Mochudi East MP, Isaac Davids, has complained bitterly about Btv showing very young children (“bana ba ba nyennyane”) performing dirty dances.
Conflating the state broadcaster with the ruling Botswana Democratic Party, the MP charged that this unholy alliance is “turning our children into models at a very young age.”
“You don’t seem to realise that go astray at this point. You see them dancing on TV and having their hair styled at hair salons when they should be in school learning. That is not right. I don’t even know where the wigs they wear come from. Let’s stop turning children into models because they can’t do that at the same time that they should be learning Mathematics. The management of Btvshould ensure that children are taught Setswana culture and not that of Diaspora Africans. They are Batswana and should be taught their own culture,” Davids said.
While he never mentioned any one of the dances by name, he would most likely have been referring to one particular dance called twerking which emphasises the buttocks and can indeed have the effect of sexualizing children. Wikipedia defines twerking as “a type of dancing in which an individual, usually a female, dances to music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low squatting stance.” The description of Michelle Olson, a professor of exercise science at Auburn University in the United States, is much more dramatic: “You take a wide stance with your legs turned out at 10 and 2 so your hips are externally rotated. Then you pulse up and down as you thrust the pelvis bone forward and back.” Twerking has been traced back to C├┤te d’Ivoire where it is called Mapouka and has existed for centuries. A celebratory dance for festivals, Mapouka is believed to connect its performers with God.
The Democratic Republic of Congo, whose performers introduced it to Botswana in the late 1990s, has a variation of twerking. Around that time, there was a band called Afro Sunshine whose hypeman-cum-dancer, Bizzah Mupulu, did this dance at shows. Mupulu, who is now a solo act, called this dance “Motlakase” and would invite revellers on stage to correctly do the dance. Apparently, the dance requires great skill in isolating muscles and very few people could do Motlakase right. Then there was no Btv and Motlakase somehow died a natural death.
While Davids can reprimand Btv, he will not be able to do that with Dstv which has channels almost wholly devoted to twerking. This and other programming is very harmful to children and to illustrate this harm, one American writer and parent tells a story of very young, primary-school-age girl saying that her career goal in adult life is to become a “basketball wife.” The girl had been watching a glamorous and self-explanatory reality television series called “Basketball Wives”.