'A Kiss is but a Kiss' so the song says ... well outside of the heart of darkness, where its apparently a sackable offence.
We have recently posted about cultural imperialism on this blog, where different examples, from the holiday Brits in the Mediterranean to the sexual holidays of some groups of western men, and this prompted comment that we should be promoting western values.
Now I don't know about you but I hadn't really thought about Tanzania much ... well not at all actually ... certainly I didn't think of it as one of the heart of darkness states, and certainly not in the same category as some north western black African states, or the central states such as the 'Democratic Republic of Congo' ...
But in fact they have recently had a spate of 'witch killing' with 23 people charged with murder after seven villagers were burned alive on suspicion of witchcraft. This kinda propels them into the same league as the other backward socially and educationally backward states of the region - and into a special group, including Brazil and Saudi Arabia, where people still believe that witches are more than just old con-women, or senile, or both.
So the idea that they had a police code of conduct (apart from making bribe taking compulsory it seems), seemed incongruous - certainly that social media would cause 3 dismissals was a novel thought.
But recently three officers (two men and a woman), lost their jobs because a couple in uniform kissed in public (whether off duty it seems was irrelevant), and another officer secretly photographed them, and then posted it on line. Apparently both the kissing in uniform, and the posting it on-line, both broke the Tanzanian police code of conduct.
|A Kiss Is But A Kiss ..... Normally|
So what are we to make of this .... most Tanzanians apparently would agree that on the one hand, rules are rules, while saying on the other, that it seems draconian punishment, especially in view of the fact that the police in Tanzania have a massive public creditability problem, as they are notorious for taking bribes and not catching criminals. So although technically its a series of sackable offences, if there had been warnings issued, most people would have thought that was enough punishment.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Zimbabweans have joined in the fun and games, as the University of Zimbabwe has also imposed a student kissing ban .... to a predictable storm of condemnation.
However the interesting thing for me from this story, was that like most of southern Africa, the population has simply bypassed the old telephone land line system (which had never been rolled out in Africa), and skipped straight to mobile phones. This is possibly unique in our history, because in one bound, the Africans, whose communication infrastructure was still in the colonial era, jumped into the 21st century.
They already have 80% market penetration of mobile phones and this is expected to grow again ..... They are even driving the very low costs down further. So the fact that in the middle of nowhere, two police officers kissing could end up on the internet and become a story in the news, is solely down to the fact that African mobile phone usage has become a modern technology phenomena ....
... One which might finally drive the superstition that supports 'witch killing', into the dimness of history where it belongs.