The Human Dimension To The TIV/Jukun Crisis - Engr Mathias Luka Agbu


Written by
Engr. Mathias Luka Agbu

"CONFLICT IS INEVITABLE, BUT COMBAT IS OPTIONAL”- MAX LUCADO"

 Upon reflection, I conceded like most people on the existence of at least some differences between human cultures —in this case the Jukun and Tiv ethnic nationalities.  How then should we treat the differences that are to some extent fuelling the crisis? Do the differences imply superiority or preference of one culture over another?
The Jukun-Tiv conflict has worsen because of the feelings that individual tribes are superior to each other — and the fact that our interests should come before anyone else’s, even that of humankind.
Ideally our loyalty first is to our family, our neighbourhood and our tribes/ethnic groups — but it is important we add humankind to this loyalty list. But here is the problem: when loyalty multiplies, conflict of prioritisation becomes inevitable. A case in point is between the ethnic loyalty and that of humankind; which should be place above the other? This seemingly simple question has received strong perspective on both sides.
But my simple thesis on whether loyalty should lay with tribe (Jukun/Tiv) or humankind can be linked to the human suffering that have resulted from the conflict. Between the tribe — Jukun or Tiv — and humankind which really suffers in the wake of a communal clash? Does the tribe possess human senses such that it could bleed when Injured? Does it own emotions to cry and become sadden when defeated or lost a loved one in a war. In truth, the tribe idea is a metaphor, living only in the imaginations and endures because we humans have lent it our bodies.
But what is unquestionable is that the sustained Jukun-Tiv crisis has caused untold human suffering. We should not forget the gruesome killing of Father David Tanko, the rural farmers in Tsokundi, Jootar and many other settlements. Currently we live daily in fear of violent attacks, and the route between Wukari to Makurdi which people ply with caution or take alternative longer and costlier routes because of their links to the Jukun-Tiv ethnic groups is a sign that is the people that suffer and not the tribes. These are real human suffering. In my opinion, all efforts toward resolving the crisis has met a brick wall because of our obsession to tribe over humankind.
Interesting, finding lasting peace to the crisis through the lens of human suffering does not require a specialized toolkit or it is not restricted to peace building and conflict resolution experts. All that is required is a deep appreciation of human suffering. Simply, understanding how our actions causes unnecessary pain to others will naturally drive us away from violence, even when we are grossly absorbed in advancing our individual interests and those of our tribal affiliations.
A final thought: our affiliations and identities pull us in different directions, and some of our obligations often come into conflict with one another. Sometimes to the point where we are caught in the web of tribal sentiments and tempted to prioritise tribal interest over humanity.
In such circumstance one thought should prevail —human suffering. At the heart of the Jukun-Tiv crisis is one crucial question: who bears the brunt of a violent attack? Individuals and families or the abstractive hero: Tiv and Jukun. The answer is obvious, tribal clashes remain a primary cause of humans suffering in the Jukun/Tiv communities. As we deepen the search for a lasting peace, let this be our guiding light: we could be loyal and hold special obligations to our tribes; we could esteem and take pride in our ethnic backgrounds, but we should always remember that a human being need not be affiliated to a certain culture in order to be treated with decency and respect. And it is humans —not our abstractive tribes —who endure the hardship after every communal conflict .

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