WE hail the National Guidance and Religious Affairs Minister Reverend Godfridah Sumaili for refusing to allow South Africa’s controversial artiste Zodwa Wabantu from peddling her nudity in Zambia all in the name of art.
Zodwa, who is infamous for her no-panty policy, sultry dance moves and occasional nude pictures is the highest priestess of immorality who should not be tolerated in any civilised society especially Zambia, a country that prides itself as a Christian nation.
Even before Zodwa made her bold announcement that she was coming to Zambia without wearing her knickers, indecent dressing in Zambia should have compelled the ministry of national guidance and religious affairs to issue a bold statement against this affront on the declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation.
We say this knowing that the authorities have responsibilities to police indecency in whatever form it appears.
The hullabaloo over Zodwa’s indecency is a reminder of an earlier situation in the 70s concerning mini-skirts which took the country by storm shortly after we gained independence at about the same indecent dressing was catching on in the West.
The patterns, mini-skirts and trousers for women, tight pants and long hair for men, arrived on the continent to find a cultural void.
Since dress is the most visible cultural statement, colonial governments banned nudity and encouraged the adoption of fashion that instilled Western cultural concepts of decency.
Zambia’s first Vice President Simon Kapwepwe was a strong advocate of cultural nationalism since in 1971, Zambia’s House of Chiefs passed a motion that stated that “Women’s dress above the knee should be condemned.”
UNIP’s Women’s League, through its leader Chibesa Kankasa encouraged women to wear the chitenge suit instead though the miniskirt was never officially banned in Zambia.
In neighbouring Malawi, President Hastings Kamuzu Banda passed a draconian public decency law in 1973 banning the wearing of pants, mini-skirts, and see-through clothing for women and long hair for men.
The law, which remained in place until a new constitution was passed in 1995, was oddly precise in its definitions. There were government standards for the appropriate length of a skirt and the right length of hair.
In fact, one of the requirements for obtaining a visa to visit Malawi in the 1970s was “Skirts and dresses must cover the knees to conform with Government regulations. The entry of ‘hippies’ and men with long hair and flared trousers is forbidden.”
If you landed in Lilongwe with long hair or an unkempt beard, the custom officials would subject you to an involuntary haircut.
The miniskirt made a comeback back in the early 1990s and inspired a new wave of controversy. This time, however, there were fewer mentions of African cultural erosion.
Already the dressing of some female musicians in Zambia leaves much to be nauseated about.
Recently the Gauteng Member of the Executive Council Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane became the most recent person to share her disdain for Zodwa when she described the dancer as a “disgrace to future generations and misleading the young women in our society.’’
One practical implication of public nudity today is not a return to innocence but rebellion against moral reality since God ordains clothes to witness to the glory we have lost, and it is added rebellion to throw them off.
The first consequence of Adam’s and Eve’s sin mentioned in Genesis 3:7 is that “the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.”
Suddenly, they are self-conscious about their bodies. Before their rebellion against God, there was no shame. “The man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25). Now there is shame. Why?