When We Took the Kardashians for Role Models; #Ifikiewazazi

With the advent of social media, we’re more connected than at any other point in history. This has led to many positive outcomes; best of them being the rise of online communities. We no longer have to leave the comfort of our homes to reach out to people with interests similar to ours. From the fashionistas, work-out freaks, beard gangs to my fellow nerds and bookworms. All these thriving communities are a testimony to what we human beings can achieve when we come together. Same can apply to the evil we can spread. Case example; #IfikieWazazi.

So unless you’re not Kenyan, or for the past few months been living under a rock you’ve obviously heard of the trend #IfikieWazazi. Here’s a brief summary. Following the ongoing lecturer’s strike which began earlier this year, university students started posting these highly sexualized, extremely provocative, not to forget demeaning images of their mates under the hashtag “IfikieWazazi”. We love trends, so anyone who saw these posts and had nothing better to do, would retweet them to reach a wider audience in the hope that the pictures will “reach the parents”. To show them what their kids are doing at this time when no studies are taking place at the university. Vigilante slut-shaming on a large scale.

To begin, the images which are said to be “photoshoots” are vile. I scrolled through horrors on my newsfeed. Young girls, semi-nude, on leashes, guess that’s why they call them b******. It’s demeaning. If the youth are the future and the hope for this society, do we really have a future worth looking forward to. What’s up with the millennials?

A few days back, I joined redcross on their outreach to little sisters’ old people home in Tudor. Like any young person in the presence of people who have had the chance to witness three generations grow up, I was curious to ask, “What do you think are some of the things that have changed, and what might it be that you miss about the old days?” Okay, some of the people in this home are a bit delusional but on this question, I received a kind of registerable pause. You could feel him tapping into the old people wisdom bank. He mentioned a bunch of things that I honestly didn’t understand but finally he said, what he believes is that we’ve lost our values as human beings. Then I thought about #ifikiewazazi, and how true that was.

For some people, when they hear about #Ifikiewazazi, they think of it as a bad trend which has to be stopped. The hashtag isn’t even the problem. For those more awake we come to acknowledge that the hashtag is just a reason for revelation, this shamelessness and rottenness has been there all along. An inner reflection of our society.

Some say it’s just a show for publicity. We’ve all heard of the saying that all publicity is good publicity, yeah? Could it be? It goes to show how lowly people would stoop just to be registered present. The lavish life of fame, money and nudity has been oversold to us and it seems like it’s the only life we deem worthy copying. Just look at who our role models are?

Anyways, we’re not here for blame games… we’re part of the solution. First of all, these female empowerment people have a lot on their hands. It scares me how comfortable our girls are with being objectified? And those are just the few that we saw?

Then to my young people, peer pressure is real. You deserve better friends. There’s more to life than just living in the moment. There’s people looking at you, others looking up to you and a future to look forward to. The consequences of your actions will be felt somewhere. You’ll probably be a parent someday, and the internet never forgets. Be cautious of what you do in there.

As for those starting these trends, stop being part of the problem. Please!

#Ifikiewazazi, change, kenya, millenials, morality, peer pressure, rotten culture, slut shaming, thoughts, trends, values, young


Hassan Kassim

Hassan Kassim is a Mombasa-based Creative non-fiction writer, recently longlisted for the Toyin Falola prize, blogger and translator of Kiswahili work. A beneficiary of the Penpen program by African Writers Development Trust(AWDT) commissioned by Culture at Work Africa and the European Union(E.U), and holds his Bachelor’s degree in Maritime Management. Hassan writes about the ill-documented Communities of Coastal Kenya. His work has appeared in Writers Space Africa; his 2 non-fiction stories published in the anthology 'Twaweza,' a collaborative effort of 12 African writers on the African identity and set to appear in the forthcoming anthology for the Toyin Falola prize.

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Hassan Kassim is a Kenyan-based Creative non-fiction writer, blogger and translator of Kiswahili works with over 2 years of experience. A beneficiary of the Penpen program by African Writers Development Trust(AWDT) commissioned by Culture at Work Africa, and holds his Bachelor’s degree in Maritime Management.

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