Monday February 24 2014

Miniskirt ban: Some things in Uganda politics never change

In his 1955 book, Inside Africa, John Gunther narrates an account of the Katikkiro outlawing ‘Western’ dancing in bars and nightclubs. He argued these venues had become haunts of vice, with husbands deserting their wives in droves in favour of prostitutes skilled in the intricacies of Western dancing.

A firebrand editor called the Katikkiro a ‘fool’ for this ridiculous law. The editor was arrested for slander, and sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment. A British judge let him out on bail but the Lukiiko endorsed the Katikkiro’s view and the ban on Western dancing confirmed.

The student journal at Budo called the law a fallacy of the greatest order, and observed of the Lukiiko: “Instead of thinking of ways to develop the country, they engage themselves in political manoeuvres in order that they may be enabled to stay in office for a longer time.

After throwing the editor of the Uganda Post into prison on political grounds, the ... Katikkiro introduced a Bill banning all Western ballroom dancing. The Lukiiko, in a state of frenzy coupled with the fear to oppose the Bill on the part of the chiefs, lest they should lose their posts, passed the Bill. Incidentally, the Lukiiko failed to say which was Western dancing. It seems we can still carry on with the samba, rumba and konga!”

Over half a century later, the mini dress is banned. Some things in Uganda politics never change.

Eugene Kalisa
New Jersey, USA