Countless times, I have seen society declare war on women for their clothing choices. This ‘special treatment’ is preserved for African women of course. And by African I mean black.
A ‘white’ woman who wears close to nothing is well within her rights. ‘Whites’, after all, are not expected to adhere to ‘African values.’ Or any values. Their values are dead and gone and the only thing we can do now is to prev
So we must set a constant reminder that when real African women dress up, they ought to take care to cover everything except maybe their heads, arms and legs. Nothing too tight. Nothing too light.
Any woman who acts contrary to that will be shamed. We will raise eyebrows at her and say things. And if it’s on a hot day and we are in a bad mood, we might even castigate her. She must not become so modern to the point of forgetting just how important decency is to us as Africans.
The question is, though, when did decency become an African value? Didn’t our ancestors go about their days wearing Adam’s suit? Didn’t they cover only their ‘essential parts’ with hides and skins and leave everything else exposed? Even to this day, do we not have people in our continent who have no use for clothes?
The funny thing is that we are ashamed of those ‘uncivilized’ Africans. When ‘whites’ take pictures of such people and put them on the internet calling them Africans, we get furious. We get defensive and quickly remind the world that there are many Africans who are enlightened. The naked Africans do not represent us.
But the naked Africans do represent us. Not the ‘decent’ Africans. It’s not ‘African’ to wear clothes, later on ‘decent clothes.’ A ‘real African woman’ does not wear a ground-sweeping dress. She wears close to nothing or even nothing. Every ‘true’ African wears close to nothing or even nothing.
In essence, any argument about decency should not have the word ‘African’ in it. The only reason it does is because we are a confused bunch. We want modernity. We love being able to read and speak our colonizers’ languages. We love the feel of three-piece suits and fake designer shoes. We love silk dresses and Brazilian hair. We passionately advocate for foreign concepts such as democracy and rule of law.
But then these foreign concepts come back to bite us. They start empowering women to become their own people and we don’t know what to do with that. It messes with our patriarchal system and yet our African values (which we are very important to us by the way) say that men are superior, unquestionable and overall.
And now you can’t be polygamous. You can’t just send the woman back to her parents when she misbehaves and get another one. You can’t ‘discipline’ her in peace. Well, at least you can still tell her what she canand cannot wear, right?