Men have failed, it's time for women to step up

Friday May 22 2009

By GITAU GIKONYO

THEY SAY THAT WOMEN AND elephants do not forget an injury. But the women of Kenya have forgotten this nation and watched as we men mess it up.

I consider it a truth, though often ignored that men – old or young – have failed this country. Men have consistently demonstrated their inefficiency in handling the affairs of this country.

Failure, however, does not mean the end of it. Solutions are always there and our solution now is to try what we have not yet tried in this journey. I am proposing that all men take a step back and let our mothers, sisters and daughters give it a try.

Of course every man “worth his salt” will oppose it, but it is worth trying. In the first place, I must admit that I never took anatomy and physiology in school but I have always had an interest in understanding the body and its workings.

I have read Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis and I know Kenyan men prefer his line of thought. He was born Sigismund Schlomo Freud in the town of Freiberg in the now Czech Republic on May 6, 1856.

Freud was a man of his times. He was opposed to the women’s emancipation movement and believed that women’s lives were dominated by their sexual reproductive functions.

Here is a guy who kept screaming that “anatomy is destiny” and is quoted saying thus: “The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer despite my 30 years of research into the feminine soul, is ‘What does a woman want?’”

The problem with our country is that it is dominated by men who reason like Freud. Many years we have heard of affirmative action, yet nothing comes out of it.

Since independence, men have continuously used their might and testosterone to keep women out of mainstream politics. The result has been the political and moral decadence that has engulfed our nation.

Consider all the bad decisions that have been made since independence. Who has made them? How many women were mentioned or involved in the political assassinations that we have witnessed in this country?

But we still hold women as incompetent, as those who “oppose change, receive passively, and add nothing of their own”.

If you look at the current crop of political leaders, the picture is pathetic. Consider people like the new Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Mutula Kilonzo. This servant of the people is former minister for Nairobi Metropolitan where all he did was dream, speak aloud, and dream more until he became a loud sounding nothing.

HE DREAMT OF SKYSCRAPER ROOFS with helipads. He dreamt of a superhighway for the President and Prime Minister’s comfort.

Then he dreamt of transforming the Nairobi River, promising to take a swim within one year. Well that was May 2008, and before anyone takes him serious on this other promise to deliver a draft constitution in 11 months, let him dive in the river. We have not forgotten that before him was one Kiraitu Mirungi who promised us a constitution in 100 days.

What I always ask myself is, when our nation almost burnt down early last year, who suffered more than women and children?

Yet they were not active participants in the mayhem, the burning and killing of Kenyans. We would see women of diverse ethnic communities, hurdled together in makeshift camps trying to feed their children.

Our government must henceforth be headed by those with a voice of reason, those who know the pain of bringing forth life or losing it, those who are kind enough to be hesitant in undertaking some actions. We must let women do it.

But men will defensively dismiss a strong woman as a whore or personification of evil. Look at how they vilified Mary Magdalene, the first witness of resurrection, the one woman on whom the entire belief in Christendom is based.

Even my kinsmen will quickly tell you about Wangu wa Makeri, a woman born in the second half of the nineteenth century into traditional Gikuyu society.

Wangu underwent usual customary rites and married like any other woman and was appointed a “headman” in 1901. But you ask about her character and her kind of leadership. Men have ensured that she comes out as personification of evil.

But women have been good leaders in history worldwide. Some have done good work in science and others have led battles and fought wars. Margaret Thatcher for example is the most powerful woman of all times. Others include Joan of Arc who led French troops to fight the English at Orleans during the Hundred Years’ War.

There is also Boudicca who gave the Romans a massive war in England and came within a whisker of defeating the Romans.

In politics, we have Hillary Clinton, Condoleeza Rice and Madeleine Albright, all important political leaders in the USA.

India had Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who was killed by two men assassin extremists acting in retaliation for the storming of the Sikh holy shrine.

Today, most of our young men have become useless sorry figures of men, all in a daze, hooked on substances. While a woman will easily handle depression, our depressed brothers will go down letting it out on abusing substances and women.

The heart of the matter is men are cry babies. I am yet to come across a circumcised man who can agree to undergo the ritual a second time. Yet he will send a woman to the delivery room many times.

The writing is on the wall. Men have failed, and women must now step up and take the lead.