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Is it wrong to be dressed in trousers?

You would think every public sector employee is now busy working to avoid the wrath of 2012. That they are now busy covering their tracks and therefore, should be too busy to pay attention to irrelevant things.

A friend of mine recently took to Twitter venting on how she was humiliated and thrown out of government office because of how she was dressed. She took a picture of her outfit and shared it with us, displaying a pair of jeans and a Mickey Mouse printed top. A million miles from obscene or seductive.

This is the same lady who has successfully represented Tanzania in various high level international arenas, this as well as being the only Tanzanian face on an esteemed worldwide music and entertainment channel.  She is one of the very few unofficial Tanzanian ambassadors we have, positively representing the country.

You would think she would get recognized for her effort for this. You would think she would be afforded the courtesy of being told how to dress the next time she paid a visit. Or be shown a sign that indicated, in specific measurements, how the offices liked their visitors to be dressed. You would think.  Instead, she got thrown out and publicly humiliated.

Another friend of mine was refused access to the Parliament because of how she was dressed as well. Being rather slim, she was dress in pants and a loose shirt but was asked to either tie something around her waist or leave the Parliament grounds.

Mind you, tying something around her waist would draw attention to the area of which they claimed was exposed and that they were trying to cover. While this was going on, a more voluptuous woman dressed in a tight khanga outfit, wrapped from head to toe, showing every curve on body was allowed to pass, leaving my friend wondering what was going on.

She had to un-tuck her shirt to enter leaving her feeling rather scruffy and uncomfortable. All this fracas despite her visit being part of a high level partnership visit working on a development programme in rural Tanzania.

Are government officials allergic to women in pants? I asked myself. Is there a serious (potentially life threatening) reaction that occurs when a woman in a pair of pants, irrespective of how tight they are, enters public offices that canÕt be cured in this 2012?

I've also had my own experiences of this kind and I know I am not the only one. I remember of my first such encounter; I went home practically in tears telling my mother how I had been embarrassed.

After listening to me go on and on, dramatically drawing pictures for her, explaining every last detail of what had happened, she said a few things that made sense. She said she has seen Tanzania change from an era where very few people could travel, see the world and attain exposure, to this era where more and more people are travelling and getting exposed to the world at large.


She explained to me that the whole how to dress in public institutions are remnants of British rule and there is nothing African or authentic about it. Granted we must dress appropriately but the definition of appropriate is yet to be established by both men and women, young and old.

Civilization as we know it has hit many Tanzanians and while some have embraced it and accepted change, some have not. Some have accepted various things that have come with civilization like for instance, women's rights.

A girl child's rights to education, to choose her own life path as well as to determine her future have slowly been accepted by some in society. That women could and should contribute to development in various fields has also been welcomed by many. And along with this contribution, be afforded basic liberties to women as they have been to men since time immemorial.

And just as some have welcomed civilization, some haven't. Other Tanzanians have refused to ride with the wave of civilization, instead using all their energy to swim against the tide. These are the same folks who think that the Beijing Declaration was a myth.

Unfortunately, these are the same folks who get jobs in key government positions. They are the ones who are related to ministers and deputy ministers and get awarded a job on grounds of being cousins with the right person.

These folks don't win a lot of battles refusing civilization, but on rare occasions as those that have happened to my friends and I and many more Tanzanians, they display a triumphant move by belittling people. They belittle people when in all essence, they are the little ones.  Twitter: @AmbyLusek Email: ms.lusekelo@gmail.com

...A manifestation of limited understanding ...

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Author: Amby Lusekelo

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