By Boaz Byayesu
When leadership lacks, agents of the devil revive and chant
When purpose dwindles, hope blinks
When negativity grows, divisionism germinates
Racism and tribalism are precisely one devil using different agents. Here at Charlottesville in Virginia, my state of residence, ugly and criminal acts of terrible extremism associated with toxic rhetoric and hate propaganda occurred again as these evil acts had found settlement here in the 60s.
These crazy acts are fueled by the propagandists and agents of racism that are on the rise in this hope and dream-built nation.
The Banyankole have an old adage that, Nyineka kwaba atarimu ebikyere bitembenju.
It means that when the head of the household is unavailable, all sorts of lizards get all over the house. In this scenario, the saying represents not the physical absence but the absence of leadership.
What the nation has witnessed this week and this entire six months period resonates the above mentioned consequences in the event that there is failure or vacuum of leadership.
This week, the agents of evil carrying the drums of acrimony and anarchy, the bully band singing slogans of blood, white Supremacist hate parade matched in negative unity to the direction of destruction.
With repeated acts of this nature reminiscent of the much resented acts of the 60s that caused the Civil rights movement in America, a sense of hope is dwindling as the feeling of uncertainty and despair looms large in this great nation where hope is its spirit and dreams are its foundation.
Yes, there is some connection of today’s acts by white nationalists to the old ugly history of America, but there is also a great detachment in today’s actions especially with the leadership response from the founding ideals of the great union and the great generational leadership of this great nation.
The resilience of a great cause that marked the prevalence of a durable purpose created the courageous and moral leadership of the United States of America. Now, this this resilience and this moral courage is at a tough test today in a country that has been the eyes and the ears of the rest of the world.
Why Racism at the Rise Now
It is not that the famous American democracy erased the weak thoughts and evil acts of racial injustice, it is rather the great generational leadership of this leading democracy on the globe that united the nation, minimized the divisions, and controlled these negative forces.
Precisely, when leadership lacks, agents of the devil revive, mobilize and chant.
Racism, the Equivalence of Tribalism
As an African living in the Western world, every time a racist-like act occurs, I tend to internalize and validate it because I logically view it as the equivalence of tribalism hence natural and normal yet abnormal since we, human beings are conditioned that way since birth.
While we witness or hear of acts of racism, we tend to view it with rather more resentful eyes and/or perceive it with more bitter minds than we do with tribalism or ethnic prejudice yet it is the same thing, the same devil with different agents separated by only color.
In fact, tribalism is deadlier than racism, and people who harbor such deadly thoughts are more dangerous in their blindness because their hate is either directly or indirectly detrimental to self-progress hence an act of self-destruction.
In Africa, we have experienced even worse tragic dilemmas of various kinds of extremism that are tribalism-based or based on ethnic differences.
Therefore, racism and tribalism are twin devils using different agents.
The Contrast of Racism and Tribalism
With racism, the people of one color hate, segregate or resent other people who are not of their color whereas with tribalism, people of the same color but different myopic beliefs and trivial tradition differences tear each other’s skin.
Now, who is smarter among these two cases with similar evil beliefs? To me, the racist is smarter than the tribalism.
Secondly, in most racist countries there is always an accountable leadership, democratic institutional framework, and thus the rule of law that can check this kind of criminal acts.
The acts of tribalism are mostly if not totally unchecked since most if not all countries that are affected by tribalism are non-democratic with questionable leadership that either encourages tribalism or is silent about it. Thus, the consequences of this vice are more dire in this kind of environment.
While the executive leadership of the United States of America is said to be silent or non-committal on denouncing these ugly criminal acts of racism and bigotry, the American civil society is very bold and engaged, the US media is confronting it heads-on, and some influential politicians and notable public opinion leaders have firmly and loudly voiced their strong opinions on this issue regardless of their political parties or other issues of political divide.
In this particular case, below are very notable and influential Republican leaders that have stood up to president Trump and dared to distance themselves from him or called him to account for his leadership errors.
These are Senators: John McCain, Lindsay Graham, Jeff Flake, Bob Coker and others. Former presidential candidates who did the same are: Mitt Romney, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush.
There are also many famous commentators who advised former presidents who weighed in like: David Gergen who advised four presidents, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton.
Scott Jennings is also a popular Republican who was the communications director for George Bush.
Many times, when it comes to matters of patriotism like unity in diversity, America fundamentally comes together.
It helps a lot, it relieves people’s hearts, it reinstates hope, and it adds value to the standing of a country regarding leadership and democracy.
Therefore, with either racism or tribalism and all their destructive effects on society, when there is lack or vacuum of leadership, and the absence of such hope-reinstating voices, the candlelight of hope blinks, purpose dwindles, negativity grows feeding divisionism that germinates into a forest of social catastrophe.
Boaz Byayesu lives in Virginia