‘Bed dancing’ article upsets one reader

Dear editor,

My name is Claire Miti, a concerned Zambian.
I write you to express great disappointment at this article which appeared in
your paper yesterday 12.01.11. My initial reaction was to respond to it on the
blog, but no, that on my part would be to exhibit the same misunderstanding and ignorance in the same way your paper has.
I write with sadness at the short-sightedness with which editorial decision was made to publish in detail such private affairs concerning our cultural heritage considered sacred and private. There is no doubt that the intention of this article was to expose what goes on in the banaChimbusa’s house. But why did the editorial board believe there is a need to expose banaChimbusa? Who are the consumers of such knowledge which is purposely intended to be private and to a specific audience? Culturally, we are a people who have always been aware that there is a time and place for everything, so why in a paper?I cannot understand the purpose it serves to the whole entire nation to bring out into the open such teachings.

Your article has made available knowledge meant to be exclusively for the initiate only to everybody; non-initiates, foreigners who will not understand the culture nor appreciate it, and in turn denigrate it and to all
the males worthy and unworthy of the ritual. You might as well take the Zambian women and have them “busk” at the mall to entertain the public for the amusement of women, men, kids, young and old!

Could you please give an insight into the ethos of your news-reporting regarding topics such as this? Is it educational? Entertainment? And are you going to write about the male initiation of the Luvale, for example?Or any other initiation for that matter? Is this what is called journalism? If that is
journalism in Zambiatoday, who is it for? Is it civilisation, modernism? Has
journalistic voyeurism caught up with the “watchdog” of Zambia? And who is
JUSTINE SIBOMANA? JORRIT MEULENBEEK (the ownership of the article is not clear to me). Did the people in the initiation [he] went to know [he] was writing a news piece about this initiation? What was their response? Or did [he] gain entry into the house under cover with the intention of exposing? Does publishing such an article bring us at par with the Western standard of civilisation and modernism? Is this article now going to boost Zambians’ self-esteem and confidence on the world stage? Has your article achieved the goal and objectives for which it was set out to do and how do you measure that?
In this instance, I can only see an editorial board which has emptied itself of
all of its cultural identity (of thoughts and behaviour especially) and replaced
it with a foreign set of cultural values which requires a total disconnect in
order to deal with the topic insensitively and graphically. Unless the chief
editor of Zambian Watchdog is a muzungu, in which case it doesn’t surprise me. I would like to think a Zambian journalist wrote this article, if it is a muzungu we would be crying “foul” and accusations of a continuation of “rape” of our
continent would be flying from everywhere.

The danger of Western education is that it has armed people like the editorial
board of the Zambian Watchdog with the tools with which to continue the job the colonialist did not finish of desecrating our culture in the name of
civilization and progress. The tragedy is that we ourselves fail to see it as
such.

Today, Westerners can no longer do that in our face in our own countries but continue to do so back at home where Africans are portrayed as the “other”
“peculiar” and an “object” worthy to be studied, controlled and taught. They
rubbish, ridicule, denigrate and dismiss what does not appeal to their Western taste, and what does, they put it through the mill of rationalization and a scientific process, re-package it for our consumption under the label “normal” “progressive” and “civilized.” In the meantime, we standby recognizing our own creative genius in a state of confusion and helplessness unable to do anything, instead we walk away quietly and ask ourselves “where did we go wrong?” and promise ourselves to learn Western values even better so we can fit in.
The backlash of your article is not at home with people who understand and can fill-in the gaps where information is lacking, it is in those places where you cannot reach to correct misinterpretation or misrepresentation of information.
That is where the greatest damage is. Recently, I wrote to the Catholic Church authorities asking them to look into how they collect such information, how it’s disseminated and for what purpose. I got a good initial response because they have understood the ramifications are not just at home but right across the globe. I ask of Zambian Watchdog the same:
To approach such topics with a broad perspective beyond that of our own borders more especially now with the new technology which has the potential of reaching a far wider audience with consequences that affect our interaction with others.

Claire Miti

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