Attempting to douse the flames of controversy ignited by pictures of her wearing nothing but body paint doing the rounds on the internet, Iris says she was merely appreciating Zambia’s cultural diversity, adding that there is need to address gender stereotypes in the country.
The daughter of the former Minister of Higher Education Michael Kaingu believes there wouldn’t be this much hullabaloo about her nude body paint pictures if a video of her and her then boyfriend having sex while in college five years ago hadn’t leaked.
“I really want people to move on from the sex tape. I would like to just highlight that because my family is so affected by most of the negative comments. It was not a nice thing, I apologised and I went to prison for it, I also paid a fine and I think that many people make mistakes, so I would just like people and the nation at large to move on from that scandal and focus more on what my future is, to secure my future,” Iris told a media briefing on Friday.
“Let’s work together. As a person, I have a foundation which I want to build for prisoners. I want to build a country where prisoners are recognised and where their welfare is paid attention to, I have a lot of positive things surrounding me but most of you want to just focus on my negative publicity which is not good. I would like to urge the media to practice responsible journalism because I am just a young woman only 26 years old, so please please let’s just work together and make this country better.
“There are many issues I realised that we need to tackle as a country. One of which is gender stereotypes and I realised as a woman that most times women are usually misunderstood and ridiculed because of what of they wear. So to set the tone, I want to say that from reading the comments, which I rarely do, posted on the pictures which went viral the past three days, I would like to say publicly that most people are focused on my past which was five years ago since the sex tape happened. I would like to urge people on social media especially because there is cyber bullying in this country which I personally feel does not affect me negatively, but then there are many other people that I see going through the same thing and it affects them negatively.”
The controversial socialite explained that the pictures of her in animal skin paintings done by top artist Caleb Chisha were intended for a project she was working on but that it was leaked before time.
“On the issue of the elephant in the room, I was just depicting in 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 and so today I want to depict this because I feel passionate about our culture and I feel that we are slowly losing the depth of ourselves. So one point of the picture was to appreciate culture and the second thing 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.
“And that picture is actually intended for a project that I am working on. It’s unfortunate that it was leaked before it’s time. I know most of you say Iris you like to be naked, no. I can’t come to this function in a bikini or naked because that’s unacceptable but when I am at the beach or at the pool I have to be in my bikinis because there you can’t be fully dressed up. So I would like us to see the bigger picture and I want to urge women out there that we need to partner with each other, we are not enemies and if we work together we can make a better Zambia,” she said.
Iris, who sees a future for herself in politics, claimed the negative comments about her nude pictures do not affect her, but called for an end to cyber bullying.
“I want to urge the public out there that it’s not very nice the things that most people say about someone. We are all just human beings and we all have feelings, so in as much I don’t come and say that I don’t like what people say about me, I think that I want to champion cyber bullying. It needs to stop, you hide behind your computers and you say what you have to say but if I had to meet most people that say negative things about me in person, they wouldn’t say it, they just hide behind Facebook. So I would like to tell people who like to cyber bully that they need to stop, it’s not a very nice thing to do and I think that if you were in the same situation as another person, you wouldn’t like that to happen.”
Iris said she understood that the media could make or break her.
“I called this meeting because I know that the media can either build you or destroy you and as you sit here, I am aware that you have the intention to bring a good story. Now, you are going to be writers or tellers of my story and I think that you are going to determine how we move forward as a country; you are going to determine me as a person. You as media are going to drive the motion and everything that is said about me will be determined by yourselves and I would like to urge you that you are the builders of myself, I could never be anything without you people, you have made me where I am today so don’t twist stories.”