July 7, 2016

IN EAST AFRICA, INDEPENDENCE DAYS ARE NO BIG DEAL:

One could be forgiven for thinking that another reason they’re canceling the celebrations is because so few in South Sudan identify themselves as South Sudanese first (rather than Dinka, Nuer, or Fartit). Even then, what few die-hard nationalists there may be would find little to celebrate in their country’s bloody five-year history.

The fact that so many East Africans struggle to celebrate their countries’ Independence Days ought to clue us in that, in this region, non-national identities—ethnicity, clan, tribe, religion—matter much, much more.

Contrary to the globalist conventional wisdom that nationalism is the root of all evil, stronger nationalist sentiments could actually improve the security situation in East Africa. When it comes to engineering harmony between and among groups, talking up a common identity (that is, a national one) is a lot more effective than forcing respect for difference. Until East African countries are able to provide internal security, secure borders, and deliver competent government (as Rwanda has more or less been able to do), it’s likely that future Independence Days will be just as quietly celebrated as the ones being marked by the Burundians, Somalis, and South Sudanese this July.

Wait, I thought diversity was strength.

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