What do Borana women in Mathare think about elections and mainstream political processes? What spaces do they use to intervene in both constituency-based and national politics, if at all? How do their situated and connected experiences of poverty, patriarchy and ethnicity impact their political practices?
Actual transformation of gender relations is painfully slow. Women in Kenya continue to suffer the brunt of poverty, illiteracy and exclusion from decision making. And men’s voices are largely missing from the equality dialogue. There seems to be political reluctance and resistance to reforming the system of governance in order to increase representation of women in public life.
When you write about Africa, make sure to always include sad and starving characters, advises Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainana in his famously ironic essay “How to write about Africa”, which takes aim at Western prejudices. In the same way that everyday laughter has been excluded from all-too-familiar depictions of the continent, African humour and satire as a form of social and political engagement remains underexplored.
Over the last five decades, successive African governments have promised their citizens dignity, equality, human rights and a better life. However, progress to achieve these ideals remains hampered in various respects, of which gender inequality is undoubtedly one of the most severe.
As the 21st Century approached, there were various multi-faceted efforts geared towards a critical review of development in Africa. In the spirit of Africa taking ownership and responsibility for her development, there was ambition and optimism expressed in the common question “can Africa claim the 21st Century?”