'A Kiss is but a Kiss' so the song says ... well outside of the heart of darkness, where its apparently a sackable offense.
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 when discussing these issues in a comparative manner, we should be promoting promoting human values, and condemning those laws which discriminates against people for the way that they were born.e.g. anti-homosexuality laws.
Now I don't know about you, but I hadn't really thought about the African country of Tanzania much ... well not at all actually ... but certainly if I had thought of it, I wouldn't have thought of it as one of the heart of darkness states, and certainly not in the same category as some states such as the 'Democratic Republic of Congo' ...
But in fact they exhibit many of the problems that plague the rest of the continent, and recently they even had a spate of 'witch killings', with 23 people arrested and charged with murder, after seven villagers were burned alive on the suspicion of practicing witchcraft. This kinda propels them into the same league as the other 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 women with no family protection.
So the idea that they actually had a police code of conduct (apart from making bribe taking compulsory), seemed incongruous - certainly one that would cause the dismissals of three police officers for a harmless act, 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 or not, 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, broken 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 a draconian punishment, especially in view of the fact that the police in Tanzania have a massive public creditability problem, as they are notorious both for taking bribes and not catching criminals. So although technically its a series of sackable offenses, if there had been conduct warnings issued, most people would have thought that was enough punishment.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Zimbabweans have also joined in the fun and games, as the University of Zimbabwe has also imposed a student kissing ban .... to a predictable storm of condemnation on social media.
However the interesting thing for me from this story, was that like most of 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 world 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 darkness of history where it belongs.