By Kalungi Kabuye
Two things happened this week in Kenya that have become trending on social media, and even made their way into the mainstream media.
First a picture of a policewoman wearing a short, tight skirt went viral. Then a picture of the President, Uhuru Kenyatta, signing the new polygamy law also caused a lot of waves.
Someone once said that they are more things that bind us with our neighbours the Kenyans than separate us. Granted, but the two events above would have been treated very differently in Uganda.
Take that short, tight skirt. The reason why it went viral in Kenya is that is pour neighbours are not used to seeing things like that. Kenyans are very proud people, and very patriotic when it comes to their country. But when it comes to feminine curves, they readily bow to Uganda.
Wide hips and big female behinds are a rarity, that is why Corporal Linda Okello got all that attention. If she was Ugandan she would not have turned any heads at all, because wide hips and big derrieres are ten a penny in Uganda.
Go to any office in Kampala and it is a sure bet at least 3 out of 10 women are dressed like Corporal Okello, and their measurements would make that Kiambu cop green with envy.
Kenyan fascination with all wide hips and big behinds was also evident when some woman identified as a one Kwamboka posted pictures of herself on facebook, and the whole of Kenya went crazy. She had generous curves, true, but nothing extraordinary. Not by Uganda standards.
In fact it came out that there is some kind of competition on Kenya social media about who has the biggest behind. Kwamboka was only one of dozens of Kenyan girls who sought fame in Kenya social circles because of the size of her butt. (Incidentally there are claims that Kwamboka is actually a lawyer, but none of her learned friends came out to condemn her.)
A few years ago, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek article about Kenyan women. It was after a debate with a Kenyan colleague (a female) about the attributes of Kenyan girls. I wrote that a typical Kenyan girl looked sophisticated, had a pretty face, wide shoulders and big breasts. But she practically had no hips to speak of, and was flat as a board behind.
It was supposed to be funny, but they did not see that way. The day it ran most of the breakfast shows on Nairobi radio was about that article (didn’t know so many Kenyan read The New Vision). Most comments were abusive, and there were calls to ban me from ever visiting Kenya again.
One strange this were the rants about Ugandan women, and how their big behinds and wide hips made them look ugly, and that no self-respecting Kenyan man would be seen with one. What do they say about who laughs last? He he he
And then there is thing about the new polygamy law that has many Ugandan men swearing they are shifting to Kenya. Essentially the Kenyan Marriage Bill 2013 (now the Marriage Act 2014) removed the veto power that previous laws had given a Kenyan wife over attempts by her husband to marry other wives. Now the guy can just go ahead and marry when he wants.
But it is not that straight forward. The Act recognises five types of marriages in Kenya – Christian, civil, customary, Hindu, and Islamic marriages. Only customary and Islamic marriages are recognised as polygamous, the others (Christian, civil, Hindu) are monogamous and only allow one wife at a time.
So before any of you folks plan to move to Kenya to get more wives, think again. I am not sure about the figures, but it is a safe bet that most marriages, both in Uganda and in Kenya, are actually church marriages.