Blend of Culture and Democracy

English: Boda-boda. Uganda, somewhere on A109 ...
English: Boda-boda. Uganda, somewhere on A109 Road, between Jinja and Malaba Русский: Бода-бода. Уганда, на трассе А109, между Джинджей и Малабой. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

County Governments in Kenya

The country of Kenya has been divided into 47 administrative areas called Counties, each with its County Assembly, under the central government.

Kisumu County, which is one of the 47 counties, situated on the western part of Kenya has introduced a controversial bill in its County Assembly that seeks to ban women from sitting on motorcycles with their legs apart, and facing the driver/ rider. The bill recommends that women passengers sit facing sideways – seen as a more respectful posture.

Motorcycle as a means of transport is a booming business in this part of the world and has created employment to thousands of youths who would otherwise be jobless.

The local name adapted for the motorcycle “taxis” is “boda-boda”. It is a name in Kiswahili language which was borrowed from an English word “border”. This word was adapted apparently because this mode of transportation was first used to ferry passengers between border towns or villages of the neighboring countries of Tanzania and Uganda.

Having said that, and even before the bill was actually introduced in the County Assembly, it has received a mixed reaction from the citizens. Some supporting it while others opposing it saying that the bill will violate the democratic rights of women.

Women association supports

One massive support to the bill came from the giant Kenya women Association ( known as Maendeleo ya Wanawake), who said that the bill, if passed will make women sit decently on the motorcycle taxis. They called for its quick enforcement into law, and further suggested that the law be extended country wide.

The women association said that women wearing short skirts expose their bodies indecently, which is frowned upon in the tradition of people living in that part of the country. Some of these women passengers suggestively hold the drivers from behind, leaving no room for imagination.

Culture vs democracy.

The push for the introduction of the controversial bill has been triggered by traditional or cultural reasons. It is known that the Luo culture ( Luo is a tribe found in the Kisumu county) frown upon women who expose their bodies indiscreetly in front of men.

Introduction of the bill in the County Assembly is an indication  that certain types of rules, customs or traditions may become law, or regulatory legislation may be introduced to formalize or enforce the convention. In a social context, a convention may retain the character of “unwritten law” or custom.

Here is a clear example of the blend of tradition and democracy. are we going to see more of this happening in future?

What do you think? Please send your comments.


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