Law and Traditions in Africa

Topics: Human rights, Rwandan Genocide, Rwanda Pages: 12 (4501 words) Published: February 15, 2014
DISCRIMINATION ON ETHNIC GROUNDS: A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS
Introduction
Many societies all over the world have had to grapple with the problem of inter-group relations. Such concepts as apartheid, discrimination, prejudice, pogrom, ethnicity, hatred, fanaticism, intolerance, war and even terrorism are terms in common use all over the world. It is manifest that many societies tend to stratify themselves based on the strength of race or tribe. Ethnic discrimination represents one of the problems of inter-group relations in any society. As mentioned in the preceding chapters, this is a situation which people of the minority ethnic groups are given unfair or unequal treatment simply because they are from a different ethnic group. It could be referred to as tribalism, which emanates from the ethnocentric feeling of the dominant group. When there is feeling of superiority by one ethnic group, the tendency is to look at the other ethnic groups with contempt. Ethnicity, thus, is a polythetic concept that referrers to several attributes which include inter-alia the name of a group, a distinctive language, religion, geographical territory, values and norms and history. This has however not always been the case. Even in the developed worlds, while the categorization based on race seems more pronounced, thereunder lays the ghost of ethnicity, which for most of the time rears its ugly head in the most unfortunate of circumstances. The United States, even with its self-claimed impeccable record on human rights has had very many cases of ethnic profiling, most of the time hidden under the ever controversial shield of national security. Even Biblically, the Jews, ‘the chosen people of God’ divided themselves into Jews and Gentiles, thus labeling the former an inferior party. This chapter will dwell on having an analysis of different legal and territorial jurisdictions by critically reviewing the laws governing ethnic relations and also making an attempt to assess their compliance with the international conventions and treaties that work to safeguard against negative ethnicity that breeds hostility. Compliance in this regard will be had to the extent to which a mentioned state enforces the non-discrimination clause in the various sectors that are publicly or even privately controlled. This maybe in employment, where securing employment opportunities or even promotions is heavily dependent on ones tribal muscle, in the health sector and all service industries or even the civil service. African countries today face greater challenges to peace and stability than ever before. The countries of Sub- Saharan Africa including Sierra-Leone, Ivory Coast, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo are a volatile mix of insecurity, instability, corrupt political institutions and poverty. Alarmingly, most of these countries lack the political will to maintain previous peace agreements and thus have fallen prey to continuous armed ethnic conflict. The conflicts in these countries are mostly between ethnic groups, not between states. Ethnic conflicts have been at the heart of these countries development problems. Politicized ethnicity has been detrimental to national unity and socio-economic wellbeing.

Discrimination on ethnic grounds: the case of Nigeria
Nigeria is one of Africa’s largest states, both in terms of size and population. It is therefore understandable to have some extent of dissatisfaction with the sharing of national resources and also expect some level of disharmony especially with regard to the more ‘dominant’ tribes as placed along with the less dominant ones. Nigeria is composed of peoples with different religious, ethnic and cultural diverse backgrounds. Home to some 250 distinct linguistic groups, it has been prone to the intense politicization of ethnic and religious differences. However of all these distinct entities, like Kenya, Nigeria has three distinct entities that are dominant. These are the Yoruba, Igbo and...
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