2 February 2013

Kenya: Should Nairobi Women Be Allowed to Go to War?


Interesting news came out of the US last weekend as its military ended a centuries-long ban on women in the armed forces going to war. The long and short of this is that women in the US now have the right to military glory.

This includes going to war with guns and other equipment and possibly losing one's life at the worst or having injuries that make life very difficult for those injured. This includes amputation of limbs among other serious injuries.

Those who leave in one piece still have to contend with major trauma of battle conditions with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder being one of the first conditions anyone from a battle field has to deal with. Now women in the US military have the right to die for their country like the men.

I anticipate a slew of new movies from Hollywood with one woman armies reminiscent of the much loved Rambo and Commando series starring people like Sandra Bullock and Halle Berry.

As I read this story I wondered if this can apply to our country. We have women in our military playing support roles but there are no women in the uniformed forces to go to war in areas like Somalia when Kenya attacked the al Shabaab.

The reasoning behind not allowing women to fight alongside men made sense historically as women and children were to be away when all hell broke loose.

However, in the new age with equality for all, it only makes sense to have all people in a society do their bit to ensure safety.

With the new Kenya it is only a matter of time before we see formation of an NGO whose main aim will be to agitate for women to go to war. The reasoning behind this will be that women are just as competitive as men.

Sitting around knitting should not make someone think women cannot be competitive. You only need to see bridesmaids at a wedding fighting for the bridal bouquet at the end of the ceremony to see ladies at their competitive best.

One can also see ladies push their way into a matatu at rush hour to go home and cook for their families.

In fact women aspirants for the National Assembly recently made history by becoming the first ones to invade the current electoral body's headquarters to fight for one of their own whose name was missing on the list of nominees of a leading political party.

Ladies getting into the uniformed forces in droves will, however, result in some interesting problems. As opposed to the current set up, women will not be a small group but a large part of the army.

The army is designed for people to follow orders to the letter without question. In a combat situation this is the only way to operate. Officers with many ladies under their command will have it tough dealing with some of the sophisticated Nairobi ladies who hardly take instructions.

Then there will be the matter of the military uniform. Everyone dresses the same in the military with different ranks of officers having their ceremonial and combat gear.

The problem here is that fashion-conscious ladies will not be very happy to dress like everyone else. They will probably complain quite bitterly about the dress code.

Those who won't complain will dress uniformly but ensure they add some little bits to the garb to show their individuality which won't work so well for those who want to ensure uniformity in the service.

Assuming that eventually everyone gets to the front line there may be a new problem. We all know the ladies who have been seeking boyfriends in all manner of ways including putting adverts in newspapers to seek true love and warn jokers to keep off.

When people are hard at work fighting the enemy such lady would espy their enemy who would be say a good looking member of the al Shabaab and exclaim, "I can't shoot him, he is too handsome!"

The problem with this is that this guy would not be interested in dating but shooting the lady in Kenyan uniform and it never ends well in such situations.

Venue review: Waka Waka pub

I was on my way home on Friday afternoon. My plan was to use public transport at the Bus station in downtown Nairobi. The heat was too much as it usually is in January, so when I saw a place to get some relief I walked in.

There was a pub just before the station that stood out. I walked into the building which sadly has no elevator. Those bound on wheelchairs would definitely find it tough to gain access to the facility. Walking up one storey of the building, I passed by a cybercafe and other electronic accessories shops before accessing the pub.

The Waka Waka pub is huge. It has taken a big part of the first floor of the building. It has a large stage at the centre. There were musical instruments which included a keyboard and drums with several microphones.

Behind this set up was the main bar which has a large counter. This is where I sat. The barman greeted me with enthusiasm before asking what I would have. Even though this somewhat took me aback, I asked for a cold Tusker which came to Sh150 which is not bad in these times.

Above the bar everyone was keenly following the proceedings on the TV at a commission where a former Police Commissioner was denying knowledge of a guy outed as a fake senior police officer.

I am told on weekends you can also watch your team as it battles in the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga and other European leagues.

The seating here was standard as far as the Nairobi drinking venues are concerned. It has four metal and wooden contraptions surrounding tables in the office.

The place has a bit of a balcony facing the street for those who want to look at what is happening on the street. The place was a bit dark which I suppose allowed the management to do amazing things.

On my visit to the washrooms I found a gentleman washing his hands and face at the sink which told me that the place was clean enough with water and soap. Emergency exits are always very important.

This weekend there was a fire in Brazil which saw hundreds die due to absence of enough exit doors. Waka Waka boasts a sign loudly proclaiming "Fire escape" but this didn't lead to another exit but to the manager's office. Not inspiring to say the very least.

A quick recap of the venue;

Good: Reasonably priced drinks, exceptional service, decent décor, location ideal for public transport users and not car owners,

Bad: No disability access, emergency exits not convincing.

My verdict: I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with this bar which is quite large. You are here with your friends and having drinks as you wait for traffic to die down before leaving town.

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