By Akin Ojumu

Hate is a virulent pathogen to which all humans are susceptible to varying degrees. The virus is thought to spread from person to person through droplets of indoctrination and inculcation of propaganda released when an infected person talks, writes, or acts.

The hate virus is known to infect individuals raised in the same household and have been under the influence of a chronically infected person. When parents are infected, they are most likely to pass it on to their children. As a familial infection, it is hereditary and passed on from one generation to the next.

Several psychological and behavioral conditions are known to be caused by the virus of hate. These include the following debilitating diseases:

1. Bigotry, defined as extreme prejudice of any kind towards other people.

2. Xenophobia which is the fear and loathing of strangers.

3. Racism is prejudice or discrimination based on race and it’s informed by the erroneous belief that one’s race is inherently superior to others.

There’s yet another psychopathological disease caused by the hate virus that’s particularly rampant in the African setting. And it is called tribalism.

Tribalism is a strong feeling of loyalty or bond to one’s own tribe, party, or group that excludes and/or demonizes those “others” who belong to other tribes, parties, or groups. Nigerians are known to suffer from a severe form of tribalism known as toxic tribalism.

Toxic tribalism is common and widespread cutting across age, religious, educational, socio-economic groups. The stark illiterate villager who has never ventured out of his village in the backwaters of Africa has it. The well-travelled fellow with educational qualifications and academic degrees as long as the arm suffers from it too.

Just as idol worshipers and avowed atheists experience toxic tribalism, so does this deadly disease find home in the houses of worship among the pious and religious. The self-proclaimed apostle, who is a constant heavenly tourist, has it. 

The bible-thumping preacher who can, on top of his head, recite the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, suffers from it. The prayer warrior, who fasts forty days and forty nights every forty days, is not spared, he manifests toxic tribalism as well.

Characteristically, the virus of hate that causes toxic tribalism is particularly difficult to eliminate once an individual is infected. The elusive virus hides deep within the sanctuary of the soul of the infected individual where it remains in a dormant state of prolonged hibernation. In this dormant state, the virus of hate can go undetected for years and the infected person, in all appearance looks normal and sane.

The infected person remains in this state until the dormant virus of hate is activated by an extremely emotionally traumatic event such as the paralyzing fear that their preferred candidate is on the verge of losing in a presidential or governorship election.

As soon as the dormant virus is activated, all hell breaks loose. It reproduces very rapidly and the level of the virus in the soul of the infected builds up to such a degree that an overwhelming fulminant viremia occurs.

When this happens, the infected person begins to manifest signs and symptoms of the full-blown disease of tribalism. Suddenly, the otherwise normal person starts acting weird. The person that everybody thought was sane, cultured and civilized begins to exhibit an unexplained bizarre behavior.

Tragically, treating toxic tribalism caused by fulminant hate viremia poses a challenging psychological ordeal. At this late stage of the infection, the virus and the disease it causes become extremely difficult to treat. 

The virus being highly mutant is resistant to sound reasoning, impervious to objective facts, and unswayable by common sense. There are no known effective therapies for toxic tribalism.

No matter how potent the remedy you apply, the sickness of tribalism simply refuses to go away. At the end of the day, we are left with no choice other than to let toxic tribalism run its course and hope it won’t fatally consume the infected person.


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