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Monday, 12 November, 2001, 18:43 GMT
The tribe: Good or bad?
A new power-sharing government was inaugurated last week in Burundi, representing a vital step in the country's peace process.
Although the two main Hutu rebel groups have vowed to continue fighting, the new administration incorporates both the majority Hutu and the minority Tutsi ethnic groups.
Will the two tribes be able to work together, considering their bitter and bloody past? Will the plan to create a multi-ethnic army succeed, given that the Tutsis have traditionally controlled the military?
Does the existence of tribes inevitably divide African countries? Tell us what you think.
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Yoanns Mojwok, Melbourne, Australia
If the tribes of Europe can live together why not the tribes of Africa? Europeans have killed more fellow-Europeans in tribal conflict than Africans have killed other Africans. Oh of course you call it the civilised wars.
With the poverty, plunder and abuse of resources that Africa is experiencing, the tribes cannot work in harmony. Any peace deal is temporary. People have to be assured of the basics for their daily living before they can put tribalism behind them. European tribes only saw the harmony after the economic boom which followed the imperial period and global exploitation of wealth to Europe.
Moses Fakeh, Hong Kong
Africa is a continent not a country. What you call tribes were nations before European adventurers Balkanised the continent. I live for the day BBC will routinely talk about English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish tribes when they describe the UK, or German, Basque, Flemish, Dutch and French tribes when they talk about Europe. If not why not? This is the 21st century and Euro-centric prejudices based the amount of melanin in your skin doesn't wash.
I believe that the Europeans must stop calling the different nations "tribes'. Most of the so-called "tribes" qualify for being nations. The major problem of Africa is not "tribalism" rather it is the existing colonization of some nations in Africa. Unless the de-colonization of some of the African nations is complete there will not be a real peace in Africa.
If European tribes can come together and form the European Union why should the same be considered impossible for Africa - apart from the usual reasons of percieved racial superiority of course?
The existence of tribes is largely becoming irrelevant in the modern world. I see absolutely no reason why it should be considered relevant for Africa only.
A tribe is a nation. There is no such thing as rival tribes, only different nations. Before the arrival of the colonisers, there were different nations, there was no such thing as Nigeria two hundred years ago, neither was there the Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe, Zambia. The only solution is to break up these countries into their respective nations, then there would be no tribalism.
First of all, what is a tribe? I do not like this word. It's never used when dealing with Albanians or people from Kosovo, for example.
Anyway, there are many African countries with lots of ethnic groups that live peacefully with each other. Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Gabon, to name just a few, are good example of them. There is trouble in many other countries that do not have any ethnic background. This is the case for DRC, Angola. It is greedy people (both Africans and Westerners) who take advantage of the ignorance of uneducated Africans to perpetuate wars in some African regions in order to freely exploit the resources they want.
George, South Africa
How long will we blame our problems on our colonial predecessors? Every condition today is a culmination of what's happened in the past; continuing to point this out will not change that, only help explain it. Modern day tribalism is the result of two things: manipulative leadership and lack of communication infrastructure, both of which are equally important. We need more leaders like the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere who sought first to build an integrated nation and a Tanzanian national identity instead of playing the ethnic identity card to preserve power. Secondly, when that message can be channelled through a well-developed national mass media that penetrates every corner of every bush or jungle, tribalism will be in its final days.
At the different schools I attended, I mixed well and had even friends from other ethnic groups. All my life so far, my neighbours have always been people from other ethnic groups. As during my school years, they are friends who are so close, we help each other in times of need and look after each other's family when I am away on business.
What creates ethnic chinks that have divided and continue
to divide people in African countries is mostly the people at
the top - politicians, very often whose
calibre is questionable. Until that changes, it will continue.
02 Nov 01 | Africa
Calm in Bujumbura greets new era
28 Oct 01 | Africa
Peacekeepers arrive in Burundi
01 Nov 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Burundi
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