It is easy to forget just how much western influence has come to determine what Africans and African countries value, and how they treat their citizens and Africans from other countries based on those values. There are few things Africans have latched on to and become fanatical about quite like Christianity. Sure Christianity has brought a lot of good to the continent (debatable to some) but it has also become the excuse and the tool with which some members of African societies oppress others. Christian values have somehow snuck its way into the constitutions of the major countries on the continent, even going as far as influencing public policy. Zambia took it one step further last week when they deported a South African performer, Zodwa Wabantu, for ‘undermining national values’.
Zambia ranks up there with Uganda in their nationwide embrace of Christianity as a national religion. Zambia has often referred to itself in public circles as a ‘Christian nation’ and has used Christian doctrine to decide public policy and national decisions. Zodwa Wabantu, a South African multivariate performer had built some infamy before she was invited to Zambia to perform, for her refusal to wear underwear during performances. This is fairly understandable considering in South African culture, partial nudity is not associated with sex, and it is celebrated South African culture for maidens to bare their breasts. The censorship of this traditional Zulu tradition, even in South Africa has inspired artists like Wabantu to protest by reclaiming autonomy over their bodies.
Wabantu was invited to Lusaka, Zambia’s capital to perform at an album launch, and once the government got wind of this, they forced her promoter, Lucky Munakampe to send her back to South Africa and issued her a deportation in the process.
Even if we ignore the irony of a performer being deported when she was simply asked to perform in a show that explicitly stated what the artists performance shtick was, can we ignore the policing of women’s bodies that Zambia is trying to couch under religion. Is this the start of a trend that will most likely spread to other hypocritical African countries.
We can only wait and see. And while we do, Zambia owes Wabantu an apology.