Saturday, 16 December 2017

“Tribe” and “tribes” and genocidist Nigeria

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

IN STRIKING contrast to the name Biafra which rattles the sensibilities of the leadership of the Hausa-Fulani/islamist-led genocidist Nigeria so irredeemably (, 
the notorious epithet, “tribe”, is arguably this grouping’s most enduring mantra. Even though “tribe” has no meaning in any African language, it is invoked by regime spokespersons with such relish as part of its broader historical anti-African worldview, particularly its visceral hostility to African agency which includes its opposition to the restoration-of-African-independence (in this southwestcentral Africa region) from the British conquest and occupation. The Igbo led this freedom movement during 1930s-October 1960 and, pointedly, if not predictably in response, the grouping launched the Igbo genocide with full British involvement.

It should be obvious that there is, in fact, no “tribe” or its plural “tribes” in genocidist Nigeria nor indeed anywhere else in Africa; definitely, not in Biafra.

AS in the rest of the world, there are peoples or nations in Africa: Igbo people or Igbo nation, Gĩkũyũ people or Gĩkũyũ nation, Wolof people or Wolof nation, Ndebele people or Ndebele nation, Herero people or Herero nation, Tiv people or Tiv nation, Kanuri people or Kanuri nation, Bini people or Bini nation, Luo people or Luo nation, Akan people or Akan nation, etc., etc. Elsewhere in the world, for instance, there are Scottish people or Scottish nation, Catalonian people or Catalonian nation, Welsh people or Welsh nation, Kurdish people or Kurdish nation... Each and every people or nation, whatever their size, wherever found in the world, has a profoundly layered history that embodies and projects its inheritance.


This is the background or context that helps to elucidate the contemporary use of the tag, “tribe”, in genocidist Nigeria and indeed anywhere else on earth. “Tribe” is a racist Western anthropological/sociological categorisation of African peoples/nations and others elsewhere that pan-European World conquered and occupied, beginning in the 15th century CE. It is essentially a conqueror-epithet aimed chiefly to dehistoricise or deny the history of these hitherto subjugated peoples as a means of “rationalising” the conquest while simultaneously privileging the concocted state-name (“Nigeria”, “Niger”, “Gold Coast”,  “Rhodesia”, “Côte d’Ivoire”, “Upper Volta”, “Guinea-R”, “Guinea-S”,  “Guinea-T”...) it has imposed on the peoples’ states or homelands in the wake of the conquest (at times the occupation mischievously but incorrectly interchanges its designation of its concocted, imposed name on the peoples with the term “the nation”!).

CONSEQUENTLY, “tribe” is often employed in uncritical academia and media as a weapon to demonise these peoples. This is why, in its rampant usage, no one in their right mind would dare refer to 5 million Scots as “tribe” or 7.5 million Catalans as “tribe”, whilst, for example, cavalierly categorising the 25 million Oromo or 20 million Amhara as “tribe”. Nothing but geographical emplacements (namely, Scots and Catalans are peoples in Europe; Oromo and Amhara are peoples in Africa) dictate the choice made in these last four classifications, underlying its sheer racist tract.
(John Coltrane & Don Cherry, “Focus on sanity” [personnel: Coltrane, tenor saxophone; Cherry, pocket trumpet; Percy Heath, bass; Ed Blackwell, drums; recorded: Atlantic Studios, New York, US, 28 June/8 July 1960])

No comments:

Post a Comment