OCHIENG: The question is how the gender war itself will end


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I first met Yoweri  Kaguta  Museveni  in the early 1970s, when we were both outspoken in Dar es Salaam –  he  as a “revolutionary” student leader on the university campus and I as an equally radical columnist in a newspaper called The Standard Tanzania.

It was at that time that official Dar es Salaam – led by a he-Neanderthal called Rashidi Kawawa, then serving as President Julius Nyerere’s Prime Minister – declared total war on a certain mode of dress by Tanzania’s women.

Though even Kawawa’s intervention was declared a “revolutionary” activity, I do not recall what exactly Mr Museveni thought of it.

Of the early 1970s, what I remember is only that many of Dar es Salaam’s male “intellectuals” welcomed the premier’s onslaught on women as a “revolutionary” activity. 

Many declared it to be in conformity with the fake socialist system called Ujamaa that the ruling Tanganyika African National Union (Tanu) party was attempting to set up nationwide.

However, concerning  today’s events across the Great Lake that geographically unites Kenya and Tanzania with Uganda, the question is ineluctable: Did the Ugandan government consult any woman when, the other day, official Kampala reportedly declared a “total war” on Uganda’s women dressed in a certain way?

Like all of you, I also believe in “decency” concerning dress.

The only problem, I believe, is both the need for every society to agree on (a) a definition of what is “decent” concerning clothes and on (b) how to impose that definition on society without violating any individual’s nature given faculty of choice on the important question of both ethics and aesthetics. 

According to a headline in the Nairobi Nation newspaper on Thursday, today’s “war” in Kampala is on “sexy civil servants”. 

But was the writer of that headline fully aware that he or she was raising fundamental questions of definition? First of all, what on earth are “sexy civil servants”?

Does the writer know civil servants anywhere in the world who are not “sexy”?

How do such civil servants differ from the “unsexy” civil servants and from the vast majority of human beings, especially those who are not civil servants?

It thus raises a most interesting question: In this world, where every educated person has at least heard of Charles Darwin and his evolutionary teachings, why won’t a Neanderthal take even a small evolutionary step to make use even of the little blob of brain that Mother Nature has granted him?

If “sexiness” is a problem, how would Uganda itself have come by the myriad of male pigs who dominate its civil service, its political house, its private business and all its other social sectors?

Nay, even in the world of human pigs, exactly which one of your male chauvinists would have been born if both his parents had not been “sexy”? 

Even given today’s  height of technology – where artificial prevention of  it – have become ordinary articles  even in the Third World – active male insemination of female remains by far the preferred method by which humanity comes by offspring and perpetuates itself as  the mentally dominant species on our planet.

Yet male gender stupidity remains a remarkable feature of a world in which the human species is supposed to be the brainiest and the leading one in preaching an ideal called the “Peaceable Kingdom” – a royal realm which even Euro-Christianity has yearned for ever since the Occident itself fell to the Orient on a human ideal called “heavenly salvation”.

The question, then, is how the gender war itself will end.

Perhaps we can guess from the habit of history to repeat itself.

Yet, among humans, sex is the only method of establishing what Desmond Morris, an intellectual fun-loving English scientist, knew as “pair bonding”.

That is exactly why I cannot think that, in the ongoing gender confrontations, the male pigs are what will carry the victory.

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