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Thursday, 8 March, 2001, 16:10 GMT
Outrage at Moi remark
Emolo women in Kenya
Are Kenyan women owed an apology?
By Joseph Warungu in Nairobi

Leaders in Kenya, particularly women, are up in arms against President Daniel arap Moi for comments he made saying one of the things that hinders women from making progress is because they have small brains.

"You [women] can achieve more, can get more but because of your little minds, you cannot get what you are expected to get!" the president said on Tuesday while opening a regional women's seminar in Nairobi.

Since then, Kenyan papers have carried bitter reactions from leaders who are angry at the president's comments.

The chairman of the Law Society of Kenya described the utterances as unfortunate, saying the president owed Kenyan women an apology.

President Moi
Moi: Frequently offends when speaking off-the-cuff
The head of the Catholic Church in Kenya, Archbishop Ndingi Mwana Nzeki, spoke in defence of women saying they have equal intelligence and ability while the chairperson of the coalition on violence against women, Adelina Mwau, said the president had made a habit of abusing women.

String of gaffes

President Moi's "little minds" comment is just the latest in a series of blunders that the Kenyan head of state has made.

For years now, Kenyans have known that President Moi only makes news when he puts the prepared text down and speaks off-the-cuff.

Joyce Chepchumba
Joyce Chepchumba: One of Kenya's many female achievers
That is when politicians, particularly those in fear of falling from favour, sit up and pay attention. It's also the time that journalists fish out their pens and begin scribbling furiously.

And for a man who has a specialised press unit to cover his functions but no spokesman to help him out in times of need, the blunders have come thick and fast - particularly when he speaks in a fit of anger.

'Slave traders'

At the height of the struggle for a multi-party state in the early 1990s, Muslim political activists became "slave traders".

When a few years ago, teachers threatened a national strike, their leader became "a foolish, foolish man" who deserved to be locked up.

And last year when Kenya suffered its worst drought in 30 years, resulting in power and water rationing, and Kenyans blamed the government for lack of foresight, the president took to the podium and boldly declared he was neither God nor rainmaker.

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03 Nov 00 | Africa
Kenya tackles wife beaters
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