Opinion: This week, the government found a way of keeping the public busy through its recent code of dressing among public servants. The four hundred or so members of parliament, the bridge between citizens and government, saw grave importance in discussing public service dress codes rather than more pressing matters.
In the old days, before the arrival of missionaries, men barely dressed and women only covered their breasts and wore skirt-like cloths that didn’t reach their knees. That was the dress code that our ancestors were comfortable with. However, today’s generation finds comfort in blaming indecent dressing on the Western culture. It’s not the case!
If it wasn’t for the coming of the missionaries, for which we should be very thankful, short skirts and blouses would be the least of our worries. The long dresses and ‘kanzus’ we insist on calling our cultural attire were introduced by foreigners. We ought not to forget that! This isn’t the topic of this article, however, I thought it was important to strain that both the decent and indecent attire of today are products of foreign culture.
The death of decent dressing in Uganda was caused by poor parenting. Therefore, it is pointless for the government to intervene in the dress code of the Ugandan civil servants. Looking at its details, the code simply tells the women to dress like nuns and the men like catechists. However, I would like to stress that it isn’t the government’s job to monitor the dress code of the nation.
Parents should train their children to adopt a decent mode of dressing and think of it as smart. At a young age, parents make choices for the children in the field of fashion. Research suggests that a child’s mind learns most between the ages of five and fifteen. Therefore, if a parent filled their child’s closet with short dresses (which is the case), the child will adopt that kind of clothing as the ideal dress code.
The other birth of indecent dressing is schools. The system of uniforms kills the child’s sense for making undictated choices in clothing. The uniform policy, I believe, is a way for schools to scratch something off their responsibilities’ list.
Seeing as children don’t wear uniforms out of school, it is important that uniforms are taken out of school systems. This way, a broad sense of fashion among students can be corrected. In other words, if teachers find that students are wearing very short clothes of their choosing, they can correct that by advising without dictating. Since learning is done in school, what better way to shape a better dressed generation?
All that is the reason I think that the Ugandan government is failing to set its priorities straight. While these public servants might comply with the code, the services provided will still be alarming. It is all about smart waiters serving spoilt food!
Now that the government has got the public focused on decency, it can mishandle all its other vital responsibilities. It is appalling to see that there is a solution for indecently dressed public servants and none for the ongoing unaccounted for murders. There hasn’t been a way forward mentioned for the high levels of insecurity in the country.
Also, are we not to worry about the billions of shillings being returned to the very ministry that is making a fuss about the poorly dressed workers? This stands to show that the management in this sector of government is performing poorly. And their solution for failing to allocate government funds is correcting the dress code.
With our focus turned to indecency, we under-look the worrying lousy parliamentary discussions. The members of parliament should be applauded for their smartness. Let’s give it to them, those folks are the most decently dressed civil servants in Uganda. However, that doesn’t undo the mediocrity of their work!
Often I say that Uganda’s political platform is a theatre and the politicians involved are merely entertainers. Whenever they fail to deliver, they divert the public attention towards a comedy of some sort. Just like they have done with this dress code Bullshit (I apologize for my language).
It would be more promising if our government stopped fooling around with work mean for teachers and parents so that they can focus on the more important matters – those of national concern. The culture of our politics has died! The parliament attaches more significance to indecency than it does to insecurity, mismanaged and unutilized funds, underpaid civil servants with limited resources, bloody land disputes and a Shs180b deal with Roko.
I pray that the parliament holds government accountable for all the things that are going wrong in our political, economic and literacy societies. Then, both parties will have handled their actual duties.