IUIU Guild Presidential Election: On racism, tribalism, and other forms of segregation

IUIU Guild Presidential Election: On racism, tribalism, and other forms of segregation
Matanda Abubaker, former Guild President IUIU.
Matanda Abubaker, former Guild President IUIU.

I have been following the Guild presidenatil campaigns at Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU), and like any other stiff political race, because they take our adrenaline levels, and many a time threaten our identities, the contest brought out what we really are as humans.

I affirmed a quote I like using from a person I do not remember, “Most of us do things for two reasons; the one that sounds good, and the real one.”

Many people say this, and do that. This is very true, especially in the game of politics, yes it is a game.

The fact is we are majorly selfish as humans, as much as we try to run away from it. We pull things towards our side, we care about ourselves first, then the other’s are secondary.

I will cater for myself first, then extend to others, even in cases where we pretend as if we are selfless, many times they are calculated moves to pull things to ourselves in the long run. We have mastered the art of selfishness that much.

Now since #ME as a form of identity is extended to my family, my clan, my tribe, my nation, and my race, my selfishness is extended to those in increasing order of importance as you enter these circles meaning, if it is my race against another, I stand with my race but within the race, if it is my nation agaist another, then the encounter changes and I forget about the common race belonging.

Now for many of us what we say is not at all idiosyncratic with what we profess, and resultantly what we practice. Our tongues are very sharp in criticism against racism, and all forms of segregation but our manifestations depict a different reality altogether.

A contest between, a Ugandan national, and a Kenyan national of Somali decent; the race for Guildship at #IUIU which ended yesterday with the Ugandan taking the day revealed these insights more vividly to me.

I witnessed Somali or rather international students asking Ugandans not to be Segregative, and support a candidate simply because they are nationals, but to look at who is more fit for the job, and the Ugandans also returning the same argument in the same currency. I listened to each one of them saying they had made their decision based on competence, and I also accessed some private meetings with statements like;

“This is our chance to rule the nationals, it has been long.”

“A Somali cannot rule us in our home, this is the time for us to show our patriotism.”

This reminded me of the election of the US President, Barack Obama, and how his color was an issue for choice in the supposedly civilised #Nation.

…And also of an article I wrote about why many times, when one is meant to make any appointments, you will often see their tribe, their religion, their profession seem like the basis of their choices as much as they claim to have considered competence. (Which many times is true.)
My argument in that piece was, much as one considers competence, it is competence among those they know, and chances are high the people they know are their friends who are likely to be their religion, tribe, and profession mates. So however competent you maybe, but if I do not know you, and you have not been recommended to me by another person (Likely still to be in my circle) how will I appoint you?

So in a nutshell, I have concluded that we need to accept that these social groupings are part of our identity, and can bring out either the best or the worst in us, and therefore use them to the exhaustion of the former.

However to my brothers and sisters of the international community in IUIU, it may have not been by your making but the contest became one of US against THEM and of which by numbers, it would be hard for you to win such a contest, so lets accept what Allah decreed on us but despair not, we have had guild presidents from the internationals before and it is possible, let not this make you think it is impossible, it is possible if better strategies are adopted. So kindly keep away the hate speech, and work together with the victor, we benefit nothing from the hostility, we actually lose more.

To the nationals, you felt threatened, and debunked all the internal differences working together for a common cause. So now that you got the victory, kindly do not extend hostility, the victory is enough, however much you are provoked, hold your cool, we say we are hospitable, a people, lets uphold that, it is one of the things we are proud of and famed for, lets extend an olive leaf to the international students.

This was a contest in which one person had to win, as we ask them not to be bad losers, lets not be bad victors.
The truth is we all need each other, we are all humans, and red blood has had no choice but to flow in us for ages. You do not know whom you will need, when combined with future circumstances.

This piece was just to expose some of our dark sides as human beings so that you are not shocked by some of the things, they, we, you do. The more we accept our nature, and seek to better ourselves having accepted, the easier it will be to avert such..

Share your thoughts in the comments section.

The writer is Matanda Abubaker, former Guild President, Islamic University in Uganda.

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