She did not tell people to go naked, that is what Senator Emma Mbura says in her defence. The story has spread like the legendary bush fire. Nominated Senator, Mbura allegedly asked women in the coastal region to go topless so that more tourists can visit the region. This has raised questions as to what the value of the coastal woman is. Is that all she is worth- An object of trade?
So, how did her statement reflect in the minds of Kenyans? Majala, a Taita lady from Mombasa says,
“Look at all the people supporting Miss Mbura on Facebook and show me one woman.”
She says that the only people agreeing with the senator are unmarried men, men without children, lost men and men with nothing better to say. According to Majala, no modern woman who is educated and civilized will agree to walk around topless.
“Why then should the woman in the village be subjected to such action so that they can keep the banks of the well dressed overflowing?” She poses.
Some girls interviewed about this story held a very different opinion. Some thought that there is no problem in wearing their traditional mahando and leso. However they are skeptical about leaving their chests exposed since men have in recent times proven capable of molesting even well-dressed women. If the tourism sector cannot be creative and find other ways of bringing back tourists, then they can as well close down.
Speaking to the Star later, Senator Mbura clarified the whole matter saying
“I have not told anyone to go naked. But we must know where we came from,” She was later interviewed on K24TV where she clarified her remarks and urged a more serious approach to cultural tourism. The senator took her message further by attending a conference in Addis Ababa dressed in traditional wear.
According to Mbura, the other African countries like Uganda and Nigeria are selling their traditions. Question is, are they topless? There is so much that Kenya has that can attract tourists. There are wild animals which the tourism sector should put more effort into protecting instead of complaining of poaching; there are historic buildings, respectable cultural activities and splendid hotels.
Most people feel that Mbura’s claims are unfounded and just an excuse.
‘She probably wanted some attention’ says Dorcas of the Technical University of Mombasa.
“Nobody cares for the woman in the village who never went to school. Women are always used as a tool of money making and pleasure.”
Why, they ask, is the man not being told to remove his trousers and dress in a skin to attract female tourists? Why is he allowed to be at the top receiving the respect while women crawl in the dirt of misuse?
There are others who feel that she was right, on the other hand.
A few men, dressed in colorful kanzus think that she has got it right.
“Mila zetu hizi mpaka tuzichunge sisi wenyewe basi. Mzungu akija anafurahia anawacha mapesa” said one, finishing with a hearty laugh .
They argue that it does not necessarily mean that the woman should shed her clothes but that the region should go back to its old culture.
“Too many half clothed women have inhibited the coast and the tourists have enough exposed skin in their countries, they need a touch of the old Africa,” says a renowned school director who did not want to be named.
Do you think this is a worthy strategy?