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Tabitha M Kanogo

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Mission Impact on Women in Colonial Kenya" in Women and Missions: Past and Present, Anthropological and Historical Perceptions. Yet trouble at home did not stop Maathai from becoming one of Kenya’s most influential environmental activists. As we see in the penultimate chapter, the frailties of scientific knowledge, accentuated by colonial parsimony, were exposed in rural hospitals with inadequate maternity facilities. She waged a fearless struggle to protect forests and water catchment areas and encouraged sustainable and equitable utilization of all natural resources. Kanogo also demonstrates the link that Maathai saw between political corruption and environmental degradation.

Meanwhile, the urban poor are an expanding population with little wiggle room in their crowded cities. Maathai's approach was to raise awareness among rural communities, especially women, about environmental degradation (i. Her political activism was at times considered subversive, and her confrontation with agents of the regime occasionally resulted in arrests. As Kanogo demonstrates in discussing runaways and converts to Islam, women asserted agency in the space between customary and statutory law. In 1943, her family relocated from their reservation into the White Highlands where her father found work on a settler farm.

This activism put her on a collision course with the Kenyan government from 1978 to 2002, as the regime became increasingly authoritarian and corrupt and progressively failed to deliver basic services to the majority of the population. As in indigenous and colonial societies sought to control these aspects of girls and women’ lives, Kanogo contends, “‘Womanhood’ thus became a battleground where issues of modernization, tradition, change and personal identity were fought” (p.

It is hoped to depict the prevailing male stereotypes of women; how men manipulated these; and the way in which women conformed to — and in some cases overcame — such stereotypes by creating new female images and by adopting new roles during the struggle. At home, she had to contend with the heavy burden of African womanhood: she tried to “emulate the domestic subservience and self-effacing behavior that typified the 'good' African woman” (p. In their response to the machinations of the colonial system, the squatters were neither passive nor malleable but, on the contrary, actively resisted coercion and subordination as they struggled to carve out a living for themselves and their families…. Consumed by a desire to achieve political freedom for all Kenyans, she pursued her quest for democracy and respect for human rights in multiple ways, such as demonstrating at Uhuru Park’s Freedom Corner with the mothers of political prisoners and vying for political office. Kanogo conveys the interconnectedness between Maathai's quest for environmental justice and her efforts to achieve gender equality in Kenya.The rural family might experience poverty as a result of diminishing harvests caused by inadequate and overutilized land, and deforestation stemming from an overdependence on firewood and a lack of reforestation can result in soil erosion due to a dearth of topsoil cover. Chapter one on women’s legal and cultural status covers “the formative, deeply fractured and fluid” period of 1910 to 1930 in which the colonial administration attempted to codify women’s status under customary law. Those seeking a comprehensive introduction to the subject should look no further, although the work of Luise White and Lynn Thomas is more innovative. Globally, women and girls disproportionately bear the costs of biodiversity loss and environmental degradation, yet they are marginalized from conservation planning and action.

Focusing upon the law, missions, schools, marriage and the household, Kanogo explores the myriad of responses by women to colonialism. The transformations that resulted from these reworkings involved the negotiation and redefinition of the meaning of individual liberties and of women's agency, along with the reconceptualization of kinship relations and of community.It is unsurprising that the following chapter is given over to bitterly resisted attempts to restrict or prohibit clitoridectomy. She believed that it was not a matter for tomorrow and that the environment is [an] everyday issue . These shortcomings added to suspicion caused by the employment of male dressers as midwives, the marginalization of traditional midwifery and the accommodation of expectant mothers in wards alongside the sick. Over and over, women found opportunities to act amid the conflicting policies, unintended consequences, and inconsistent compromises that characterized colonial rule. This chapter sets up the argument throughout the book that the tentative and fluid nature of the colonial state unintentionally opened up new avenues for women’s self-assertion.

In continuation with the work of other scholars of colonial and customary law, Kanogo argues the colonial state’s interventions in inventing customary law and creating an embryonic colonial legal system opened up spaces in which women seeking to leave undesirable marriages could successfully petition for dissolution. She casts women as victims whose morality, sexuality, and physical and socioeconomic mobility society sought to control. In the first chapter, Kanogo examines the dilemma of African women within the milieu of two oppositional legal frameworks--precolonial and colonial--and how women dealt with them, with varying degree of success. Juggling household responsibilities and an academic career alongside her husband’s hectic political life was too great a burden for their marriage. She fought unremittingly to save urban parks, most notably, Karura Forest and Uhuru Park in Nairobi—both of which still exist today.

The story of the hummingbird trying to put out a massive forest fire while all the other animals stand by totally overwhelmed and powerless is a befitting analogy to Maathai’s relentless effort to curb environmental degradation despite daunting political opposition, intimidation, shaming, and even physical abuse.

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