Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Interesting read for #MyDressMyChoice #NudityIsNotMyChoice folk….


By Mohadesa Najumi

When I think about what modesty means in today’s political, cultural and religious environment, I am inclined to believe that the concept itself does not involve choice, or any dimension of freedom or independent thought.  Rather, modesty constitutes a dictatorial concept forced upon women whether they agree with it or not.  For me, modesty is patriarchy.

When I speak about modesty in this context, I speaking specifically about it in relation to clothing, mannerisms and behaviour. Throughout history, women have been judged on how “modest” they are or not.  And this has determined how much of a “lady” they presumably are or not. In a patriarchal society, to be modest is to dress and speak ”appropriately,” and to maintain a “ladylike” image. If you fail to do this, you are not only not modest, but God forbid you choose to wear a low-cut top, then you are simply a whore!

In this way, modesty, to me, means subservience. It means acquiesce. How you dress suddenly becomes someone else’s business, and how “ladylike” you are is determined by a standard you never gave your consent to in the first place. Let’s face it, men are not subject to these kinds of standards.  I mean, have you ever heard someone describe a man as “immodest”?  The dictate and quest for modesty is reserved almost exclusively for women.  And if modesty is simply about avoidance of dressing in a “revealing” manner, why is it predominantly directed at women? Why is a woman’s dress choice suddenly everybody’s business, and why is a woman’s choice to reveal what is her’s, considered “indecent” and “immoral”?

Also, how about this idea that the level of “respect” you should receive is inextricably linked with how “modest” you are. Shouldn’t “respect” be linked with intellect, intelligence, ability to hold an intriguing conversation?  What does respect have to do with the tightness of your dress or the shortness of your skirt?  Too often, we measure respect for women on the basis of how well they fit our standard of “modesty” and “decency.”  This is oppressive.  How about this?  A woman doesn’t leave her house everyday desperate to receive your stamp of approval and rating of modesty? Maybe it’s just her choice to wear what she wants and act the way she desires. It’s a ludicrous idea I know, but just consider it for a moment.

I’ve heard countless men and women use words like “impure” and “unclean” as synonyms for “immodesty.”  Modesty is a way to oppress women and to pressure them into giving into a system of patriarchy that dictates what they wear, how much skin they reveal, and how “sexual” they are.

As a way to attack, marginalize, and oppress women, it is effective. There is nothing innocent about throwing around the term modesty and there are no excuses for the ignorance about what it really implies. I for one have no interest in being “modest.”  Why?  Because who I am and whether or not I deserve respect, should have nothing to do with how I dress, how I express myself, or my gender.  And nobody should be able to dictate this for me–or you.  I refuse to vilify women who do not fit into an illusionary, irrelevant, inaccurate and un-useful standard of “modesty.”  It is a concept that truly disgusts me, and not merely because of its essential meaning, but because of the importance we have given to it.

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On March 16, she lost her husband. Then she lost everything. The deceased family shaved her off her husband’s house and 2-acre piece of land. The recent spates of events that followed 23-year old Lucy Nyambura after the mysterious death of 30-year old Gabriel Ng’ang’a arouses the debate of property inheritance. (Read full story)

The story of Nyamabura’s predicament, published by The Standard Media 25 March 2014 is not a uniquely Kenyan case. Women’s right to inherit land and other property is brutally limited in many parts of Africa. At a man’s death, his property is either inherited by his adult sons or reclaimed by his family.

Discriminatory customary laws and cultural attitudes and practices are used to justify the disinheritance of widows and beseeched to outweigh constitutional provisions to inherit.

Inheritance in Kenya is guided by the Law of Succession Act Cap 160 of the Laws of Kenya.

Under this Act, a person may either die testate or intestate. “A person dies testate when he has made a valid will on how his property should be distributed on his death. A person dies intestate when he has not made a will on how his property will be distributed on his death or his will has been invalidated,” explains John Chigiti, Senior partner in the firm of Chigiti & Chigiti Advocates.

In the case of intestacy (when no will is stated), the Law of Succession Act sets out how the deceased´s property should devolve. A surviving spouse is entitled to the personal and household effects of the deceased, and a life interest in the whole residue of the net intestate estate; however, if the surviving spouse is a widow, and she re-marries, then her life interest is terminated. The surviving spouse has power to give all or any part of the capital of the net intestate estate to any surviving children of the deceased.

Realizing Women’s Right to Land, a new publication by UNWOMEN warns that denial of inheritance rights to women is detrimental in the long run. Denial of inheritance rights to women results descent of millions of women and their families into extreme poverty and is a major cause and consequence of violence against women in Africa.

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Posted: September 15, 2009 in Cartoons, Culture


I usually tell my colleagues that I’m fed up with tagging over our opinions on gender, tribal politics and religion; because these arguments are always ill-fated. And my colleagues being too bunged with their opinions may not see why it is futile for me to engage in so. When FIDA announced its satirical mode of challenging the status quo in the name of ‘sex-boycott’ I knew that this would come up over our usual lunch hour chit chats. Well, just to make things easier and my lunch time worth-while we dismissed the notion in all sorts of yarns and invectives. And that was the order of the day on TV, radio talk shows, bar-talks, I’m sure a few lectures mentioned it to kick- off their classes with a light touch. Deep down I was careful not to mention to the ‘clever’ critics that FIDA cleverly won Kenya’s agenda.

Maendeleo Ya Wanaume (MYW) was next the thing trying to get Kenyan’s something to blurb about ‘the battered male statistics’. Shockingly, 1.5 million men in Kenya are said to be silently suffering domestic violence meted out by their wives.

Accepted by many women who rendered today’s Kenyan man as ineffectual and men who deemed it a way of undressing their egos, the topic won the hearts of the masses. I am still not sure what to make of the statistics but FIDA had its stand that it was an exaggeration of some sort.

With the realization that both genders are crying foul, I can’t help but conclude that Kenya is at a war of sexes. This warfare is becoming fruitless with time. If for sure this is an issue, then we need understand that there is a problem with the institution of marriage. Whichever the spouse who hits out the lash, at the end of it, I cannot ignore the plight of children who have had to witness this war newly  sponsored by FIDA and MYW.

Instead of this why can’t we have a situation where FIDA and MYW acknowledging the problem instead of its outcomes alone? Without rubbishing FIDA

and MYW efforts in voicing the voiceless; I hope that a day will come when the two forums can address this issue regardless to their gender respect.

domestic violence

African Tsunami, they call it

Posted: September 21, 2007 in Culture


This is a Ranan Lurie Award Award winning Editorial cartoon with the theme African Tsunami. The cartoonist’s name is Alberto Sabat, the carton was published in a daily in Argentina. These international awards are supported by the United Nations.

Now, as an African what do you make of this?