Fighting tribalism in Zimbabwe is everyone’s responsibility not an opportunity for tribal grandstanding. Any attempt at dealing with tribalism that romanticises the behaviour through selective highlights of acts of tribalism and the suppression of anti-tribalism activities just to prove a point, to wrongly reflect certain tribes as inherently lacking in moral intelligence and suggesting some communities were somehow exclusively entangled in discriminatory norms is barbarism not anti-tribalism.
It is our moral duty that we challenge tribally-aggravated behaviour in all its forms; that poster at Barbourfields stadium is an example of insidious tribalism that for long has been embedded in Zimbabwean society. The question now is who is prepared to make the necessary sacrifice that will place tribalism to the garbage receptacle where it belongs.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion but none of us is entitled to their facts; facts are stubborn, we cannot pick and choose which facts to accept and which ones to reject. It is difficult to charge the media outlets, politicians and individuals who have over the years blindly embraced ethnic loyalties over principle with the legitimacy of addressing the problem of tribalism.
I argue here that we cannot objectively discuss the bigoted poster at the Highlanders/ Dynamos football match without interpreting the context from which it is drawn, that would be short-sighted and opportunistic; bigotry of that sort is a manifestation of specific socio-political circumstances, the context of the poster is thus as important as the poster itself and must not be ignored if we are to hold communities to account.
Tribalism in football matches in Zimbabwe has long become unbearable, it now needs to be intolerable however, let us not fall into the trap of taking football hooligans as a reflection of norms and values of any society. Instead, let us ask questions of culture and security in our football stadia; it would be fair to ask why Zimbabwean football authorities, Highlanders and Dynamos football clubs included, have been unable to address the often shambolic safety measures in matches involving the two football clubs?
The current leadership lost its legitimacy in Matabeleland the very second it sanctioned Gukurahundi atrocities; since then, this leadership has proven woefully inadequate to tackle tribalism. Governance is not about the unfair exploitation of inherent societal weaknesses for the benefit of the elite but service to the community, the whole community not sections of it! The ZANU PF government has been nothing of a democracy but everything of a majoritarian tyranny. For years it has literary acquired its legitimacy from the majority ethnic Shona people and Mashonaland through flagrant tribalism.
Tribalism is not an instinctive but learned behaviour; it is taught, it can be unlearned; for that decontamination process to happen, we need a commitment from all communities across Zimbabwe. As modern-day Zimbabwean society, let us put ourselves to account; stop holding other sectors of the population to hostage, stop stripping them of their human dignity so as to condone their derogation.
To try to define a community’s values and norms on the basis of behaviour exhibited in a football match is questionable at best; at worst, it smacks of sinister opportunism. The deeply ingrained problem of tribalism in Zimbabwean society is multi-layered, it cannot be rectified through selective media publication of incidents of tribalism but by objectively unpicking and loosening those layers till they are too weak to stand.
Tribalism has torn the moral fabric of our society; while ordinary men and women squabble among themselves, the wealthy and elite appropriate power and resources. Let us work at creating new values that will genuinely pronounce the idea that human beings are created equal, promote the spirit of peaceful living within communities of diverse cultures. Security in public events has to be reviewed.