“Stop this half-nakedness in offices”

Cultured States – Andrew Ivaska’s exploration of nation building, gender and style in newly independent Tanzania – promises to be a fascinating read. Sixties Tanzania was a difficult place to be for a young woman, with a series of TANU Youth League ‘decency campaigns’ that stretched into the seventies. Mob imposition of strict dress codes – “ban the mini” – was not unusual in the capital Dar es Salaam or places such as Mwanza (h/t @katebomz na baba yake).

But let’s not consign these things to history. Just last Wednesday, the mini was banned in neighbouring Mozambique. To be precise, the Municipal Assembly of Lichinga, capital of Niassa province in neighbouring Mozambique issued a directive banning the mini skirt (h/t @hofrench).

And just last year Tanzania’s First Lady Salma Kikwete advised schoolgirls to maintain modesty at all times:

Girls! You must appreciate that you are pearls and do not hesitate to protect yourselves. Dress respectfully, do not carelessly display your pearls

She advised girls to keep their heads in their books, get a degree and not have their heads turned by older men with some money. She was speaking with her First Lady NGO hat on, touching on issues of transactional sex, self development and HIV and AIDS. But the message remains the same: put some decent clothes on and keep your head down.

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5 responses to ““Stop this half-nakedness in offices”

  1. Good points put together.
    And now you made me think of the recent ban of women wearing trousers in northern Uganda and Sudan…

  2. Hm. I suppose that kills off my “topless Tuesdays” campaign for Dar es Salaam civic pride and beautification. Jokes aside, isn’t this just the flip side of the “men are animals and can’t control themselves a the sight of even the slightest hint of female nudity” argument? How is this realistic/helpful?

  3. “She advised girls to keep their heads in their books, get a degree and not have their heads turned by older men with some money.” This is not particularly bad advice and very relevant in Tanzania today.

  4. Either way, we should all treat Salma with respect. She is too often the butt of people’s jokes.

  5. This is probably the only sign in Tanzania that warns about half-nakedness:
    Beware of halfnakedness

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