Friday, 23 January 2015

Sex tapes, unclothed pictures reign – Is Zimbabwe’s culture under siege?

Publicly discussing sex has been taboo in Africa, particularly in Zimbabwe. Rarely are sex and sexuality issues openly discussed except where a socialite is involved in some indiscreet behaviour.

Even the scourge of HIV and Aids has failed to make the communities open up as patriarchs and matriarchs continue to keep a lid on all sexual matters in the name of preserving tradition.

Parents of adolescents today grapple with such issues as the role of aunts and uncles continues to be eroded by the disintegrating traditional family structure and urbanisation, particularly the advent of social media that has broken geographical boundaries and given rise to globalisation.

The new phenomenon has resulted in cultural imperialism where Western stereotypes have dominated our own fragile cultures. Modernity has changed social relations in the home as most families now spend the little available family time on the “not-so social” social media.
Sex tapes, unclothed pictures reign – Is Zimbabwe’s culture under siege?
In the social spaces, an overdose of foreign cultures especially foreign sexual habits has been misconstrued as dynamism and in the process creating hordes of cultural orphans; particularly ethnocentric views of the Western culture seem to dominate the African space.

The music and movies people consume are all aiding and abetting to a cultural disaster mainly due to denialism which has also resulted in unrealistic approaches in dealing with issues of sexuality and sexual matters.

The recent publication of a story about top model Malaika Mushandu’s alleged nude pictures drew a lot of ire in some while in others it simply confirmed their stereotype that modelling was for people of loose morals.

While nudity is nothing new, many Zimbabweans feel it still has to remain in private spaces and documenting it is rather gross in Zimbabwe where nudity itself remains illegal and classified as obscene or pornography.

Malaika is one of the most successful Zimbabwean models to be ranked in the top 10 of Miss World at the apex of her career. For that rare achievement on the ramp, she won a degree of respect from many.

It remains too early to judge how her career will turn out after the publication of her nude pictures, but society at times is unforgiving. The situation is compounded when ruthless public opinion is passed even by people who are not experienced or qualified to comment on the subject.

That is the age of social media. While Malaika is not the first one whose nude pictures have gone viral in recent times, that she had been a revered figure in society has broken many people’s hearts.

She does have her predecessors who have been naked in the public eye who have faced the same fate and Malaika definitely should have known better for the implications on her actions.

Names like Tinopona Katsande and the erstwhile couple of Pokello Nare and Stunner come to mind.

Although a number of hardliners and feminists still fight in her corner, Katsande lost her job at ZiFM Stereo where she was doing very well at the breakfast show. Before Katsande was Pokello and Stunner in their famous sex tape that ushered the earlier into the limelight.

Pokello was known by a few important people as a rich socialite and nothing more.

The sex tape brought her fame and she got her ticket into the continental reality show Big Brother Africa; probably because someone witty thought she would have sex in the house and that would boost their viewership.

She did, however, find love in the house falling for Ghanaian Elikem with who she still is in a relationship although many believe it was a union of convenience being used to bring Pokello more fame.

She had become a national “celebrity” due to the sex and her role in Big Brother. Who knows; maybe she could soon become international. Stunner, on the other hand, may still be ruing the day he shot that video as he lost many endorsement deals and is still trying to gain lost ground.

He had become a star for many with his somewhat fathomable music by the standards of his peers yet he lost it all.

Talk of contrasting fortunes.

For Pokello, however, it appears to have worked the Kim Kardashian way as she was only known as a rich girl with no success story to attach to it in Hollywood as either an actress or a singer.

But she has made even more money and makes it into every other magazine daily across the world while her partner in the sex tape Ray Jay keeps sliding down the fame ladder.

He is even fighting to make news throwing in one or two controversies around; grovelling for relevance.

So which one is Malaika going to be?

But no matter the outcome, the question which now remains is that are these exposés herald the advent of a new sexual phenomenon. Has Zimbabwe joined the growing list of countries that are obsessed by social media to the extent of sexting and indulging in phone sex?

Sexting is a way of sending sexually explicit messages between people to arouse each other sexually. This has become so common in local societies and is responsible for wrecking a good number of marriages.

Phone sex also uses the fixed phone and mobile phone as a medium and according to a number of online sites one has to get rid of their self-consciousness and indulge. It may also include the sending of pictures.

Since most of these photos and videos are shot in private and in adult spaces the question then is where does one draw the line? Nudity in Harare clubs has become normal and the law to some extent even provides for it.

So where does adult entertainment end? How does one protect the images or videos from getting into the public domain? In some instances documenting such things is utter mischief and publication unintended yet when it appears the storm cannot be weathered.

Pastor Charles Charamba said there are a lot of reasons for such behaviour although most of them are caused by abuse of technology.

“There are a lot of issues involved, but one of the most prevalent is abuse of technology. Technology is falling into the hands of the wrong people,” said Charamba.

“In the past, people did not have the gadgets that have flooded the market.”

Charamba said the situation is also exacerbated by globalisation.

“There are things that people were once afraid of but they do them now because they have seen it being done somewhere,” he said.

“This leads to erosion of culture. We now take things lightly and we forsake our culture.”

The question, however, remains: Why have people become so obsessed with the desire to take themselves nude pictures and sex videos despite the negative consequences encountered in Zimbabwe’s polarised societies?
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