Political -> Ethnocentrism

The political pillar concerns challenging socio-political policies and practices that put the interests of a particular ethnic group before that of others. In so doing, this pillar concerns nurturing common humanity and promoting ethno-cosmopolitan patriotism towards the common good.

Ethnicity is a reality Africans cannot go beyond. Ethnicity is to do with the socio-cultural norms, customs and traditions that connect people within a particular group to each other. But a strong appeal to common identity based on a shared past or culture leads to strong ethnic groupings that are characterised by strong boundary markers and operate within a culture of exclusion or ‘us’ versus ‘them’. We call this ethnocentrism or the politics of identity.

When politics is fused with ethnicity and political arrangements are based on ethnic groupings, the situation is further complicated. The main reason being that ethnic based political powers seek to sustain themselves through creating and maintaining an unhealthy form of patronage, brokerage and networks of relationships, which depend largely on corruption, competition and dispossession. All this leads to a brutally antagonistic and adversarial situation, which is characterised by disregard for human dignity, conflicts and deaths.

SOPHOS AFRICA seeks to help devise mechanisms to prevent or counter such a situation through producing a critical mass of 'ethno-cosmopolitan patriots'. These people display the following characteristics. First, they combine ethnic and patriotic commitments within a global perspective. In other words, they emphasise cosmopolitanism while still celebrating ethnic identity and maintaining national patriotic fervour. Second, they combine respect for their ethnic identity, culture and language with a respect for others’ identity, culture and language. Third, they are comfortable with a sense of shared commitment and identity as well as shared land and resources. Fourth, they embrace others with different ancestry or history or language as their sisters and brothers. Fifth, they see national sovereignty as more important than self-determination driven by radical ethno-nationalist and ethno-religious agendas.