by David Kashiki
LUSAKA, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- Former Zambia's minister of higher education, Michael Kaingu's daughter, Iris, has received sharp criticism after nude pictures of her in animal body paint went viral on social media fora.
This is the first time in the history of Zambia, that a woman has bared her body and allowed an artist to cover her private parts in body paint.
Iris Kaingu, 26, a female who shot to fame after her college sex tape went viral five years ago, has been sharply criticized by women as her body pictures are shared on line.
Topping the list of those criticizing Iris Kaingu's act of stripping her body to be painted, is the country's women body, the Women's Lobby Organization who through its board chairperson, Beauty Katebe, has described the act as demeaning to the women in the country.
"That girl is a problem; it's quite embarrassing and demeaning to the women folk in this country. Whether she can change or not, depends on herself and her upbringing. There are a lot of things that have been discussed over [Iris] Kaingu...perhaps being naked in public is her conviction," Katebe remarked.
Ireen Shawa, a Lusaka resident, complained that Iris had defiled the country's culture.
"There's no way a woman can disrespect her body in that manner. This has never happened here in Zambia. In my over 40 years of living here on earth, I've not seen such a thing," she said.
"Of course we have a traditional ceremony in Eastern Province of Zambia where older women bare their breasts; but, look, that is a traditional ceremony where no man plays with the women's private parts like this young girl allowed a man who is not her husband to play with her most private parts," she added.
Another woman, Lucy Sianga said African women's nakedness was sacred as it was still regarded a taboo for anyone to bare their body in public.
"You see, a woman's body is very special. Especially here in Africa, and Zambia in particular; we so much respect tradition. For us, a woman's body is a blessed structure, which can only be seen by a husband in the case of a man. It is not to be shown to the world. Iris is frustrating our efforts to sustain our culture and tradition. Of course such kinds of art happen out there, in the developed countries in Europe, Asia, America, and others, but for Africa, this is shocking and depressing," Sianga said.
But Iris has defended her decision to have a body painted in animal print, saying there was need for women to see the bigger picture of the reasons she bared her body for painting.
"I was just depicting the culture of our country. We were not clothed before missionaries came on board and gave us clothing. We used to wear animal skin and I think that everybody here is very familiar with this history," she said.
According to her, she decided to bare her body because she feels passionate about the country's culture which was slowly being lost due to western influence.
"I feel that we are slowly losing the depth of ourselves. So, one point of the picture is that women are not celebrated enough, so, I feel that we live in society where when a woman wants to rise up, most people especially the women want to bring them down. That picture is actually intended for a project that I am working on. It's unfortunate that it was leaked before it's time," she said, rejecting accusations of her like for being naked.
But the women's movement maintained that her attempt to justify her actions was not going to convince anyone.
"She will not manage to convince everyone else with that explanation. All this borders on her self-introspection and upbringing," Katebe said.
But Jacob Zimba, aged 34, a marketeer at Lusaka Soweto Market said Iris had a right to do what she did.
"We enjoyed looking at her pictures. This was the first time. And, you know, she has a nice body; I think for me, all she did is art, there is nothing wrong. There's nothing sinister about it. People have reacted this way because it is the first time it is happening here in Zambia. But I can tell you that, most men have been re-sharing those pictures, they are a good sight," Zimba said.