Tribalism in student political spaces

By Tsepiso Theko

Previously ‘white only’ institutions like the University of Cape Town, Rhodes University and Wits have had numerous reports of racism within their institutions. From students to staff members bemoaning ill treatment and exclusions, this exists even to date.

On the other hand, Black Universities such as TUT, University of Venda and others are packed mostly with people from the townships and rural areas. Because majority of students are black people from the poor and middle class, racism is unlikely to exist, so the hierarchal measure becomes class and tribe.

This is evident mostly in political spaces, where one tribe may feel superiority over the rest. Some student political organizations even insist that they are exclusively for a certain tribe, therefore ordering the other/s.  In most cases it is usually two giant tribes fighting for power, overlooking and undermining the rest.

Although this may not be systematic, it is problematic and absurd, because it insists that students should follow or support an organisation based on tribe. Many students have left students politics because of this, lot of students have had mental breakdowns regarding such treatments. Great leaders have been robbed the opportunity to lead because their tribe was not the majority. This has also caused splitting of organizations. All because of fear to embrace diversity within organizations. Dividing students further instead of bringing them together.

Tribalism has led to civil strife in many parts of the world. And now it has made its way into universities and spaces where students are supposed to come with solutions that will empower them.

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