‘Please Don’t Emulate Dictator Jammeh’

Activists are raising concern that the newly elected Tanzanian President, John Magafuli, is sadly following in the footsteps of his Gambian counterpart who in December last year declared an Islamic state, pledging to respect the rights of the Christian minority but did the exact opposite. President Yahya Jammeh soon compelled all women public servants, including Christians, to cover their hair. Gambian dictator later rescinded his infamous edit.

President John Magafuli guaranteed the rights of all Tanzanians before and after his election last year. He has since been hailed for being a saviour of a continent majority of whose leaders betray the trust and confidence of their people. But Magafuli too broke his promise when his government banned the wearing of miniskirts to curb the spread of HIV/Aids in the East African country. At least 1.4 million Tanzanians are living with the deadly virus. President Magafuli believes miniskirts encourage the spread of the virus.

Mr. Magafuli, who has already started implementing policies aimed at containing unnecessary public spending and defeat corruption, among others, is accused of slipping into the shoes of Africa’s distateful dictators. Activists beg him not to taste this dangerous route.

Tanzania’s miniskirt ban follows similar moves by Swaziland and Zimbabwe. In both Southern Africa countries, ‘rape-provoking’ miniskirts have been banned. In fact, miniskirt wearing Zimbabwean women were fined chickens and goats.

Activists say African leaders should provide quality healthcare for their dying citizens, raise public awareness and implement scientific measures to curb the rate of HIV infection instead of enforcing dress codes for women. “Their energy must be channelled towards ensuring the health and wellbeing of all citizens,” South African activist founder of Africa Unmasked, Thembi Siweya, wrote on Sowetan Live.

Activists want the likes of Magafuli and Jammeh to regulate men’s lustful behaviour as well because women don’t act in isolation. Some don’t think the miniskirt is the devil, arguing that women wear them in many countries where HIV rate remain low.



  1. Interesting! Do we need civilian presidents or police presidents? We don’t elect our leaders to be moral police. Religion and tradition should take care of them.

  2. Sometimes activism makes you confused, it leaves you struggling between whether to go with human rights or religion. This time I am going with a ban on miniskirts. It must be about the right of both sexes. If the woman has the right to wear anything, the man also deserves the right not to be tempted. These miniskirts cause huge distractions on a man’s life. How many times have they cause accidents. A woman’s body is sacred from too much exposure.

    • Abdul Karim, a miniskirt has never cause any accident anywhere in the world. Accident are cause by irresponsible behaviors of drivers but not women who wear miniskirt. Miniskirt are not distraction to anyone as long as you are not looking at the women’s miniskirts. Mind your business and focus on what matters to you. You shouldn’t tell women what to wear and what to do with their bodies. Our women respect themselves because they know what dress code is suitable for them. Did they tell you your bear is offensive to them? Come on, don’t be distracted by those miniskirts if you don’t have bad intentions.

  3. Ismail Senghore

    It is always about a woman this, a woman that. What an unjust world for a woman!

  4. The world over, everybody understands decency and what constitutes decent dressing. All the major religions of this world preach decency more so, in dressing. I am not so sure how much scientific evidence Tanzania has in linking indecent dressing by women (semi-clad women) to the rise of HIV/AIDS in the country. However, if it is scientifically proven that there exists a strong correlation between the two, certainly it would not be out of place for the country to take corrective measures. Taking these corrective measures should not be interpreted as drifting into religious and/or moral territory. Rather, it should be regarded as discharging a sacred constitutional responsibility of guaranteeing the welfare of the citizenry for which one is paid, as the Head of State, to do. It carries the same appeal as defending the territorial integrity of the country and thus saving the lives of the citizenry against foreign aggression. After all, historically, “Miniskirts” are alien to most African cultures. Beyond pre-historic times, Africans have always been identified with very decent dressing. I am a strong proponent of the view that in integrating with the wider world, we must adopt what is good of others’ cultures whilst retaining what is good of ours. This is civilization. Civilization is not the total adoption of every garbage that comes from other cultures. That is self-destruction.

    Given the above, therefore, escalating what I consider a “Social Welfare” policy to the level of dictatorship is akin to a storm in a teacup. And, by extension, comparing Magafuli to Yahya Jammeh and the type of dictatorship in The Gambia is serious hyperbole. Yahya Jammeh is in his own league, rivaled only by the Bokassas, Idi Amins and the Samuel Does of yesteryears.

  5. Janko Camara , I think it is indeed wrong to suggest that miniskirts are alien to most African cultures . During prehistoric time up to independence , most Africans didn’t dress up like the way the majority do now . Africans dress code evolve with time . In Most African cultures , covering of genital area were the most significant practice and this was done with the used of animal skins and tree leaves or other materials . In some tribes, women don’t wear cloth on their upper bodies which resulted to the exposure of breast. In other African cultures men also do not wear clothes on their upper bodies but instead wear miniskirts . Therefore it is false to assume that miniskirts are alien to African culture . In many African cultures both men and women wear miniskirts in the past and even today some do . You need to learn more about diversity of African cultures before making generalization . Not long ago , in The Gambia many children go bear footed because of lack of proper foot wear but today you hardly see that except in the remote part of the country . We have evolved with our dressing code due to western influence , importations of other cultures and religions as well as progress made by Africans themselves in clothing industry . Those women who do not wear bra or cover their upper bodies in the past do not see their breast as sexual object but they considered breast simply as means to feed their babies . How would you react to a woman today walking in the street of Banjul without covering her upper body and her Breast is expose to the public ? I am sure you will be offended and call her immoral .
    Presidential directive to ban miniskirts has nothing to do with “sacred constitutional responsibility to guarantee the welfare of the citizens” rather it is dictatorial policy or directive to infringe on the rights or freedom of citizens which is the right to wear appropriate clothes of choice without violation of social code or values . Islamization of African continent has gone to the extend that we lost our cultural heritage and we always believe that anything that goes against Islam is western concept , forgetting there are some practices in our culture which are not in line with Islam .
    Dictatorship is not only about torture , murder , illegal detention of citizens but it is simply about imposing your ideas or beliefs on people how to live their lives and how to govern themselves with total disregard to the law of the land ( constitution ). While we are all advocating for democracy and rule of law for our country , we must always refrain from using our narrow religious beliefs as a means to police the society about what to wear , eat or do . Miniskirts are not the problems of our society but our problems are simply lack of ability to utilize our brains , minds or intellect on things that would improves our lives .
    Since you are not sure about The link between so called indecent dressing to Hiv/AIDS increased in that country , I think it is erroneous to assume that such corrective measures is the right course of action . Leaders can’t make important decision based on assumption .,How about the western society or other societies where miniskirts are so prevalent but you have very low rate of HIV/AIDS ?

  6. I think the author wrote this piece without thinking well about it. We are all fighting against dictator Jammeh, so if you compare him to a president who is being liked by almost half of the continent means you are promoting him indirectly. Tanzanian president is the talk of the continent.

    Mohamed Keita
    Basel, Switzerland