Who says that Naija is not a freedom of expression paradise? Such people should be expelled; but that would make Nnamdi Kanu feel better than the pighead that he is for calling my fatherland a zoo. Naija people fought hard for their democracy, and the freedom it gives them to express themselves. But very often, other issues bog us down so much that we take our liberty for granted.
For the second time in our journey with democracy, Naija people are asking for their president. Even when Sai Baba’s damagers forced him to give a Ramadan sound bite Naija people were unsatisfied. Digbolugi Fayose said it confirms his talk that the president is a quarter to go. Some people have asked the president to resign.
Criticize some African ruiners and you would never live to regret it. Last week, Tanzania’s sovereign president, John Magufuli was in the news after Halima Mdee, a member of the opposition Chadema party, accused him of being pig-headed and self conceited to think that his word is law in Tanzania. She posited that one day, Magufuli might ask Tanzanians to go topless and expect people to obey without complaining.
Apparently, Ms Mdee has never heard of Fayose and a sad Commissioner Ally Happi ordered her arrest and detention for 48 hours before charging her to court for “using abusive language towards the president.” Article 15 of the Tanzanian constitution backs him and from feelers over the past seven months, an amendment may be in the offing to order stiffer penalties. In March, Tanzanian rapper Nay wa Mitego was detained for accusing Magufuli of insensitivity to criticism.
Magufuli believes that he is not just a president, but also the leader of the nation’s ethical revolution. Last month, he reconfirmed a law banning pregnant pupils from returning to continue their education even after giving birth. He also warned their randy boyfriends of the 30-year jail term awaiting them even when human rights activists say it is imperative to let the children have their father’s involved in raising them. But Magufuli reminded them that Nyerere’s land is not Europe or America and that the law stands. Magufuli has only one wife and it may be improbable for him to find a mistress even if he desires one simply because he is said to be a natural miser. Some ladies love men with open hands, not ones with araldite fingers.
If you are the type who sits on your social media page, insulting Sai Baba, count yourself lucky to be a Naija. Stella Nyanzi, a controversial Ugandan professor at Makerere University may soon need to rent a permanent home in detention. Early this year, she was detained after describing President Yoweri Museveni as ‘a pair of buttocks’ and his wife as ‘empty brained’ on her social media page. She was criticizing them for failing to fulfill their promise to provide Ugandan girls with sanitary pads. Government found her choice of language obscene, indecent and against the Ugandan Computer Misuse Act.
That was long before the Ugandan Ministry of Public Service released a new dress code for its workers. The new code ordered female civil servants to “avoid wearing transparent blouses and dresses at the work place and ensure that clothing covers up cleavage, navels, knees and back.” It also banned female civil servants from coming to work “in open flat shoes except on a doctor’s recommendation or medical grounds.” In a dress code that should make Boko Haram and ISIS quite happy, women are prevented from wearing “brightly coloured hair, in form of natural hair, braids and hair extensions. Those who choose to wear trousers may do so but the trousers must be in the form of smart lady suits with jackets, long enough to cover the bosom”.
Uganda’s public service ministry says it is “mindful of the perception of the public to our officers”, asking – “do you feel okay when you have nails several meters long? It is not neat and healthy and we have to care about the health of public officers.” But the laws are not misogynist, they affect men too as men are ordered to wear “neat trousers, long sleeved shirts, jacket and a tie. Open shoes are not allowed.” Nothing was said about the wolewole or colonial pit helmet popular with Museveni, perhaps it is reserved for the president only. We must ensure that Fayose does not create a haven for female presidential hecklers. Naija women know their place, they don’t talk loudly in the political arena – ask Sai Mama.
Ethical revolution is going on in another part of Africa. Burundi’s cohabiting couples have up to December to marry or face stiff penalties. Pierre Nkurunziza the sit-tight ruiner of the country issued the order recently in a bid to curb population explosion that he blames on illegal marriages, bigamy, polygamy and school-age-pregnancies. Some governors in Burundi’s northern region have threatened not to register children born out of wedlock. With time, bastards may have to create their own roads, source for their own water and perhaps establish their own country.
So, next time you hear Fayose run his mouth anyhow, it’s his right to freedom of expression.