Sunday, March 3, 2013

Why the obsession with the necktie?


Today, as I sat with some of my work colleagues for a meeting, the discussion shifted from website functionality to the ubiquitous necktie.

Yes, that piece of cloth that you put on every morning around your neck as you prepare to counter the unforgiving world. I have always thought of the tie as a symbol of capitalism.

A tie is useful in places where temperatures drop to freezing point as it a protective clothing. Makes sense. But what sense does it make to wear a tie in temperate conditions of Kenya, Tanzania or in the humidity of Kampala?

In school, we are told that a tie projects the image of serious businesslike persona. Throw in the assumption that one is also deemed to be well groomed and therein lies the most absurd explanation I can imagine for the use of the tie.

So what is the idea behind a tie? Ties have existed for a long time, but became fashionable, in an office environment, after the early IBM salesmen started wearing ties as they called their clients.

Wearing a tie is like having a noose around your neck, getting tight ever so slightly and a sign that you accept authority and surrender your free will.  As we get sucked into the vortex of consumerism, the noose symbolizes our serfdom, which in today’s terms is an epic struggle to amass objects of desire at any cost.
And the noose serves as much a purpose as the ludicrous white wigs, that our judges wear. The judges get allowances to maintain those wigs in pearl white condition, money which can be channeled to pay scholarships for 100 needy children.

I imagine that in a lifetime, a man may end up buying at least 50 ties. If every Tanzanian decided to stop wearing the tie and contribute 20 per cent of the amount spent on buying ties to a cause like child education, we would be doing a great favor to society.

Another thing. What is it with hanging the President’s portrait in just about every shop, government building and company?

I don’t have figures to back this up, but I am sure that businesses could save a ton every year if they did not have to follow this "rule". Thank God we don’t have presidents who like Dennis Rodman change their hair colour every two weeks. We’d run out of picture frames!.

If Africa is to take its rightful place in the world order, it needs to shun such practices, which are subtle symbols of imperialism. We have our culture that we have practiced for ages, which is in danger of getting lost today due to the blind acceptance of customs imposed on us.


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