What you need to know:
- History is replete with examples of women leaders who rose from nothingness to shine lights to societies hitherto on the verge of collapse.
- Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa’s first woman president, is the embodiment of women’s struggle to bring forth peace and tranquillity in Liberia.
- Prof Maathai is a testimony of how a strong, bold and determined woman can change the course of history.
Only a few Kenyans would imagine a woman occupying the top political office and enjoying power, prestige and control of our society. Although we rarely acknowledge this, ours is a society that generally looks down upon femininity.
This deep-seated psychological deficiency has birthed a society which lionises men as scions in domestic and public spaces, most likely why millions of us are “crying in the toilet”.
History is replete with examples of women leaders who rose from nothingness to shine lights to societies hitherto on the verge of collapse. Many of them relied on their innate, motherly instincts to rescue millions from the belly of beasts and the hellholes male leaders had ditched them.
Guided by traits Nature so generously gave the mind, soul and spirit of a woman, they pulled through jeremiads their countries faced to bequeath honour and dignity to them.
In Austria, in 1740 and 1748, Maria Theresa, with little, if any, coaching on how to govern, faced wars of succession following the death of Charles VI. Then, France and Spain made sustained claims to parts of Austria, which was not only penniless but also poorly governed before Maria took office.
With deft advisers, she turned around the economy, revitalised the military and instituted mandatory public education for all boys and girls. She held on to her rule firmly amidst two wars and still managed to give birth and nurture 16 children of her own.
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa’s first woman president, is the embodiment of women’s struggle to bring forth peace and tranquillity in Liberia. Following two civil wars — in 1989-1997, in which 200,000 people were killed, and 1999-2003, she achieved reconciliation and recovery to international acclaim.
Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai fought for voiceless trees, forests and rivers. Through the University of Nairobi alumnus’s activism as the Greenbelt Movement founder and human rights defender, she inspired ordinary folks and world leaders to plant millions of trees and live-and-let others live.
Prof Maathai is a testimony of how a strong, bold and determined woman can change the course of history.
Since Independence, we have entrusted the country to a cabal of men who have given us little else apart from grief. Sadly, we are at a critical stage when the business-as-usual approach to politics, governance and elections is no longer tenable. We are living the Austria of the 1740s.
We might not be at war but wars are the eventual reality in societies where millions, and especially the youth, are consistently robbed of hope and are deeply fatigued by the greed and short-sightedness of the political class.
Kenya is like a sickly child who now needs a mother with the ability to look beyond our predicament and birth hope, health and vitality once again. We must shun age-old stereotypes; the anti-women nonsense flawlessly mouthed by many and which has pinned more than half of our population down.
We must think the unthinkable and allow ourselves to consider how we stand to gain by embracing the power, strength and resilience of a woman sitting in the highest political office on the land.
Mr Mbaria, a freelance journalist, is co-author of ‘The Big Conservation Lie’. [email protected]