Can You Let Go Of Your Clan?


By Abdisalam Osman

A couple of days ago, I had an exchange of words with an anonymous friend of mine on Facebook, on a status he posted, He mentioned a politician, stating,’ the work done by the so called politician was good,’ but he didn’t stop at that, what caught my attention was the conclusion, ‘I’m not praising him because of tribe, we are not related’, so my question was, do you have to be related to someone for you to like the good they do? Or just praise him for the bad because of blood relation?

Seriously, tribalism is one big deep scar, and if I were to rank people according to tribal loyalty, Somalis will top the rankings, some would literally kick you in the face if you dare mention anything about his/her people.

Some would even threaten or blackmail you with just a mention, like, “how dare you, do you even know the clan I hail from?

It’s a norm, some cultural totalitarianism, where every time, ‘Don’t forget your roots’ is a catch phrase, a reminder that wherever you go, besides the color of your skin or the texture of your hair, you belong to a certain tribe and clan.

Besides religion and secular education, Somali parents will make sure, you can mention up to the last of ancestor in your clan.

Some will argue, it’s good for the upbringing, good for the kids to identify, know where they belong. Yes, I agree with that, but our parents should have clarified a few things, the fact that ‘tribe’ is just for identification, you should help and relate with others not just because they are from your tribe, a bunch of people is what tribe is after all.

Tribalism is like cancer, hanging around our necks, from generation to generation, like an albatross, it encumbers national cohesion or worse yet; cause fighting and we all know how that ends.

One Christopher Hitchens said, “There is almost no country in Africa where it is not essential to know to which tribe, or which subgroup of which tribe, the president belongs. From this single piece of information you can trace the lines of patronage and allegiance that define the State.”

While I believe it’s good for one to trace and know his/her roots, sometimes, or most of the time, the civilized world collides with the beliefs of a certain tribal bloodline, talk of social injustices.

We all, at one time or another, witnessed a case ragged under the bloodline carpet, even as huge as rape or murder, but since the accused is from a certain tribe, they’ll settle, simply because they do don’t want one of their own to face the rule of law.

Parents will give out their little girls to older men, ‘sorry, but we don’t want our girl to go to another tribe’ they’ll say. Can your tribe produce all the men your girls’ desire? Absolute No! The ratio doesn’t agree, seven/eight to one, but since the love for tribal lines is deeply embedded. Parents will never allow their kids to marry from another tribe, thus the many rebels.

That’s just a slice from one big pie, communication and better planning is the key to a better future, but when job interviews start with questions like, ‘Which tribe/clan are you from?’ We will languish, yet the clan name is still just a name.

You will all agree with me on this, how many times have you been asked, who your father is and which clan you are from by a total stranger? I don’t know about you but personally, uncountable.

You know, sometimes I’m just glad; people greet each other before they say anything else, although many don’t bother. Truth is, the tribal hole is a free fall, nobody knows the troubles along the way, and a clan won’t guarantee a fortune or a better life. Sometimes a friend or a family, blood doesn’t count.


Abdisalam is a Freelance journalist and regular contributor of Nepjournal





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NepJournal is Northern Kenya's online newspaper. It is also a space where the leading thinkers and writers from the region bring you unsolicited and uncensored views, analysis and opinion from the region and beyond.

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