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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Burying Otieno: The Politics of Gender and Ethnicity in Kenya
Author:Stamp, Patricia
Periodical:Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society
Geographic term:Kenya
Women's Issues
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Law, Human Rights and Violence
Labor and Employment
Cultural Roles
Law, Legal Issues, and Human Rights
Equality and Liberation
Sex Roles
Politics and Government
Abstract:In 1987 a Kenyan widow was taken to court by her dead husband's family in a sensational contest over the burial of his remains. Wambui Otieno, the wife of a prominent criminal lawyer, S.M. Otieno, became the eye of a storm about customary law, women's rights, and intertribal marriages following the lawyer's death intestate in December 1986. Wambui is a member of the Kikuyu ethnic group; Otieno was a Luo. How a widow could experience such an ordeal in contemporary Kenya is the subject of this article. It first describes the central characters of the burial saga, Wambui and Otieno, and the marriage that epitomized the nationalist sentiments of a newly independent country. It then recounts the court battles that followed Otieno's death. How the Kenyan women's movement was silenced in the public debate surrounding the issue is a significant aspect of the narrative. Following an account of the staged drama of Otieno's funeral, the article explores the social, economic, and political implications of the case, focusing on the use of gender relations in clan and ethnic politics. It concludes with reflections on the form of feminist struggle in contemporary Africa as revealed by Wambui's ordeal. Notes, ref.