remains the core and dominant factor of life. In the past there were, of course, communities and tribes and tribes were either of kin and blood or disparate groups who believe in the same thing together.

In the Horn of Africa States, the tribal kin is more important than the ideological tribesman, which by itself is based on the individual acting freely. Nation-states superseded the tribesman based on kin in the seventeenth century when tribal allegiance was subsumed to the nation state. This blood tribe or for that matter the ideological tribe is a means of survival, no doubt about it, however, when it is abused and employed to destroy others or an imperfect system, in the hope to create a perfect system, then the tribe becomes a burden and destructive and the African region and more particularly the Horn of Africa States has become a region, mostly dominated by the tribesman, even if they could be the best, in whatever field of learning, they are in.

The Horn of Africa States is not alone for the East Africa Community, in this respect for in countries like Kenya or Uganda or Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan, the blood tribesmen machete each other, some of them, even presently. Much of Asia or Latin America is not different when it comes to the problems of the tribesman. It is when the individual and the tribesman forget that they need each other, for at the end of the day, an individual would come from a community, anyway.

An individual should see oneself as an independent decision maker and capable of forging one’s life forward, without undue reliance on the blood tribesman, which is often driven by tribal pride and tribal collective psyche. It is where the tribesman fails to build up a society and a nation-state let alone a regional block.

When would the Horn African realize that he/she can build a stable, thriving, diverse, yet belonging all to one region consisting of their also diverse communities? Nothing justifies the killing of fellow brothers and sisters in the name of a tribe. They could be killing the best engineers of a nation or doctors or teachers and educators or nurses, administrators, and other skilled persons, who would have contributed to the building of the region’s nation-states and hence the region – all in the name of a tribe. What a shame for the Horn African?

And all this just for one tribe wants to retain power and another tribe wants to wrest power from it, and since they are incapable of giving space to each other, they resort to the killing of each other in the most brutal of ways. What the African elite has not yet learned and is not yet ready to accept is that there is beauty in diversity. Once one accepts diversity, one matures and becomes self-confident, growing beyond the tribal shelter and security, adopting national security as his/her way to survival, and eventually the regional security of the Horn of Africa States.

What is unexplainable and difficult to justify is why the Horn African elite or for that matter the African elite are not prepared to live together and work together, when their fellow rural Horn Africans and Africans in general, are prepared to work together, live together, and stay together. It is always the urban educated elite that for short term political or personal gains, throw whole countries off cliffs.

It is often said that usually people are happier when they are among happy people and those surrounded by insanity appear to be insane, and those in tense situations are often more violent than others. In the Horn of Africa States and Africa in general, societies have been segregated into tribes and its geography into tribal holds, which have no love lost among them. It is perhaps time that the elite of the region came off this high tribal pedestals and worked normally together as their counterparts in the rest of the world handle their nation-states and regional blocs in this globally connected world of today. The nation states and the region would be much happier!

We conclude this series on the divided elite by saying that it is time for the elites to heal themselves, first as individuals rather than as tribes/clans. When they start thinking along those terms, it would go a long way in retrieving the region and its member countries from the deep abyss the region and its countries have dug for themselves. This would not certainly please the enemies both from within and from without. But the elites of the region and its nation states have no other choice!

Dr. Suleiman Walhad

Dr. Suleiman Walhad writes on the Horn of Africa economies and politics. He can be reached at [email protected].

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