Dancing for social media: the generation’s aspiration?


…activist faults imitation, promotion of western culture in Malawi
…say social media usage in Malawi should be controlled

Videos of children uncontrollably twerking, shaking their waists and doing all sorts of dancing styles has become the order of the day on social media in Malawi.

While a few dancing videos flooding social media platforms are culturally educative and traditionally acceptable, most of the videos carry no meaning, but rather seem to demean the true definition of traditional dances as the dancers do it for comments and likes or with an aim to go viral.

The trend has not spared Malawian children who have now instead of aspiring to be doctors, lawyers, engineers and all other better professions, they are now made to believe that dancing for social media can earn one popularity.

It is very certain that most Malawian children are now aspiring to become musicians, comedians, tiktokers or models since that is what they are seeing their parents, elders and friends doing on daily basis through videos which are posted on social media platforms.

With the flooding of such videos of indecent dancing styles on social media platforms, then what does the future holds for Malawi and its cultural beliefs?

Mphwanye Katopola Zimbiri is one of Malawi’s a Cultural Activists who described as surprising the current trend by members of the society, children inclusive to be indulging in such behaviours which he said is against the Malawian moral values.

He said before Africa was colonised, there were good spiritual and cultural systems which saw most African countries including Malawi ably managing and preserving their culture but only to be defeated by white people who brought religion.

Katopola Zimbiri who was in total disbelief of what’s happening now, said the flooding of twerking videos on social media platforms, signifies how western culture is being promoted and how it has defeated the Malawian culture.

The cultural activist who described Malawi as a “confused state”, further pointed out that such vigorous shaking of waists and bodies was only recommended for the adults when Malawian culture was bound.

“What we are doing now, is a total confusion, Malawi is a confused state. We are imitating the western culture. We used to have special times for these other type of dances where adults only could gather at night and enjoy such dances.

“But now people are just doing it anyhow. In the past, a Malawian child would not twerk in public but because the western culture has flooded the social media, television stations and the internet at large, we feel we own such culture and we think that’s okay,” worried Katopola Zimbiri.

In his description of culture being a broader thing that needs to be protected as it shapes a nation, Zimbiri mentioned that the genesis has been Malawian children’s exposure to western contents which they end up imitating.

He then slammed Malawian authorities for being too indulgent on suppression of these other materials which he considered to be objectionable, harmful, sensitive, and inconvenient to the Malawian cultural beliefs.

The activist further said the country risks to go extremely poor if there shall not be quick remedies towards ending further exposure of Malawian kids to such videos of indecent dancing styles.

“About the future, its poverty because the end result of every disorder is always poverty. You may see that there is no one Malawian body which is interested in ending these conducts. I once went to the censorship board where I asked them to think of filtering some contents on local televisions, especially MBC Tv.

“I suggested that these other videos should not be watched by children, they should be aired at least at night, but nothing happened. I think we don’t have standards on explicit stuff. We cant sell Malawian products if we keep on imitating foreign traits or cultures and the end result will be poverty in Malawi. Lets stop promoting western culture,” he added.

Katopola Zimbiri also faulted some Malawian musicians who he said have no interest on promoting Malawian music genres, a development which he said will see them having no gains on the international scenes claiming there is too much imitation of foreign genres.

On the other hand, Pastor Daniel Walusa of Global United Believers (GUB) Church who was commenting on the religion perspective of the matter, said he is not surprised that the dancing trend has even encroached the church fraternity.

Walusa was reacting to a video which trended recently on social media platforms showing young women wearing Seventh Day Adventist Church’s Dorcas uniform, uncontrollably twerking and shaking their waists in front of a camera.

However, he said this is not a development to worry about saying it is very few church goers who are indulging in such “strange behaviour”, but he expressed concern that Malawian kids are being exposed to too much unnecessary information.

Pastor Walusa then joined calls on the need to control social media usage in Malawi just like China where people below the age of 14, are not allowed to stay on tiktok for more than 40 minutes in a day.

“We have exposed our kids to a lot of information which is not suitable for them. I will give you an example, if you look at tiktok being used in China, you will see that it is too different from the one being used in Malawi. Their tiktok is full of education and I am told that anyone who is below 14 years old, cannot be on tiktok for more than 40 minutes in a day.

“Their tiktok is more controlled than ours. So when these young ones keep on seeing such silly videos, they are modelled because they see those people who are twerking as heroes and in the end they try to copy. We have exposed our kids to the bad aspect of social media,” said Pastor Walusa.

Pastor Walusa also challenged religious leaders to take the responsibility to educate and sensitise youths to always stick to materials that will build them and further urged religious leaders to create platforms that can be linked to people’s social media accounts in order to ensure that even when people are watching such indecent acts, they should be redirected to proper contents.

While encouraging Christians to avoid these dancing trends as the bible urge believers to refrain from evil acts, Walusa said these other trending videos will at some point see such people especially ladies, failing to get a serious marriage partner.

“These other faces which are seen in these videos, if some people recognise them, they may be put off, men may tend to avoid themselves from marrying those ladies. So you need to ensure that whatever you are doing, you should also look into the future,” he added.

Earlier this week, one Facebook user cautioned parents on the dancing trends saying: “Dear parents. It might be cute to see your child doing these Tik Tok trends. But being someone that works with kids for at least 11 hours per day, I want yall to reduce or stop their social media consumption because they actually know dance challenges more than they know their school subjects and it’s a very alarming situation.”

With all these modern dancing moves to amapiano tunes, will the younger generation spare some time and get to know Chitelera, Mganda, Beni and other traditional dances, or the rest we forget?