Friday, January 27, 2017

Video of flogged woman causes discussion on Facebook

Freddy Macha

Freddy Macha 

By Freddy Macha

Usually most images posted on social media do not have captions. The majority, ordinary citizens (with no journalistic training) copying and pasting them to the public eye have received them elsewhere and merely want to “ have no comment”, share for the sake of it, or simply show neutralism.

We are in the era of citizen journalism and anyone can give us anything. No boundaries. Just a few professionals put on meaningful captions. Most of us think the Internet is a place of self-exhibition and self-reassurance.

This is me. I am still here. Look at me. But the duty of social information, as every true journalist knows is to inform, educate, and break the news.

That is why I liked a caption put on by a prominent and cultural activist Tanzanian businessman recently. He said in dual language:

“Cruelty against women goes unabated in Tanzania

Ukatili dhidi ya wanawake unaendelea bila vikwazo Tanzania!”

Very impressive. No Swanglish. No half this and that…

Tanzania is a bilingual country although many folks speak more Kiswahili than English. To put such a caption has intent of community responsibility and an educated mind. Education is not just titles, degrees and academic maandazi. It is like Mwalimu Nyerere used to say, giving back to your people. Not necessarily materially, though!

The harrowing video is 2 minutes approximately and really uncomfortable to watch. Three men hold an unidentified female like a sack of maze or a goat ready to be slaughtered. One has both legs together; second grips the hands and a third keeps his foot on her shoulder – so that the victim cannot escape. I say victim, with a same bias as the writer of the caption. What would she have done to deserve such humiliation in 2016-2017 Tanzania?

We are not told why the grown up woman being flogged endlessly by both men and women deserves this torture. We are not told where it happened either.

The only way to gauge and understand the clip is through the various reactions, exhibited in typical Facebook manner. Likes, comments, etc.

Do you click “like” because you have enjoyed her ordeal or for what? These are seven clicks at the time I was writing this piece on Monday night.

Then there are the shares. Fourteen in total. Obviously by sharing the horror, the Facebook crowd would be spreading the bi-lingual message. Thanks God.

On the third part are the comments. Over ten comments, in Kiswahili, mostly. There are those who wonder how come some of the “beaters” are women, beating their fellow woman?

There is one who explains that the victim was given a choice of being burnt to death or flogged. Then there are the analysts. One brief view claims males are also flogged. It is not just women. Which is true?

Someone quotes Mwalimu Julius Nyerere’s quest to have those convicted of corruption flogged back in the days of Ujamaa–10 times as they enter prison and 10 when they leave. The quest was however deleted to “Wazungu” saying it is a breach of human rights to flog, says the claim.

Indeed the video is causing a lengthy debate. A genuine one on the issue of public flogging.

Such form of punishment is according to the UN practised in very few places on earth, i.e. in Muslim societies when enforcing the Sharia Law and a few others, including Tanzania.

Flogging has been around for as long as we have existed on Mother Earth. It was very common in ancient times but has been abolished in developed communities. Like other forms of public humiliation, the aim is to deter those who might be tempted to violate social norms.

We know that in most African societies, women are still discriminated in all sorts of ways, and especially rural areas.

Here are greater parts of the population, who do not get enough education. We have heard of the so called female witches being burnt to death. Two years ago a video of such victims circulated on social media as well. It was not just women but males as well.

The incident in Kenya has since generated over a million views. Such clips are many and help portray some of horrible traditions across our beloved Africa.

Meaning practices goes on “unabated” as the Facebook caption pointed above.

The main question are these: Are these practices useful? Are the so called “social culprits” truly guilty? Who knows if they were really guilty?

Even if they were witches, committed adultery or stole some property, does flogging stop others from doing it? Are these tools of extreme punishment better than what we call “humane” ways of punishment, i.e. court of law, prisons and fines?

How come in the developed world murders of children, rape of women and killings continue to rise (and rise) despite perpetrators getting life sentences and sometimes lethal injections (in the US for example)? Which is best? And what would work better to stop terrible rimes?

London, 19 January 2017 Email:, Web: