The Crisis of National Integration and Tribes in Africa

Before the decolonization, the societies were wanderers in Africa. No one handled to brought these societies in one order. But the colonists achieved to combined them in one state and formed their identities. But the colonists didn’t manage to create a cohesive society in all Africa countries. This paper will examine the crisis of national integration in Africa and tribes.

What is the national integration means?

Briefly, the national integration is a political idea and an ideal, it implies a national state where citizens have the full right without any form of segregation. In another word, it is the bringing of people of different racial or ethnic groups into an unrestricted and equal association, as in society or an organization.[1]

After the French Revolution, the modern state was born on the basis of nationalism in Europe, then nationalism movements spread all over the world promptly, and it ended the era of the multi-ethnic Empire. However, the idea of a nation-state is associated with the rise of the modern system of states, usually dated to the Treaty of Westphalia (1648).[2] The balance of power, which characterizes that system, depends for its effectiveness on clearly defined, centrally controlled, independent powers, irrespective of being empires or nation-states.”[3] In Africa the nation state was born in conjunction with the emancipation movements in the mid-20th century.

In concise, we can define the nation as a group of people living in a particular territory develop a political form with a sense of unity and determine their political future’’.

When we consider the African countries, it should be noted that a nation in Africa is equal to the tribe of the African people. There are no upper identities such as Sudanism or Somalism which can consolidate the nations.

We can easily confirm that the tribe rule over the certain territory in African communities, and the chieftain is the leader of this territory. The tribe’s members have absolute loyalty to the chieftains. As we mentioned before, the tribe is a main political unit, and in some countries, it is pressure groups and they played significant roles in the election period and the political process. Besides that, man or woman gains the citizenship by the membership of one tribe in most African countries. Ultimately we can say that there is no concept of state citizenship in most of the African countries in the western understanding. Therefore, these countries are suffering from the problems in national identity and it became the main reason of continuity of internal wars in African countries such as South Sudan. There is no nation state, there is a tribal state we can talk about in Africa.

The political role of the tribes in Africa

By Westphalia peace treaty the modern state was founded in Europe with clearly demarked borders. In the period of the colonization of Africa, the modern state was imposed on the continent. In our opinion, the modern state didn’t suit to African Societies because the extended family or the tribe is the smallest and the most basic group of men. For instance, South Sudan nation is an aggregation of several ethnic groups. Therefore, from time immemorial, even before it gained its independence, ethnic identity has defined the scope of political intercourse in heterogeneous and pluralistic societies like South Sudan prior to the amalgamation of the tribes such as Dinka, Nuer, Shuluk. This problem identified by Jhon Garang, who is the founder of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, at a conference he shared that, ‘Islam can’t unite us, Christianity can’t unite us, Arabism can’t unite us, Africanism can’t unite us, just Sudanism can unite us’. Because he knew that, South Sudanese trust to leaders of the tribe more than the authority of states. Consequently, the politicians in South Sudan used their tribes as grassroots of their political party and pressure group on the central government, besides that, they are protecting their interests rather than protecting the national interests, as former deputy Riek Machar did. Unfortunately, this is the case in the most African leaders. Finally, we can say that the tribe is greatly threatened the national integration in Africa.

All in all

The Southern Sudan communities are tribal communities such as the other African communities. The politicians rely on their tribes in the political process and if happened any conflict among the leaders, directly it turns into a tribal conflict as seen in South of Sudan. Unfortunately, according to 2016 human rights report thousands of people killed, and 2.4 million people were forced to flee their homes since 2013.[4]


[1]https://www.academia.edu/5321747/Ethnicity_and_Identity_Crisis_Challenge_to_National_Integration_in_Nigerian

[2] http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Nation-state

[3] http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Nation-state

[4] https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/south-sudan

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İbrahim NASSIR
1988 yılında Sudan’ın Kassala şehrinde doğmuştur. İlkokulu ve liseyi Kassala’da okuduktan sonra Sudan – Türkiye arasındaki anlaşma kapsamında lisans eğitimini almak için 2008 yılında Türkiye’ye gelmiştir. 2013 yılında Türkiye Polis Akademisi Güvenlik Bilimleri Fakültesi’nden lisans derecesini almıştır. Türkiye–Afrika ilişkileri konusunda bir çok panel ve konferensa konuşmacı olarak katılmıştır. Uluslararası alanda bir çok akademik çalışmada bulundu. Ulusal düzeyde çeşitli radyo ve televizyon programlarına katılmıştır. Yüksek Lisansını Yıldırım Beyazıt Üniversitesi’nde Siyaset Bilimi ve Uluslararası İlişkileri Bölümü’nde yapmaktadır. Afrika, Ortadoğu ve İran Çalışmaları başlıca ilgi alanlarını oluşturmaktadır. İyi derecede İngilizce ve Türkçe bilmektedir.