Eve Ensler was in Nairobi during the last week of August. Eve is the bestselling author of the book, The Vagina Monologues, in which she interviews women of all walks of life, ages and cultures and gets them to talk about their….um..er.. vaginas. Many people, have a problem with the word vagina, including women and Eve changed that through the book. The Vagina Monologues over the past decade, have been performed by women in theatres all over the world.
Eve held a workshop at the Safari Park Hotel with women delegates from all over Africa. The delegates included gender activists, thespians and victims of violence. The 3-day session was open by Lady Justice Dr Njoki Ndung’u and Hon. Martha Karua. Also present were activist Ann Njogu and thespian Mumbi Kaigwa. The delegates will launch V-Day in their respective countries and contribute to the 1 Billion Rising Campaign to fight violence against women in form of rape, FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) and beatings.
When victims took the floor, they broke down as they relived stories of violence, sexual and gender-based. Observers could not help but shed tears as well. I was touched to tears when a delegate from the Horn of Africa asked about the difference between sexual experiences of a women who have undergone FGM and those who haven’t. Immediately, a delegate from Southern Africa exclaimed surprise at sitting so close to a woman who has been through the cut. “I have never met a woman who has been through it” she explained. The women shared their experienced and promised each other “I’ll show you mine (mutilated) if you show me yours (normal). An American women next to them offered to show her “white” one, sending the entire room into laughter, including the 5 or so men present. That’s what the constitution means by freedom of expression.
But the highlight of the event was without doubt, Eve’s rendition of the Monologues. At its climax (pun intended) was a powerful reproduction of the various sounds women make as they reach orgasm. This was met with a well-deserved standing ovation and eruption of laughter. This ended an otherwise emotional workshop on a positive note.