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|Leiden University catalogue
|Mamas Fighting for Freedom in Kenya
offences against national security
Law, Human Rights and Violence
Politics and Government
Law, Legal Issues, and Human Rights
|On the last day of February 1992, a group of rural, elderly, Kikuyu women descended on Nairobi (Kenya) with a potent demand. Empowered by a tradition of female activism and collective activity, a group of mothers of political prisoners acted on principles of care and justice and strategically employed motherhood to demand the release of their sons, who were imprisoned in October 1990 for advocating multipartyism. In order to reach their aim they staged a hunger strike and three elderly mothers stripped ('guturamira ng'ania', to curse a person by stripping) when they were attacked by the police. The Mamas' protest was an important causal factor in the release of the prisoners in June 1992 and January 1993. The author argues that although the experience of mothering shapes what issues women choose to address and the ways they express them, the motivating force of women's political action is not limited to the 'care ethic'. The mothers also made rights-oriented arguments and exhibited concern for abstract principles such as justice and freedom. Notes, ref.