THE SPIT OF THE TOAD
Zaire, Kenya, and
the Abuse of Tradition
This mosaic of tribes and cultures, linked by a general wish
to live together, to form a nation united by the cement of the
republic, holds close to its heart the aim of national cohesion
and an advanced notion of citizenship. 1
MARRYING THE IDEAL OF STATEHOOD with the reality of an often fractured mosaic of tribes and cultures is a challenge few of Africa's leaders have met. The historical truth is hopelessly enmeshed in genuinely old traditions shaped by the vicissitudes of oral transmission, invented traditions, and mythico-history. 2 "This tribalism that was a genuine product of African diversity but also an invented weapon of self-defense, became a potent factor in opening the route to nationalism," writes Basil Davidson of the tribal unions and associations that evolved in the early years of the twentieth century. 3 "Their nature, of course, meant that they were destined to become divisive of national unities. They would then play the role, after independence, of opposing 'tribe' to 'nation'. But that was still to the future." The nationalist political creed that ultimately succeeded in ridding Africa of European domination clearly revealed the imperative of achieving freedom. But it did not
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Publication information: Book title: The Skull beneath the Skin:Africa after the Cold War. Contributors: Mark Huband - Author. Publisher: Westview Press. Place of publication: Boulder, CO. Publication year: 2001. Page number: 217.
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