Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Andrew Banda: like father like son
By Editor
Tue 23 July 2013, 14:00 CAT

ANDREW Banda says Easterners should hold on to MMD the way Tongas have done with UPND.

"Our colleagues the Tongas have held on to UPND, our colleagues from this place, our traditional cousins have held on to PF and here in Eastern Province they killed UNIP but MMD this time we are going to hold on to it," Andrew told an MMD parliamentary by-election campaign rally in Chipata.

What is wrong with Andrew? Why is Andrew canvassing so strongly and indeed, viciously, along tribal and provincial lines?

We wonder whether Andrew's party, the MMD, really has a national or tribal and provincial leadership. Anyway, Andrew is not different from his father, Rupiah Banda. His father in 2008 launched his presidential campaign on similar lines, urging the people of Eastern Province not to welcome anyone from other regions of our country and tell them to go and campaign where they come from. That was Rupiah in 2008. And this is Andrew, Rupiah's son, in 2013. This is a negation of all that the MMD was founded for and stood for.

But those who plant seeds of mistrust, discrimination, fear and selfishness will reap exactly that. The people they are teaching to discriminate against others purely on tribal or provincial lines, may successfully be taught to hate them next time. So that even from a personal and rather selfish angle, this way of electioneering must be condemned as completely unZambian unless, of course, we do not mean it when we speak of "One Zambia, One Nation".

It is good to remember that whatever we are in terms of tribes or regions, we have one common denominator and that is we are all Zambians. And as such, we have no reason whatsoever to look at other people in terms of tribe or region.

Every human person has a variety of identities that can be cultural, social, economic, religious or political. Such diversity should be a source of richness rather than exclusion and discrimination. Hence, people are often manipulated to believe in their ethnic identities as superior to others, and that leadership of a country, region or an organisation has to be dictated by one's ethnic group. Our cultural identity should be an unlimited source of life, rather than one of disunity.

Ethnic identities should form a positive diversity that can lead to unity of intentions and purposes of life.

In the Gospels we learn about the tensions between the Jews and the Samaritans (the conversation between the Samaritan woman and Jesus, John 4). At one point, when Jesus had been rejected by the Samaritans the disciples, James and John, proposed to Jesus to bring down fire (Luke 9:51-56) that would consume the whole Samaritan village, but Jesus rebuked them. In fact, Jesus later on showed that the Kingdom of God ought to include all the children of God without discrimination. To illustrate this, in answer to the question, "Who is my neighbour?" (Luke 10:25-37) Jesus deliberately chooses a Samaritan as the one who saved the man who had been injured.

The unity in diversity of the children of God is emphasised by Paul in Galatians 3:26-28: "You are all sons and daughters of God through faith in Jesus Christ, for all of you who are baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Jesus Christ." Paul was dealing with divisions among different factions within Galatians community, whether Jews, Gentiles, the circumcised or the uncircumcised. What matters is that we are all children of God and, therefore, there should be no reason for discrimination.

Tribalism deforms nationalism. It is the competitive and excessive exaltation of one's own tribe. It seeks to assert its superiority over the others. But the Christian vision is universal, with all human beings seen as brothers and sisters within one family. It is not necessary that one's tribe should be superior to the other tribes in anything. It is enough that it be faithful to its own identity and purpose, that it contributes what it can to the common cause and receive the contribution of others in a mutual collaboration and exchange.

The practice of discrimination on ethnic or regional grounds is contrary to both justice and charity. We wish to emphasise that it is definitely against natural justice and Christian brotherly love to discriminate against members of a different tribe. Such tribal discrimination is particularly harmful in this country, where members of different tribes live side-by-side. Nothing but evil can be the fruit of tribal discrimination, a practice contrary to both justice and brotherly love.

We detest politics based on tribe or region, because we regard it as a barbaric thing. Tribalism or regionalism pollutes the atmosphere of citizen relations and poisons the minds of the backward, the bigoted and the prejudiced.

As we approach 50 years of independence and nationhood, it is intolerable and unacceptable that politicians like Andrew can have the audacity to publicly advocate tribal or regional politics, a cancer that is eating away at the fabric of societies in different parts of our planet.

We must instead ensure that tribe becomes only a God-given gift to each one of us and not an indelible mark or attribute that accords a special status to any. Tribalism is a blight on the human conscience.

And this is why Dr Kenneth Kaunda and his comrades fought very hard against tribalism. And we should never again allow our country to play host to it. Tribalism must be consciously combated and not discreetly tolerated. Tribalism and regionalism have been weighed and found wanting.

We must always be mindful of this one thing, whatever the trials and tests ahead, the ultimate strength of our country will always lie in the unity of our people. We should put the unity of the people first and put it ahead of any divisive partisanship, regionalism. And in these times, as in times before, it is true that a house divided against itself by the spirit of tribe, region is a house that cannot stand.

So, we ask all our politicians and their supporters to guard against tribal or regional divisiveness and all its ugly consequences.

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