Monday, July 25, 2011

DSK & The African Hotel-Maid

I just read the Newsweek expose on the DSK hotel-maid case. It got me thinking: this woman is a from a conservative, Muslim, African (Fulani) culture. To her relatives, clans-people and even countrymen, she's already guilty just by working as a hotel-maid, cleaning the rooms of strange-men (in a foreign-land). We might order take-out sushi and carry smart-phones, but we Africans are still essentially the products of very conservative cultures. And this kind of conservative thinking still holds sway.

I came of age in Harare's suburbs in the 80s. Zimbabwe's post-independence elite aped the (departed) Rhodesian colonialists down to the "T". So we had a gardener, who lived in the "Boy's Kaya" (servant's quarters), and yet none of the female members of the household would even dare enter, or even come close to, our gardener's room. It was not the done thing for women of the house to be inside (or near) a strange-man's room -- even if he was the gardener who worked for us and interacted with us daily. My point is that social mores in Zimbabwe & other African countries are still extremely conservative. In Zimbabwe -- even in this day and age -- any woman who works as a waitress, (or in any other service industry where she must serve strange-men) is seen as being off loose morals.

So, put yourself in the shoes of the hotel-maid in the DSK case. Her life will never be the same; her relatives probably already see her as a "whore"; and her children will face the stigma of being the "sons-of-a-whore". In the traditionally conservative milieu from which she hails, she will forever be looked upon with a jaundiced eye. I really feel for her. It's so sad.

No comments :