Women have risen with modern African society faster than a Robbie Gould 50-yarder!
Every time I blink my eye something radical changes in Africa. The rises in the power of women may be among the most astounding. Feminism as a movement was American and French, but in the last generation America has been left in the wake of gender equality movements elsewhere in the world, including Africa.
No statistics or dull charts this time, other than to remind you that the current star is Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia, the first freely elected woman executive in Africa.
(Elisabeth Domitien was Prime Minister of Central African Republic from 1975-1976 but that was a job her dictator father appointed her to, and Agathe Uwilingiyimana was Rwanda Prime Minister for less than a year in 1993-1994 just before the genocide, again an appointed executive position rife with political overtones and no real power.)
But what caught my attention this time after I unblinked my eyes was how sports stadiums are now filled with women in Africa!
I remember the All African Games in Nairobi in August, 1987. A new set of stadiums that could hold more than 100,000 people had been built, and not a single woman appeared! Honestly, not one!
How different it is today, representing this meteoric rise in the power of women in Africa over only a single generation.
I recently watched the string of fans coming out of the Nairobi stadium following a soccer match, and it had to be nearly a third women. And quite unlike at home, it isn’t mixed. The women go all together, sit together, cheer together, even (presuming) if their SigOth or Partner is somewhere else in the stands!
In a (very interestingly) unattributed article in today’s Nairobi newspaper, the Daily Nation, the reporter-in-hiding declared that sports matches “regularly play host to a bevy of colourful and distinctively feminine fans” who are “skimpily dressed” and he (I’m sure it was a HE) didn’t mean Michael Phelps.
Kenya’s change is amazing, but even more amazing is that it seems to have outpaced the southern countries, where gender equality has been at least a part of the constitution and legislation for a longer time.
That isn’t to say it’s not moving fast down there, too, though!
Women “can be found in the rowdier stands such as the famous ‘Russia’ section of the National Stadium in Gaborone [Botswana] dancing, singing and hurling insults… just like men,” the anonymous author claims.
Malawi’s chief marketing manager for football (soccer), Casper Jangale, told the article, “In the early 2000s many matches …often ended in violence,” which discouraged women fans, but that that’s changed. Jangale now advises sponsors that at least a quarter of the fans are now women.
And in Zambia, football is the prime past time of both First Lady Thandiwe Banda and the wife of the vice president, Irene Kunda.
One thing the African woman will never be able to do that American women already are doing at Chicago Bears’ games: tail-gating brat fests at minus 10!
But that may be all!