Magazine article The Spectator

Breast Intentions

Magazine article The Spectator

Breast Intentions

Article excerpt


NOT counting what might happen in my personal life, I don't normally see a bare boob from one month to another. In the UK, of course, one gets to see bare boobs all the time - on television, in the movies and, of course, in the Sun, which, as Kenneth Horne used to say, I buy for the crossword puzzle. But Zambia is a moral country, and, if your adolescent image of African women is drawn from those well-- thumbed pages of the National Geographic, you are much mistaken. There's no topless sunbathing here. No bare-breasted pin-ups, no soft-porn posters. None of that televised Denise Van Outen-style in-yer-face tit-waggling.

At least that was how it was until about a couple of weeks ago. Now suddenly bare boobs are everywhere. It seems you can't turn round without bumping into a wellrounded naked bosom. Virtually speaking, of course. Not literally. Not yet.

It all began in the wake of what, despite emerging evidence of ballot-box-stuffing, bribery and intimidation, we still call our 'election'. Leading the protest against the election result, which re-established the ruling MMD party in power, is, of course, the man who came second - Anderson Mazoka of the United Party for National Development.

The other week some of Mr Mazoka's female fans chose to emphasise their indignation by removing their tops and marching bare-breasted through the streets of Lusaka - with, of course, the press photographers marching backwards some three or four yards in front of them. A government spokesman, when he had got his breath back, was deeply shocked by this display of semi-nudity. And, perhaps ironically, he suggested that if anyone should take off their tops in public, it should be Mr Mazoka himself and his immediate family.

Before I could get a good look at Mrs Mazoka and judge whether such an event might be worth turning up to watch, something else happened, unrelated to the UPND protest but resulting once again in naked women. This time the impetus came from groups of Lusaka `call boys'. No, call boys are not a Zambian version of call girls. They are, to be boringly factual, touts. They drum up custom for our chaotic minibus transport system.

Now the call boys have apparently gone political. They have decided that the new President, Mr Levi `the Cabbage' Mwanawasa, is their man. They look on his programme for Zambia, known rather unimaginatively as the New Deal, as Holy Writ. And somewhere in it, among the smallest of small print, they claim they have found an edict denying women the right to wear miniskirts, tight trousers and other accoutrements emphasising their sexuality. …

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