Yesterday, respected Kenyan journalist Boniface Mwangi shared a tweet alleging that two fashion bloggers Tracy Nduta and Keillah Okari had been arrested by Kenyan police in the middle of a photoshoot they were participating in. This incidence is the first of its kind in Kenya and is far more complicated than we imagine.
Two fashion bloggers, Tracy & Keillah have been arrested by police in South B. @PoliceKE didn’t arrest the 2 photographers who were doing the shoot but took away the ladies. Police falsely claim they were taking indecent pictures.They’re headed to Industrial Area Police Station. pic.twitter.com/BpcmyqKjT7
— Boniface Mwangi (@bonifacemwangi) April 26, 2018
According to reports, Nduta and Okari were arrested as a result of a social media trend called #IfikieWawazi, which came to being after Kenyan teenagers began to take sexually suggestive photos as a form of social media clowning. Adults ‘incensed’ at the perceived ‘perversions’ of these teenagers started the #IfikieWawazi hashtag to share these ‘indecent’ photos with the primary aim that the photos would spread through Kenyan social media and eventually find its way back to their parents or extended family. I will not even going into how ridiculous it would be to punish teenagers for being teenagers by sharing their sexually suggestive photos, the very photos that you claim to be offended by as a way to ensure they are disgraced in their families. But then again, there is very little that makes sense when it comes to African moral codes.
When the Kenyan police were asked why Nduta and Okari, who are well known fashion bloggers with online portfolios that could have easily been pulled up and verified, were being arrested when the photographers participating in the photoshoot for which they were being arrested were not, the police offered the claim that both women were involved in ‘Indecent Exposure’ and would potential incite a new wave of #IfikieWawazi.
Why do we continue to police the sexualities of women and young adults in Kenya? Why do we do it anywhere in Africa? When will our law enforcement learn to mind its business and focus on the true challenges its citizens face?