Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Mazrui's Take on African Intellectuals and Their Role in Development

This month Professor Ali Mazrui returned to Makerere to be honoured in perpertuity by the establishment of an East African Centre for Global Studies and an endowment and scholarship fund. I was glad to be part of it as this man is one intellectual that I love and admire...courtesy of watching, starry eyed, his now world-famous TV series "The Africans: A Triple Heritage" as a young boy back in the day. It was exhilirating to meet him in person and interact with him at close quarters. This was when he came to Makerere in August 2006 to deliver a public lecture in honour of 40th anniversary of the Bank of Uganda. I was involved in the organisation of the event as a PR Office at the University and transcribed the lecture, which I have posted below.

It is very pertinent and would like to share it with the world. Take time and read it to the end.....it is worth every bit. This blog honours this great intellectual in this way...


This is a very moving experience for me, I lectured many times in the Main Hall.

Salute to Makerere, thanks to Bank of Uganda and Makerere, the 40th anniversary of the Bank of Uganda is also the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the Museveni era in Uganda’s political history.

Also permit me to proceed with a little further vanity. It is true that this is the 40th anniversary of the Bank of Uganda is the main reason that has brought me here to participate in celebrating but from a personal point of view, it also happens to be the year of the 40th anniversary of my being appointed dean of faculty of Social Sciences at Makerere University. This university did me an honour, which has not been repeated anywhere else; they appointed me lecturer in 1963, made me full Professor two years later, in 1965, and made me Dean in 1966. No other institution has honoured me on that scale; and for that, I shall always be grateful

The theme involves concepts like intellectuals and academics. Let me begin with the definition of an intellectual, which some of you are familiar with, which I first articulated in a debate with Akena Adoko in the Town Hall of Kampala in the 1960s. The debate was on the role of the African intellectual in the African revolution.

Then there is the typology of intellectuals, which will be followed by the definition of an academic and the typology of academics.

An intellectual is a person who has the capacity to be fascinated by ideas and has acquired the skills to handle some or these ideas effectively.

A general intellectual enjoys series newspapers, appreciates philosophies and ideologies, and knows about poetry and other forms of literature. The late Abu Mayanja was a general intellectual in this sense.

A public intellectual is in effective communication with disciplines other than one’s own, he or she is an interdisciplinary intellectual. Mahmood Mamdani, formerly of Makerere, is such a public intellectual.

A political intellectual specialises on ideas of governance and policy options—overlaps with policy-focused academics.

An academic intellectual, the majority of academics are intellectuals but only a minority of intellectuals are professional academics. Such an intellectual is fascinated by ideas and engaged in higher research or higher education.

Steeped in the written word, the classic literacy intellectual is fascinated by creative literature—novels, poetry, plays, but others are fascinated with other types of book—biographies, history books, and travel books.

Minimum literacy intellectuals are obsessed with magazines, journals and intellectual press. Okot P’Bitek was a literacy intellectual of the higher kind.

An academic is a person who is professionally engaged in advanced research and/or advanced teaching and tries to be guided by universal scholarly standards.

Activist academics seek to influence societal change, for example, women’s rights, environmental movements, human rights, civil liberties. Wangari Mathaai, East Africa’s first Nobel Laureate is one.

Conventional academics work on their research and teaching—journals, books, and classroom sessions.

Policy-focused academics seek to influence government or to enter government at least for a while. Prime Minister Apollo Nsibambi falls into that category.

Laboratory academic is more lab-focused (laboratory) than lib-focused (library), experimentalist and fascinated by puzzles of the natural sciences.

Calculus academic is fascinated by mathematical puzzles; numeracy rather than literacy.

Academics and intellectuals as major agents of political change, but relatively minor agents of economic change in post-colonial Africa.

Phase 1: The Phase of Decolonisation

This was the golden age of African nationalism of the post-colonial variety. African academics with wider pool of African intellectuals helped to mobilise the masses against the colonial order. The African liberation was much faster than most people expected.

Kenya became a British colony after Jomo Kenyatta was born. The colonial era was so brief that Kenyatta lived right through it and came to rule Kenya himself for 15 year after the British had left.

Uganda’s earliest manifestations of anti-colonial nationalism took the form of defending Uganda from white settler-dominated Kenya. Many Ugandans recoiled from Britain’s desire to unite Kenya, Tanganyika and Uganda into a greater union (a kind of pre-independence East African Federation).

When Kabaka Mutesa II articulated fierce opposition to East African union, he was in part resisting the encroachment of white settler power from Kenya into Uganda. The Kabaka was sent into exile in Britain by the Governor of Uganda. Many of the Kabaka’s male subjects vowed not to shave their beards until the British returned their king. When the Kabaka returned to Uganda, later in the 1950s, many of his subjects shaved their beards at Entebbe Airport in celebration. Some of those beards were stuffed into pillows as souvenirs. The momentum of Buganda’s defiance extended to other parts of Uganda; within a very few years, Uganda was independent in 1962.

Makerere’s contribution to the anti-colonial struggle included the early graduates who sometimes defied the British for ethno-cultural reasons, and sometimes for genuine pan-Ugandan patriotic reasons. Among the pan-Ugandan nationalists, was Apollo Obote, who adopted the additional name of ‘Milton’ out of admiration of John Milton, the author of Paradise Lost. Obote was inspired by Satan’s immortal line in Milton’s poem, “Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven”.

Another immortal East African product of Makerere was Julius .K Nyerere who, in the struggle against colonialism, created the Tanganyika African National Union on Saba saba—the seventh day of the seventh month in the 1950s.

Although Tanganyika was the least developed of the three British East African colonies, Tanganyika was the first to win independence in 1961. Although Kenya was the most infrastructurally developed of the three colonies, it was the last to win independence in December 1963. Uganda was caught in-between—winning its independence in 1962. But the difference in scheduling was minor. The real achievement in all the three East African colonies was the spectacular speed of political decolonisation.

Phase II: The Phase of Nation Building

While Phase I of East Africa’s basic decolonisation was impressively triumphant, the second phase of the nation building was truly in fits and starts. Because African intellectuals and academics could not come to grips with viable strategies of economic development, nation building was extremely difficult to sustain in the post-colonial era.

Intellectuals and academics thought they could be effective agents of economic change by the ideology they adopted in the 1960s and 1970s. Socialism and even Marxism were popular on many campuses in Africa.

Marxism had three roles—as ideology of development, as an ethic of distribution and as a methodology of analysis. Marxism became the option of the post-colonial intelligentsia addiction to Marxism and socialism was at its height on the campuses of the University of Dar-es-salaam and Haile Selassie University in Addis Ababa. University of Nairobi was next in leftist orientation with prominent figures like Ngugi wa Thiong’o as the vanguard.

The Makerere campus was the least intoxicated by Socialism and Marxism—resisting the opinion of the rest of the African intelligentsia. In Kenya, the political intellectuals like Tom Mboya and Mwai Kibaki were at variance with the academic intellectuals like Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Michere Mugo. The campus intellectuals were to the left or the political intelligentsia.

Uganda under Obote I also witnessed an ideology divergence between the political intellectuals, who were pushing for Obote’s move to the left, and the campus intellectuals, who were sceptical of leftist rhetoric, such as Mat Kiwanuka in history, Apollo Nsibambi in political science and George Kanyeihamba in law.

Apart from a minority of political scientists on campus like Yash Tandon, Ahmed Muhuddin and the young Okello Oculi, academic intellectuals in Uganda were to the right of the political intellectuals under Obote I while in Kenya, campus intellectuals were to the left of political intellectuals under Kenyatta and early Moi.

At the University of Dar-es-Salaam, radical leftist academics were disproportionately non-Tanzanians such as Walter Rodney of Guyana, Mahmood Mamdani of Uganda, John Saul of Canada, and Lionel Cliffe of the United Kingdom, Ussa Shivji was the only prominent Tanzanian who was also truly leftist—the author of The Silent Class Struggle in Tanzania. In Nyerere’s Tanzania, both the campus intellectuals and the political intellectuals were leftists but the academicians were more leftist than Julius .K Nyerere.

Marxism as a methodology of analysis dominated the legacy of Dar-es-salaam, but Marxism as an ideology of development failed to deliver worldwide.

As for Marxism as an ethic of distribution, it has continued to be attractive to all those who were appalled by the injustices of economic inequality and gross inequalities between the haves and have-nots in post-colonial Africa.

As for African elites who chose to pursue the capitalist path of development, many African economic strategies were similarly out of focus in their capitalism. They stimulated urbanisation without industrialisation, they sponsored capitalist greed without capitalist discipline, they activated Western consumption patterns without Western productivity technologies, they whetted Western tastes without cultivating Western skills.

Idi Amin’s expulsion of Uganda Asians was a particularly bizarre route towards Africanised capitalism. Idi Amin sought to replace Asian dukawallas with African ‘duka-warriors.’ Once again the result was capitalist greed without capitalist discipline; Western-style consumption patterns without Western style production technologies.

On the major East African leaders, Yoweri Museveni is the only one who has traversed the whole ideological spectrum from a profound distrust of capitalism to a restored faith in market forces.

I still remember a dinner exchange I had with him at the Entebbe State House:

Museveni: “So Professor, I hear rumours that you have moved to the left in the recent years”.

Mazrui: “Mr. President, I have also heard rumours. I have heard that you have moved to the right”.

Museveni insisted that his new faith in market forces was not a quest for profit but a quest for technology and development. Museveni and Nkrumah had something in common. Nkrumah out of office was way to the left of Nkrumah in office. Similarly, Museveni prior to supreme office was way to the left of Museveni in office.

Nkrumah was neo-Marxist both before he became Head of Government (and Head of State)—and after he lost power, Nkrumah returned to his leftist roots in his post-presidential years. In the case of Museveni, we know he was leftist before he had supreme power, and we know he became more pragmatic as Head of State. We do not know yet if Museveni would return to his leftist roots when he becomes an ordinary citizen again.

Museveni’s in-power pragmatism has paid off in the capital city of Kampala. Kampala was decaying and full of hazards when Museveni came to power in 1986. Today, Kampala has a look of dynamic metropolis—building higher and higher, as well as further and further. Far less successful is the fate of Jinja, which was once the country’s industrial capital. If I was advising President Museveni on urban policy, I would urge a strategy of two cities, a kind of tale of two cities—like Sidney and Melbourne in Australia.

If Kampala is Uganda’s Sidney in terms of development, let Jinja grow into Uganda’s Melbourne. In Australia, the capital is the small city of Canberra. So Kampala is a combination of Sidney and Canberra. But Uganda’s urban policy should still be based on a strategy of two cities—one of which should be astride the source of the Nile.

Of course, present moves towards peace in Northern Uganda are a more urgent priority although the war of the Lord’s Resistance Army is not the longest war in post-colonial East Africa; the Ugandan war with the Lord’s Resistance Army may be the most brutal.

The separatist war of Eritrea against imperial and revolutionary Ethiopia was a 30-year war (1962-1992) but it was not as savage as the 20-year war in Northern Uganda.

The second civil war in Southern Sudan was more than 40 years long—from 1963 to 2004, but it was not a war, which chopped off limbs and lips or brutally violated women and children as the war in Northern Uganda has done for a couple of decades.

At a long last, Ugandans are to be congratulated if they are now taking the Northern war truly seriously and both sides are at last eager to end it.

If there are intellectuals in both the Government side and in the Lord’s Resistance Army, here is another opportunity to demonstrate that such intellectuals can indeed be major agents of political change even if they remain minor agents in economic change.

If the first phase of East Africa’s modern history was decolonisation, and the second phase was the challenges of nation building, this third phase is the phase of globalisation.

I will address globalisation more frontally in my presentation for the Uganda Bank on Thursday. Today let me place Makerere within the origins of globalisation in East Africa.

What role has Makerere played in the process of the villagisation of the world? Let us take this speed look combining the global with the local—the globalisation of Uganda and East Africa.

Globalisation is a new word but it represents a long-drawn out historical process. Globalisation consists of the forces, which are pushing the world towards becoming a global village.

Most recently, those forces have been at their most dramatic in the Information Super highway (Internet and the death of distance) and in the spectacular interdependence of the world economy. When south-east Asian economics take a downturn, Boeing (the US plane manufacturer) feels the pain. Sales of planes are dramatically down. When peace returns to the Middle East, oil prices tumble down.

But what paved the way for the Information Superhighway and the computer revolution in the world economy? Higher education and the escalating sophistication of research are part of the story. Higher education has been a major force in the villagisation of the globe—turning the world into a global village. Where does Makerere fit in this equation?

At the global level, Makerere’s role has to be examined in symbolic terms. As the oldest university college in the region, Makerere was the vanguard of globalisation in East Africa’s experience. If higher education has been central to the momentous process of turning the world into an independent global village, Makerere has been more than part and parcel of that process. In eastern Africa, it has been a historic vanguard.

Let us note a few brief factors in the flow of history:

• Makerere was part of a British global university—like Legon in Ghana, Mona in Jamaica, Ibadan in Nigeria. They were all parts of the University of London.

• Makerere evolved from Euro-African University College (linked to London) to Pan-East African University College (linked to the University of East Africa). I still remember when the Department of Political Science at Makerere struggles with the University of London over whether to include Karl Marx in a course on political philosophy.

• Makerere experienced globalisation in reverse. There was a time when it was too global and not African enough. Makerere was a) teaching French, b) teaching German c) teaching Russian before teaching African languages for a degree.

In retrospect, the Makerere experience posed the question: How much globalisation is Westernisation? Western education produced who changes his name from Apollo Obote to Milton Obote out of admiration for the author of Paradise Lost. Was that globalisation or Westernisation? Makerere and Western education produced Julius K. Nyerere who translated two of Shakespeare’s plays into Kiswahili. Was that globalisation or Westernisation?

Makerere had unofficial links with Transition magazine, which was founded by the late Rajat Neogy who was not himself at Makerere. Transition magazine became the most scintillating and intellectually effervescent magazine in Anglophone Africa in the 1960s. Future Nobel laureates wrote for it—like Wole Soyinka (who later edited it) and Nadine Gordimer. Future world-class novelists wrote for it like Paul Thoroux, Chinua Achebe and Ngugi wa Thiong'o. Kwame Nkrumah and Tom Mboya responded to articles in Transition.

The Uganda phase of Transition ended after Obote’s government (first administration) imprisoned editor Rajat Neogy. When he was released, he re-started Transition in Ghana, and subsequently handed it over to Wole Soyinka. The Ghana phase of Transition ended when Soyinka tried to change the magazine’s name to Cindaba.

Now there is a United States’ phase of the same magazine, with Soyinka as Chair of the Editorial Board, and Henry Louis Gates and Kwame Anthony Appiah as editors. Now, the magazine is based at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Linkages from Makerere to Harvard.

Makerere also witnessed as astonishing an array of visitors from all walks of life and most parts of the world. I remember my personally inviting the distinguished Irishman, Connor Cruise O’Brien who had served with the United Nations in Katanga, the Congo. In his speech at Makerere, he described Moise Tshombe, the secessionist leader of Katanga, as “the best politician that money can buy”. Since then we have known many other African politicians who have also been up for sale!

I remember the Hollywood film star, Sidney Poitier, expressing surprise that there were so many male homosexuals in Uganda. When I asked him what gave him that idea, he referred to so many men in the streets holding hands. I laughed. I told him, “In this culture, holding hands is a sign of friendliness and goodwill. It is not a sign of sex. This is a culture of innocent touch”.

I remember listening to a sermon in the Main Hall by Father Trevor Huddleston. It was one of his most moving sermons in any religion that I have ever heard. There was a simple refrain to which Father Huddleston kept on returning: “Near the hill where he was crucified, there was a garden!”. It was a simple refrain but the juxtaposition of the horror of the crucifixion and the beauty of the garden was so deeply moving.

I remember welcoming Thurgood Marshall. By his role in the US Supreme Court case of Brown versus the Board of Education in 1954, this man had had a bigger impact on 20th century American history than most Presidents manage to have. He was a great luminary even among the star-studded visitors to Makerere.

I first met Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia at Makerere in the 1960s. He was in the company of Kabaka Mutesa II of Buganda. These were two kings whose sudden deaths later in history were to be steeped in mystery.

In my sitting room in Binghamton is a photograph of the African continent taken from outer space. It was presented to me by an American astronaut whose visit to Makerere to talk about outer space was initiated by me through negotiations with the US Embassy in Kampala.

The Archbishop of Canterbury also visited us, and addressed an audience in the Main Hall. Students wanted to know how he and Queen Elizabeth II could both be “the Head of the Church of England.” The Archbishop eventually adroitly sidestepped the debate by reaffirming that the Head of the Church was God!

Scientists and medical experts from other parts of the world also visited Makerere. The Medical School at Makerere had made such important advances in research in tropical diseases that it was on the verge of being nominated for the Nobel Prize in Medicine. Had Idi Amin’s coup been delayed by another three years our medical school might have made it.

Distinguished alumni of Makerere have become presidents of their countries:

• Julius K. Nyerere of Tanzania
• Apollo Milton Obote of Uganda
• Yusuf Lule of Uganda
• Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania
• Mwai Kibaki of Kenya

Many have become distinguished Vice-Presidents, ministers, scholars, scientists, diplomats, parliamentarians, administrators, entrepreneurs, Central Bank governors, politicians and statesmen and stateswomen.

But perhaps among those who have symbolized globalisation the most is Ugandan whose relationship with Makerere became an interrupted symphony. That Ugandan nearly became the Secretary General of the UN instead of Boutros-Boutros Ghali. He subsequently became a distinguished President of the International Peace Academy, and is now working for the UN to help protect children from the ravages of war. The Ugandan is Olara Otunnu.

Salim Ahmed Salim—later Secretary General of the Organisation of African Unity—was also considered for Secretary General of the UN. Salim was vetoed by the USA while Otunnu was probably vetoed by the Ugandan government.

A Tanzanian alumnus of Makerere who even more symbolized aspects of globalisation was Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere himself—who became a major figure not just in Pan-African politics but also in the global arena of North-South relations. He often did bestride that narrow world like a Colossus—and also qualified as a Shakespearean scholar in a certain sense.

Finally a word about a mysterious Kenyan who was honoured by Makerere with the fastest professorial promotion (from lecturer to full professor) of Makerere’s history. In the 1980s, the Kenyan went global with a television series, which has been shown in dozens of countries and translated into several languages. In the 1990s, the Kenyan holds five professorships in three different continents—none of the professorships in Kenya. [Now] who knows what other globalising antics the Kenyan has in store for us? Is he waiting for the birth of an East African Federation before he returns? The Kenyan shall remain nameless!

Like most other East African academics, the Kenyan tried to be a major contributor to political change in the region. But again, like most East African intellectuals he was at best only a minor footnote to economic change.

The struggle continues
.

Professor Ali A. Mazrui
Chancellor
Jomo Kenyatta University of Agricultural and Technology
Nairobi, Kenya

Delivered at a Public Lecture at Makerere University to mark the 40th anniversary of the Bank of Uganda

15 August 2006

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Between A Rock and A Hard Place: Women, Career and Family

A good article but this view of balance between career and family is very unfair to women. There are many men who would like their wives to work and support family....we just need to appreciate that the world is very different these days from when women were merely home makers. That is why we are educating the girl child not to be child bearer.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
by Caroline Njung'e

In Summary

Today’s career woman seems to have it all; a good job, nice
car and beautiful house. But behind this fa├žade of success could be an
unhappy husband and neglected children.


It is a controversial, even taboo subject among some, but the fact is that a number of career women are losing their families and homes to their house helps. In their quest for impressive academic credentials a successful career and enviable social network, they forget to nurture what is probably the most important part of their lives –their families.

The result is that they wake up several years later to find that they have lost their families. Their children have developed into secretive, broody and rebellious teenagers while their husbands, whom they long stopped giving serious thought to, have become emotionally withdrawn and carved out a new life for themselves.

Women who have found themselves in such a position will probably relate to Margaret Mwangi.

Two years ago, 41-year-old Margaret Mwangi (not her real name), a senior manager in one of the largest banks in the country, thought she had it all. Already a Masters degree holder, she was a year into studying for a PhD in financial management and had won several awards for her outstanding performance.

She was earning good money and had extensive contacts. But as she rode the wave of her success, she forgot to channel the same effort and energy she directed at her career towards her husband of 14 years and three children.

Margaret would be up by 4 a.m. to get ready for the day’s numerous strategic meetings and for mandatory 30-minute jog around her upmarket neighbourhood.

She would leave the house at 6a.m., as her husband and children were waking up to prepare for the day. Thanks to Martha, the efficient and capable house-help she had had for eight years, Margaret knew that her family was in good hands.

Martha would prepare a healthy breakfast, ensure that everyone’s clothes, including her husband’s, were ironed and laid out and that their shoes were polished.

Given Margaret’s busy schedule, including her daily evening classes which ended at 8p.m., she usually got home at around 9 p.m., tired to the bone. By then, the children were in bed, having had supper and completed their homework with Martha’s help. In Margaret’s mind, she was a good mother and dedicated wife since she ensured that her family was well taken care of.

But due to her constant absence from home, her once close and loving relationship with her husband faded, to be replaced by a cordial one, devoid of emotion and passion. Their conversations were perfunctory and usually, after asking about each other’s day, she would take a shower, have a quick meal then collapse in bed, exhausted, with things that needed to be done at work the next day going in her mind.
She could not even recall the last time she and her husband had been intimate, but this did not really bother her. According to her, all marriages lost the initial fire they had after a couple of years. After all, hadn’t her friends confessed that they were going through similar experiences?

That’s why Margaret was shell-shocked when her 45-year-old husband announced that he was marrying another woman last year. But nothing could have prepared her for the bombshell that he dropped shortly thereafter — the other woman was Martha!

How could he do this to her after she had worked so hard so that they could all have a good life and a secure future? It is not like he or the children had been neglected – they lived in a clean home, had healthy, wholesome food everyday and led organised lives, she argued, as she tried to come to terms with the shocking news.

But when her husband pointed out that it was their live-in house help who did all these for the family, the argument instantly fizzled out. During the last five years of their marriage, Martha had practically usurped Margaret’s roles of wife and mother. She cooked for and served the man of the house, washed, ironed and laid out his clothes and dutifully cleaned and polished his shoes everyday. She even made the
couple’s bed, as well washed and changed the linen because Margaret often left early in the morning and returned late at night.

But more important, Martha had raised the couple’s three children almost single-handedly. When they were young, she would wake up in the middle of the night to lull them back to sleep or warm them a bottle of milk because their mother would be too exhausted to do it. And when they started going to school, she walked them to the bus stop, picked them up in the evening and helped them with their homework.

“How then can you claim that you are my wife and mother of my children if someone else has been doing what you should be doing?” her husband had retorted when she asked how he could embarrass her by having an affair with their house help right under her own roof.

Not ready to live in the same house or share her husband with Martha, Margaret walked out of the marriage with the children. Although she can offer them the comfortable life they were used to, re-learning how to be a mother to her children is proving very difficult.

The older two, a boy and a girl, are teenagers. Sulky, disobedient, and disrespectful, they are constantly getting into trouble at school. The other, now eight, is clingy, teary and has not stopped asking when they will move back home to “daddy and auntie”.

Margaret recently learnt that her former house help, a single mother of two, had given birth to a baby girl, who had been named after her husband’s mother.

Margaret’s case clearly demonstrates the situation in which many women find themselves after entrusting their family’s welfare and the running of their households to their house- helps.

This often unappreciated and underrated woman is the one who draws up the budget, does the shopping, decides what meals to prepare and sometimes even rushes the children to hospital when they fall sick. And it is she who helps them cope with the unsettling changes that take place during teenage.

It is no wonder, then, that some mothers don’t even know when her daughters had their first period, and that would be shocked to learn that they have actually reached this milestone.

The result is that such children grow up to be comfortable with their house-helps and prefer to go to them for advice rather than to their own mothers, since they have not formed a close bond with her.

Under their noses

It is these same house-helps who wait on their husbands, take their bath water to the bathroom, make their tea just the way they like it and have since discovered what makes them tick, what makes them happy and what sets them off. Yet wives are surprised when they discover that their husbands are having an affair with the house help right under their noses.

One of the women Saturday magazine talked to, a lecturer and professional counsellor, confessed that two years ago, her marriage was almost broke up because of the amount of time she was spending at work.

“Between my clinic and lectures, I did not realise just how little time I spent at home because I was always rushing somewhere,” she recalls.

It wasn’t until she overheard her house girl of two years asking her husband whether she should prepare for him “the usual tangawizi and lemon” to treat his cold that the alarm bells went off. “My husband had never asked me to make him anything for his cold and, worse still, I had not even noticed that he was unwell,” she says,
adding that this is what jolted her to take action. The following week, she gave up three classes, which meant that she could get home early at least three evenings a week to prepare the evening meal and have some quality time with her husband.
“I don’t think there is any married woman who believes her husband can have an affair with the house help, or worse, leave her for one, but what we forget is that she, too, is a woman and that human beings are naturally drawn to those who treat them well and show them that they matter,” she says.

She says that since then, she has been doing more for her husband, including serving him food, preparing his meals once in a while and spending more time with him. “Our relationship has improved, and although I am earning less than I used to, I am more relaxed and have more time for myself,” she observes.

Which brings us to the question – is it really possible for women to have the best of both worlds? Is it possible for women to have outstanding careers as well as happy and contented families? Kenyan women have been fighting for equality for quite some time now, and they are getting it. They are rising to positions once reserved
for men and earning as much as, if not more, than them. But at what price?

According to an article published in the The Mail of UK recently, women may have won the fight for equality, but “It has left many of them imprisoned and exhausted”. This is according to Erin Pizzey, a British women’s rights activist and author. Pizzey adds that the idea of women happily combining career and a family has turned out to be a myth.

In the article by Paul Revoir, she observes that women’s freedom of choice to have both has left them with less spare time than they had before, and as a result, lost something very important. “Many women don’t have a choice now, they have to work, they have to work hard, and I just see an exhausted generation of women trying to
do it all.”

Pizzey’s views are supported by Helen Fielding, author of the popular Bridget Jones series of novels, who criticised women who aspire to “have it all”.

In an article published in a recent issue of The Daily Mail of the UK, Fielding is quoted as saying that many young women today struggle to have successful careers and families in an idealistic society that expects them to balance these roles perfectly, a battle that leaves them “confused”.

“They feel they should be getting up at six in the morning and going to the gym, then doing a full day’s work, coming back late and feeding 12 people for dinner. It’s a modern disease,” she is quoted as saying. Explaining why it is not possible for women to have it all, she argues that there are only so many hours in a day and as a result, you either spend most of them at work, or at home raising children and making a home.

cnjunge@nation.co.ke