For the eleven years I have known mukimo, I have never been able to gather enough interest to want to taste it. The sight, colour and presentation of all mukimo I have encountered have been such that none of my physical senses was appropriately excited into an inquisition. Pale green, mushy, steam-like aroma and served as an idle mound on a plate. My prejudiced contempt for mukimo has reinforced over the years so much that when I later saw its Mexican look-alike, guacamole, I was instantly repulsed. I would be reluctant to even try an improved edition of the meal. Nevertheless, I have numerous friends who get visibly excited at the mere mention of mukimo and relish the dish with admirable delight. It would be uncouth and uncivilized of me to revolt at their love for mukimo merely because I do not share in their choice. Similarly, they would be mistaken to show angst at my distaste for their choice meal.
When we were hunters and gatherers, conformity was a matter of survival. A tribe member who could not eat gazelle meat brought in after an arduous group hunt had two options; hunt his own choice animal or starve! There was little choice: all men were destined to be hunters, eat what everyone else ate, walk like them, and use the same paths, same survival techniques and so on. Dissenters from tribal norms were summarily dealt with by a mob as they endangered the security and survival of the entire tribe. These norms were unwritten and learnt by induction or coercion.
The advent of civilization saw the emergence of among other features: governance, specialization, social stratification and the written language. The greatest of these is writing; it enables the accurate conveyance of ideas between individuals and across oceans and generations. With greater development, societies realized that not all men were destined to be great hunters. Some were better trackers, others butchers, roasters, farmers and so on. Specialization diversified labour and defined roles for everyone in the society. Obviously, some roles were perceived more important than others were thus the emergence of social classes. Cobblers and masons were not in the same social league as healers or priests. Neither were men and women. To cap it, an elite class of governors emerged. These were the leaders upon whom tribes vested authority to maintain social order. In the cave days if one stole your hunt, it was your sole responsibility to go after them, recover your hunt and mete out severe deterrent punishment. If a tribal member went against the norms, anybody sufficiently irked would mete out punishment. Society was not organised and life was a narrow shallow rut.
“Lax, ad hoc and ineffective governance tends to drive citizens back to cave tendencies.”
Civilization reversed this with written rules known to everyone, defined roles for police, leaders, citizens, judges and acceptable dispute resolutions mechanisms. Citizens had to give up their selfish primal instincts to government appointed law enforcers and judges. Needles to add, governments are only as effective as their citizens are willing to give up these base cave-survival instincts for common good. However, governments must in turn always act by the letter of the law and consistently punish defaulters to the written pact. Lax, ad hoc and ineffective governance tends to drive citizens back to cave tendencies while strong predictable and fair governance establishes a virtuous cycle of increasingly civil citizens. Compare the citizens of Switzerland and those of Somali vis-a-vis their governments.
Ripping a woman’s clothes in public by self-appointed non-existent-law enforcers shortly-turned jury and executioners is not a debate of morals or anything else but a crime due to a failure/weakening of governance. There was no written law against the woman’s dress at that place or time. Even if there were, the men who enforced this law clearly trespassed her personal space, illegally arrested her, tried her in an unfair hearing and meted out a punishment outside our penal code. This is simply criminal! It did not happen because she was a woman nor because they did not like her dress. It happened because those men’s civilization is still in the mail. They do not subscribe to a governance system in which the rest of us recognize a written constitution/penal code for rules, police for enforcement, and judges for arbitration. The irony of it all is that these cave-men are incensed by style of clothing yet in their era, clothing had not been invented and their fellows had much more self control as regards nude females. It is a failure of governance because in all likelihood, at least most of them will get away with their barbaric attack.
This failure in governance manifests daily. We have lost over 100 state appointed law enforcement officers at the hands of civilian bandits this year alone. Not a single arrest made! Ordinary citizens are robbed, raped and maimed daily by fellows who have confidence the state structure for law and order will remain off their backs. Grand corruption tales have numbed us into silence for the ease with which perpetrators walk off. These daily infractions on citizens’ lives embolden even lowly touts to take a bite at the sordid cake of impunity in disregard of due process. The losers are the civilized lot who have chosen to turn their backs on cave-survival modes in the increasingly false hope that government will bear upon the rest to uphold the respect for law and order.
I will probably not eat mukimo soon but I recognize my taste as unique to myself. Many other citizens enjoy their real and figurative mukimos: miniskirts, tank tops, leggings, homosexuality, cigarettes, churches and mosques, and that must never offend, arouse, provoke or whatever me. As long as no written law bans mukimo, it not up to anyone to determine the ‘whats’ and’ hows’ of another’s mukimo. Your ill-defined taste (or lack of it) cannot be the gold standard for people who do not even want to know you! And if it hurts you so much, be civil, come with us into the 21st century and follow due process. That said, state organs for governance must reaffirm their monopoly on violence. State power to arrest offenders is a sum of our individual capacity for violence given up on the understanding that the state would exercise it in our defence at our time of need. Consistent failure to offer this protection only erodes our civilization as each seeks to protect themselves. No one should commit a crime and walk scot-free.