By Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D Professor of Sociology
Kenneth Mwenda, Ph. D., LLD, DSc(Econ), Anthology in Law and the Social Sciences, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada: African in Canada Press (www.africanincanadapress.com) 2016, pp. 1111, $25.00, K230.00, Hardcover.
“A nation that stood tall above others and gave its best to the liberation of Southern Africa from colonial rule and apartheid”. – Kenneth Mwenda
Do you like to wear used or second hand underwear? My answer is that the very thought of my private parts residing in an intimate apparel which had previously housed some other man’s parts, would make my manhood shrink in revulsion.
I would not wear it even if the Ministry of Health had certified the used underwear had been washed in boiling water for 24 hours. Wearing such a used garment would most likely threaten my matrimonial stability as my manhood would go on strike and refuse to fulfill its conjugal obligations. Whatever your answer is, I never knew that there are some men in Zambia, Africa, and probably elsewhere who welcome wearing used or salaula underwear. You may be wondering what wearing used or second hand underwear has to do with the book about anthology of law.
I would not have contemplated let alone been regaled by these thoughts had I completely succumbed to my initial erroneous judgment of the book by its title. Quickly looking at the title amidst the contemporary tidal wave of internet explosion of thousands if not millions of books and other commercial junk that is competing for my attention, I didn’t think the book was for me.
This is because Professor Mwenda is an eminent legal scholar who has a stellar career in the legal profession. He read law at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and has published more than 25 books in the legal field. When I saw an email of the published just hot off of the press, Kenneth Mwenda’s Anthology in Law and the Social Sciences, I assumed if I read the book I would yawn through legalese. When I read the book, I was pleasantry surprised.
Structure of the Book
Kenneth Mwenda’s Anthology in Law and the Social Sciences is one thousand one hundred and eleven pages long of short easy to read articles meant for the non-legal ordinary reader like you and I. The volume is divided into three parts A, B, and C with a total of 88 chapters. Although he calls most of the 88 short articles “chapters”, let that not intimidate you as I was able to read many of the first 25 “chapters” or articles in between watching a boring blow out American “National Basketball Association” (NBA) basketball playoff game in which the San Antonio Spurs trounced the Oklahoma City Thunder 124-92.
The format of the articles is that Prof. Mwenda raises a subject of very high public interest such as “should you wear used underwear”? He includes interesting anecdotes in the stories. Then he skillfully infuses and injects a legal perspective or public law into it. In this way the articles both entertain and educate you, they expose the reader to topics they never thought or knew about, and how the topic may relate to both national and international law.
For example, although I would not want to wear used or second hand underwear, I am not sure I want to stop other people who might make the choice. After all, the famous saying is that “One man’s meat is another man’s poison”. But Zambian law does not think so. “In Zambia, the Inspection and Acceptance Criteria for used Textiles Products (ZS 559:2004) criminalizes the selling or buying of second-hand underwear.” (p. 24) According to the article, other countries such as Zimbabwe and Ghana have passed similar laws prohibiting the sale of second-hand underwear for hygiene reasons.
I would not have known this was even an issue if I had not read Kenneth Mwenda’s Anthology in Law and the Social Sciences. I am assuming some men like myself might have strong views against wearing used underwear. What about women? Would they wear used underwear? Would they wear a second-hand bra?
As I read article after article, Kenneth Mwenda’s Anthology in Law and the Social Sciences did not disappoint me. The first few that I have read include: “Legalizing marijuana: to smoke or not to smoke?” “Working for a lousy boss”, “Does international law permit the searching of a diplomat?” “Can A Christian divorce and remarry?” “Falling in Love with Africa”, “Growing up and moving out of your parent’s home.”
Are You a Patriotic Zambian?
Part B contains many unedited extracts from the media which covers 93 pages of the book. One media story that attracted my interest was “Chileka Man Conceals Ex-Wife’s Private Parts Again” of August 27, 2009.
In Malawi a man used magical powers to conceal his ex-wife’s private parts such that when she wanted to physically consume their love with her new lover, her private parts disappeared to both lovers’ frustration. Of course the Malawian courts got involved. Another article I found interesting was: “Did Kaunda Lead Zambia illegally?”
Part C of the book from Chapter 88 starting at page 915 contains: “Public intellectualism and philosophical inquiry through metaphors and muses”. This segment of the book has well over forty of these metaphors and muses. But Kenneth Mwenda’s Anthology in Law and the Social Sciences had one article that made me shed tears and made me proud of my patriotism as a Zambian was the piece: “A nation that stood tall above others and gave its best to the liberation of Southern Africa from colonial rule and apartheid”. Among us educated Africans being educated and “objective” often means always mercilessly contemptuously tearing apart your own country’s heritage and leaders. This piece spoke volumes about being very proud and positive about our own country both the past and present.