Monday, June 20, 2011

Tell It Like It Is

One of the outcomes of blogging that has been an unexpected perk is the correspondence. Although the comments section on the blog remains quite modest, a number of readers have found gmail much more to their liking :) The one drawback is that between the power rationing and my own writing habits, there tends to be a bit of a time-lag between getting emails and responding to them. I'm working on shortening the response time, but at least I can pretty much guarantee that I do respond to all emails- that's the advantage of having a small blog.

In the meantime I thought I would give you a little info on what kinds of responses I get from readers, since that is the first thing that people ask me. With regards to the East African articles: don't worry, Big Brother hasn't come a-raiding Mikocheni looking for me. And He won't: Tanzania actually is a society in which free speech is tolerated if not necessarily encouraged. Don't take my word for it, try it yourself and see. Besides, the Kiswahili media is far more dangerous, and critical, than English media.

Responders profile: most of you who write in are liberals. Hello, tribe :) Always good to meet you. Some of you are decidedly ujamaa socialists. I'm sorry for your ailment, I hope you get better soon but in the meantime thanks for visiting. Gender dynamics: you are all of you male, except for that one lady who got in touch last week about blogging tips. In fact, you are all male and either in your twenties or fifty and above. It is such an intriguing phenomenon that I have to comment on it.

I am of course obsessed by female voice in public debate. While in Nairobi, someone pointed out that when "disempowered" "minorities" such as women are given an opportunity to express their opinions publicly, they tend to decline. I have no problem with that since the flip side of freedom of speech is the freedom not to speak. Enforced participation is so Ujamaa, you know? Not my cup of tea. And yet... this gendered silence is making me wonder what the situation is. Even the anonymous commentators who reveal themselves in face-to-face meetings are male. You're killing me, here, ladies. Tell me- is there anything I can do to make you more comfortable? A feminist blogger without female online companionship is a sad and pathetic thing to be.

That said, most of your correspondence is about politics and governance and what it does to your individual lives. We're all in this mess of a national project together, aren't we, and talk is therapy. Once in a blue moon someone gets in touch to feed me info about a cause close to their hearts: don't take it personally if I don't put your suggestion on the blog. Sometimes it is off-topic, sometimes I simply don't know enough, sometimes the information is compromized and sometimes it involves a fight that I have decided not to join. But I do try to respond anyways. So, you know, if you have something you want to say feel free to holler. If you use a female name you'll really make my day :)

So to conclude, I have to agree publicly here with fellow Mikocheni resident Kato Lukaija who has been emailing me his campaign to get the issue of male circumcision discussed in the print media. There is something a little bit coercive about the current drive to get men to circumcise so as to minimize the risk of HIV infection, although massive public health drives tend to have that approach. Still, you have a point sir: men are just as entitled as women to defend their bodily integrity and no one should chop anything off you that you intend to keep. Good luck with your endeavors, although you know that the papers will not print such well-researched, explicitly detailed argumentation about the advantages of the foreskin. Sadly, neither can I. Maybe you should start a blog...


  1. Female, feminist and number 1 fan here for the record!

  2. Female follower present and accounted for.


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