Sunday, 29 May 2011


 I have learnt some new interesting English words, recently.
 Normally I expand my vocabulary through novels, films, newspapers and people’s speech. First is injunction which according to the Oxford dictionary, means “an order saying that someone must or must not carry out a certain action.”
Injunction is synonymous with ruling, directive, command, instruction and mandate. In Kiswahili it is simply, “amri ya kisheria iliyoandikwa” and “amri ya kukataza.”
Then there is tweet and twit.  Tweeting is a chirp of a young bird; while twit indicates a silly person and an informal way of “teasing good-humouredly.”   
Three weeks ago a very pretty glamour model from Wales, called Imogen Thomas started appearing frequently in the press.  One paper said a famous, respected, married footballer had won a super injunction to prevent Imogen from exposing his affair with the model.

Imagen Thomas - pic from Bing..

The word, gagging order, was also used. Gagging is a piece of cloth put on someone’s mouth to stop them from speaking.

As days went on other well known figures and celebrities were said to be asking courts to issue injunctions to gag anyone leaking their private scandals and wrongdoing.
In stepped the internet.
The internet is, luckily, country- neutral.  If Syria, China, Uganda, Zimbabwe or any other nation is preventing journalists from exposing ongoing mass unrests, the internet will circulate images which are finally taken by traditional media. The internet has become the hope for truth; beacon of hope, no wonder it is referred as citizen’s journalism. Anyone can log in using a fake name and address and post some information.
And that is how Twitter exposed the well known footballer. Since an injunction had been issued the media could not, legally, name him.
Injunctions are meant to protect lives of celebrities, i.e. naming and shaming, equals losing a livelihood.
I watched an interview between a Sky News reporter and an American guy defending Twitter. The American guy seemed to be making fun of the way injunction works and said we all need “to grow up and catch up with the times.” It is not easy to impose an injunction against social networking sites like Twitter because they are covered by the law of freedom of speech.
Another columnist wrote that Twitter had a made an “ass of the law”. By end of last week, the famous footballer was threatening to sue everyone, including the journalist who had exposed him on Twitter.
On Monday, an outspoken Liberal Democrat MP, Jeremy Hunt exposed the footballer in the House of Commons.

Asked why he named him, the MP is quoted as saying that “it was because Ryan Giggs had threatened to sue ordinary people using Twitter.”
This MP has campaigned feverously against super-injunctions which are now termed the Rich Man’s Law.
Father of two, Ryan Giggs is oldest member of this year’s Premiership champions, Manchester United. Respected, decorated Giggs is winner of several trophies, Player of the Year awards, an OBE (Order of British Empire) as well representing UNICEF in a campaign against landmines killing children in Thailand in 2002.
In rich, developed, Wazungu countries, privacy and freedom of speech are sacred. So is monogamy. Powerful and rich men have affairs all the time; but since the hypocrisy of their so called chastity and goodness is hidden they live on the edge, using privacy law to their advantage.
Lately, the French economist and former International Monetary Fund Chief Dominique Strauss-Khan was arrested for alleged rape. While the truth of these allegations is yet to be proven, it equally throws light on the same matter. I listened to a French journalist describing how it is normal for rich, powerful people in his country having mistresses.
Is it unusual for married African men to have mistresses?
Would injunctions be issued to prevent any married African celebrity being exposed after going with a pretty mama on the side?
What is the difference in culture between our African ways and those of Wazungu? Isn’t polygamy part of so many aspects of our mainstream cultures, in some religions as well as traditional customs? Don’t we still have chiefs who marry new virgins every year?  Aren’t those gagging orders already in force? Who can question political stars that continue ruling African societies for life?
What happened to soccer star, Ryan Giggs, is nothing extraordinary. Married men getting on with secret beauties has always been the norm. What is actually happening is how the New Media is contributing to reveal and unravel hypocrisies and old cultural taboos.

Published in Citizen Tanzania :


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