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How does a country terminate ethnic attachments and achieve national identification?

Ethnic attachments is when each ethnic group in a country feels alienated from the other groups culminating in ethnic separatism and isolationism in the nation. National attachment, on the other hand, is a condition where the people in a country identify themselves with the nation rather than their small ethnic units. when people attach themselves to the nation it speeds up national development. As many developing nations are struggling with ethnic divisions, how do we solve this situation?

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    Jun 3 2012: A human is created to belong to a family, a community, and a larger society of other humans. A family unit is guided by the philosophy and traditions of a community.

    I think most Africans are still stuck in the thinkings of pre-colonial Africa.
    KwaZulu Natal of this day, can not be anything like Zululand in the 19th century; because there is now a nation called South Africa. Akure in the 1800s is not the same as the capital of Ondo state of today; because there is now a nation called Nigeria.
    We must accept without regrets the changes in our political landscape.
    I see myself first as a human being, then an African, a Nigerian, a Yoruba man, an Akure man of the Anjorins.
    The important thing is that one is always part of a community. The bigger the sphere of community becomes, the more the diversity. Diversity reminds one that the world is a big human community; and every culture is a legitimate human expression. Each should be paid its due respect. There should be no room for selfishness.
    The idea that there is an unchanging way of doing things because it is 'our culture' should be reconsidered. Cultures interact and influences one another.
    We must embrace change; we must embrace dialogue. Terms for tolerance should be carefully worked out; forgiveness is important.
    An African proverb says 'A child that vows to keep his mother awake through the night, would also need to be awake to make it happen'. A society that sows bitterness, disrespect, intolerance and selfishness; will reap bounties of hardship.
    The dreams of individual nationals are connected to a country's dream. There is no use pulling one's country down with inter-tribal wars and tribalism.
    The culture of each tribe may not be sacrificed for a vague idea of 'national culture'. But one has to be aware of the implications of the new political order.
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      Jun 3 2012: Well said! :D "We must embrace change; we must embrace dialogue. Terms for tolerance should be carefully worked out; forgiveness is important." This is awesome. Your whole comment maintains a balance between two sides of the argument.

      Understanding and flexibility are necessary. If we really want, we can actually try to do things much harmoniously. It is a matter of how much we are willing to contribute to the happiness of not only us but also of others, although "us" and "others" are just conventional. Different people would call this contribution as charity, sacrifice, sharing and caring, letting go, and so on. Our world views, cultures, and our conceptions and perceptions might impact the decisions we make but what we call "ours" or "theirs" cannot always define reality. we need to see the overlaps and crisscrosses also.
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    Josh S

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    Jun 3 2012: Why don't ethnic groups form their own countries? This was how countries were created originally, by individual ethnic groups. When foreign officials decide country borders, as seen in WWI, WWII, and in other situations, ethnic groups were often combined. This does not naturally happen, with the exception of the US.
    I think we are looking at this backwards. Ethnic attachments create a sense of pride, no matter what culture, and usually this pride is the same as national identification. Of course there will always be various ethnic groups in countries, but i think the sense of national pride is derived from the ethnic attachments.
    Because the majority of countries are based on ethnic attachments, i dont think it is possible to terminate ethnic attacments in countries.
    • Jun 7 2012: J.S, ethnic groups have tried to form there own countries what do you think the neverending war b/tw Israel and Palestine is all about, chechnya and Russia, Kuwaits and Iraq, Tibets from China, Taiwan from China, Tamils from Sri Lanka. Countries after war are decided by whom conquers whom, not ethnic groups, conquering countries couldn't give a flying.... about that.
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        Josh S

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        Jun 8 2012: That's very true and you make a great point. I assumed that the topic had been referring to countries that were relatively at peace but had social tension. in the examples you gave, i would not be able to answer how to end that type of ethnic warfare. Maybe allow the ethnic groups to form their own countries. That was what i meant in my comment.

        That to end it we must allow ethnic groups to form and maintain their own countries. The examples you gave are examples of how this idea may fail, but are important to understand.
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    Jun 3 2012: (To add to Thomas Ojanga's nicely said words): It is not so much the attachment to ethnicity that might produce alienation and separatism but the very idea of "national attachment" might do so, although i feel uneasy with the term "attachment."

    I recently had to read for a course work Arjun Appadurai's "Fear of Small Numbers" where he talks of issues related to nationalism, ethnicity and fear of small numbers in a rapidly globalizing world. As i understand his arguments, he is saying that the root of conflicts in modern societies lies in the very heart of liberal democracy in that it tends to distinguish between minorities and majorities. The majorities want to create a national whole and thereby see that the minorities are the actual obstruction. There are, however, discourses of multiculturalism, cultural heterogeneity and human rights Also, increasing is the economic inter-dependency between nation-states so that no nation-state can easily ignore the pressure.

    These facts seem to suggest the hindrance to national development does not come solely from ethnicity but also from discourses on ethnicity. It is very significant to observe how ethnicity is seen at a national level. Misperceptions and misconceptions, ideologies, public life and gossips can also be valuable source of conflicts. After all, all are human beings and understanding that all human beings want happiness would not disturb us as to which ethnic group we belong. We have a common goal of happiness and if we are aiming for that there is no reason why ethnicity can become a hindrance. The questions are whether national development is an end in itself or a means to an end? If it is an end in itself than we face the challenge of human life. If it is a means, say of facilitating human life, than national development depends not only on the works of citizens but also of the citizens of other countries. We are in an inter-dependent world and we exist interdependently.
  • Jun 3 2012: You can have an ethnic attachment without necessarily feeling alienated from other nationalities. Also, national attachment does not necessarily exclude ethnic attachment. For example, many Swiss groups are very attached to their ethnicities but are equally very nationalistic. In developing nations, negative ethnicity has however impacted negatively on national development. Negative ethnicity is when one ethnic group (most cases the one that provide the political leadership) excludes others in matters of state and sharing of the national cake and also victimizes others on the basis of their ethnic belonging.
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      Jun 3 2012: I would say also from a practical standpoint that disrupting communities and their positive traditions in the name of crafting a broader "melting pot" has a sad history in many countries, with great, sustained loss not only to those whose communities were distrupted but to the whole. It can be construed as a sign of distrust of and distrespect for differences.
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      Jun 3 2012: Nicely said Thomas.
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    Jun 7 2012: Most national borders in Africa were drawn during colonial times and were designed to create ethnic tension that kept the people busy fighting each other. Africa needs to redraw political maps to fall more naturally among ethnic groups. If that it isn't possible, the next best solution is to dissolve tribal identify through inter-marriage. It is human nature to feel that one's group is "normal" while everyone else is alien, abnormal, or sub-human. It is hard to overcome that inate prejudice all humans have. The only way to overcome it in the case of Africa is by expanding the definition of what is the "in-group".
  • Jun 7 2012: does one realize that national borders persay and passports didn't actually come into affect until after ww2, basically to catch the bad guys, which wasn't very successful in the end, considering how many German officials fled at the end of the war and our still being sought. However that is beside the point, people of nations were able at anytime, and from anywhere move from country to country, we were basically a free world without borders. A fantastic concept that the war buggered up basically, whcih is the free movement of people. With that freedom came knowledge, with that knowledge came understanding, with that understanding came acceptance, not much of that happening at the moment within and without cultures. pity
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    Jun 7 2012: People of a country identify with their experience. My answer (and I am certainly NO expert) is to search the world for the best constituion, be your best selves, implement laws that promote well being, justice and opportunities to excell along with all the human rights legislation you can pass!
    • Jun 7 2012: Alot of the oldest democratic countries have the oldest constitutions, do you think they are still relevent today? need updating I would love to know what you consider the worlds best constituion is, the mind boggles in all that reading and I love reading, but not that much
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        Jun 7 2012: Hi Bec!
        As you read through your prodigious pile -your reading and comprehension will increase. Hang in.

        South Africa modelled its new constitution after Canada:s I believe. We are a young country actually formed in 1867 and we had the British flag in my lifetime. The real strength of our contitution is that it enshrines human rights.
  • Jun 6 2012: Feyisayo Anjorin said "I see myself first as a human being, then an African, a Nigerian, a Yoruba man, an Akure man of the Anjorins."

    I think this is the most central statement in this discussion, because most (many?) people would reverse the list.

    Whether you like it or not, whether you understand it or not, the world is becoming a global village. Within this century it will become necessary for everyone to accept this fact, and start seeing themselves first as a human being and a member of the global village.

    So how does this apply now? Unfortunately, I think that most adults will continue doing what they have been taught. The hope is to educate the children that we are all interdependent.
    • Jun 7 2012: I would love to have that lineage, as a white woman in the world I am a bit of a mongrel when it comes to my heritage, comes from all over. I understand the point of being a human being first as I agree but there must be something comfitying in the knowledge of heritage such as Feyisayo's
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        Jun 7 2012: Three cheers for the mongrel girls! I once had an interview where the guy asked 3 illegal questions. In the thired he asked what my heritage is (I am sure he was perplexed by the name Smith) -assuming that I could not possibly have won the job- I told this blue eyes white guy that i was a MUTT!
        In the end the president of the division actually hired me!
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    Jun 6 2012: The Question seems to suggest a negative connotation to one's attachment to his/her ethnic group. It is worth noting that the these smaller ethnic groups are the microcosm of what we know as a 'nation'. In other words,the solution to nationalism does not lie in our attempts to sever the two-nationalism and ethnicity-but rather ensuring a harmonious integration and amalgamation of the two.
    It is also noteworthy to highlight the fact that ethnicity is not necessarily antithetical to nationalism. As pointed out by some of the contributors to this discussion,Education is key in fostering a sense of nationalism in society, and I mean early education!
    • Jun 7 2012: Begs the question why does one have to have nationlism, nationalism is ok I suppose, so is patriosim, but we have all witnessed in past years were these ism have left countries, and unfortunaltly we are still seeing it on display today. goes back to what Feyisayo says really.
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    Jun 4 2012: Terminate. Such a strong word. I notice you hail from Ghana, I believe this may be the source of your question? I think that assimilation of the greater aspects of an ethnic group by a nation would be excellent. All nations/civilizations which accepted assimilation or adopted the best traits from neighbors has been extremely successful throughout history.

    Accept the good, reject the bad. Some will complain but not enough to dampen progress.
    • Jun 7 2012: yep, Australia where I have been born and breed has a fantastic multicultural existence, but after 200 odd years ( I mean we take awhile us white fellas) we are only know grasping the mult-faceated nature of our indigenous people. Shame it has taken so long
  • Jun 3 2012: J S, we feel pride of being a member of any group especially when we are not being coercised into it. The UN Charter of Human Rights confirms the natural right of individual right to FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION. This means that being a member of an ethnic group is not a natural tragedy. But my experience tells me that STABILITY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN FREEDOM. I take this to mean that in a condition where there are several ethnic units in a state, the interest of the nation should triumph that of all the sub-national units. I am against ethnocentrism of all forms. Amen.
    • Jun 7 2012: Depends on what the interest of the nation is
  • Jun 3 2012: Nationalism or feelings of national identity must flow from governmental will and be viewed as an educational priority. In countries with limited resources for public education or where factional politics or religious belief systems supercede any such identity, national identity will remain illusive. Where even modest resources are available, national identity can become contrived, i.e., dictated by external threats, regional and socio-political factionalism, or the efforts of a dilligent yet effective press which does not serve the broad range of political viewpoints. Countries having neither effective education systems nor a free press as politicizing agents must first seek to establish governing institutions which foreswear ethnic and personal allegiances. .
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    Jun 3 2012: Having voters participate as Tribunes and publicly conducted Tribunal Convention will be a big step in the right direction. This is because shallow exposure to the facts and issues is a large part of why people required to make a decision without adequate information fall back on ethnic or group generalizations. More information and exposure to the bigger issues will reduce this. See:
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    Jun 3 2012: The UK is currently being blighted by separatism. Some Scots want to leave the Union and become a separate nation within the EU. The Scottish separatists are very aggrieved and angry about the political Union with England which occurred in 1707 - despite the fact that the Scots had freely entered into the political Union via the joint Acts of Union.

    So, it's not just a problem for new nations. Some people will always accentuate the differences between people rather then the shared hopes for the future. But, remember…

    “Faith can recreate a nation” (HRH The Queen, Elizabeth II - on the occasion of her visit to South Africa after the end of apartide).
    • Jun 7 2012: Bugger that I am glad that Australia is relatively young concerning this subject
  • Jun 3 2012: Fritzie, I understand you. People should not reject their identification (with the smaller group) in other to achieve national development. But it's very disturbing when people are blinded by ethnocentric outlook. People should think about the nation than "my tribe, my tribe." We continue to witness in many countries where almost every voter wants to select a political leader who hails from her or his tribe. I expect leadership capabilities should be the prime factor in choosing a leader. Why must one tribe discourages its members from contracting marriage with a different tribe? It's sad to learn that many adults are seriously training teenagers to select only individuals who come from their tribe to serve as national leaders. And not the other person from the other side. So let's value our nuclear family, support the extended family, cherish our clan, as well as our ethnic orientation, my recommendation is the nation must come first. OR? This is why I am saying that the stability of the nation is positively related to the harmonious co-existence of the several smaller groups within the nation.
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    Jun 3 2012: Where are you placing in your division a condition in which people feel a strong sense of pride and belonging in an ethnic community but ALSO in a larger, diverse community or nation? The way I understand your question, this condition does not fit in either of your categories. Are you assuming that national development depends on people's rejecting the fact and value of their smaller cultural communities?