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Daily Nation : February 9th 2014
SUNDAY NATION February 9, 2014 National News 3 FASHION | Ms Mary Quaint, the designer, will celebrate her eightieth birthday on Tuesday Half a century later, mini-skirt as iconic as ever Loved by many, loathed by some, the short skirt stoked controversy from self-proclaimed moralists, the Law Society, church and even schoolgirls BY CAROL ODERO @CarolOdero firstname.lastname@example.org T o think that something as short as the miniskirt has earned itself a half-century of debate is clear proof that fashion can make the world go round. As the woman credited with invent- ing the mini turns 80 this month, the story of her creation seems to be largely centred on morality, sometimes with tragicomic arguments. In 1965, British fashion designer Mary Quant (below) lifted the hemlines of her skirts and inspired a new fashion sense. She named it after her favourite car, the Morris Mini. By description, it is no longer than four inches below the buttocks. The definition of womanhood universally changed from matronly housewife to youthful, vibrant female, aware of her power and appeal. In Kenya, the mini seeped into the fashion scene, including girls high schools. Those with female friends and relatives aged between the mid-50s and early 70s can ask for a history lesson on the skirt’s popularity in Kenya from the 1960s — backed up no less by photographic evidence from the family album. It must have been the only time Kenya was in perfect sync with the entire fashion world, with minis being worn bare-legged or with tights. The 1970s are subdued, sartorial times for Kenya. The ultra-conservative presidency of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta seemed to quash the rebellious spirit of youth. But today, “a hemline half-way up the thigh is no longer synonomous with rebellion and newly-won sexual freedom as it was back then”. Nonetheless, Kenya has had many controversies linked to the mini. In 2003 the Mungiki sect brought the debate to the fore when its members started stripping women wearing miniskirts and trousers. The “moral police”, be they Mungiki or overenthusiastic men, would, in subsequent years, be in the news after sporadic acts of stripping women wearing “very short skirts”. There was special emphasis in 2007 when Mungiki declared Naivasha, Nakuru and Limuru miniskirt-free zones, almost daring women to defy them. Sheikh Mohammed Sheikh, a Mus- lim cleric, told the BBC that although Islam disapproved of wearing miniskirts and tight trousers, he did not support a compulsory dress code. In 2008, Ms Lucy Oriang, then an editor at the Daily Nation, gave this brief advice in an opinion article: “If you find trousers and miniskirts offensive, you have the freedom to look the other way. And you can PHOTO | AFP Young women wearing mini-skirts walk down a street in Copenhagen in 1968. An icon of the 1960s “Swinging London” and creator of the mini-skirt, Ms Quant will celebrate her 80th birthday on Tuesday. take comfort in the fact that there’s no law that will force you and your loved ones to wear them. For me, it is a very straightforward issue: if you feel good and comfortable in them, go ahead. It’s your body, your trousers and your miniskirt.” In July 2012 an Ipsos Synovate survey indicated that 45 per cent of men aged 18 and above hated exhibitionism or indecent dressing that included miniskirts, exposing dresses or tight trousers. Then there was the controversial January 2013 Law Society of Kenya dress code that, among other things, asked for decent dressing. “Skirts must be black, grey, navy blue or other darkish colours, and must be at least knee length,” LSK directed. But one of the biggest shocks in recent years came when students from Rwathia Girls in Murang’a went on strike in July 2012 in protest against “long skirts”. Well, they wanted them shorter and got the support of none other than then Education minister Mutula Kilonzo! The minister was later forced to clarify his earlier remarks that girls should not be dressed “like nuns” and asked teachers to be “modern like Mutula”. As the mini debate continues, the iconic skirt does not seem under threat of disappearing. Indeed, it is reinventing itself including into the micro-mini. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, “A good debate should be like a woman’s skirt: long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.” Partner with us to build hostels, Laikipia VC says BY JAMES KARIUKI @kamaukariuki_ email@example.com Laikipia University yesterday challenged investors to take up a “build-own-transfer” opportunity to build hostels to accommodate students ahead of the 2015 university ‘tsunami’. Vice-Chancellor Prof Francis Lelo said the university had “sweet” plans for investors to put up hostels in a 30-40 year deal whereby the university will manage the hostels but forward the rent payments at agreed instalments. “The free education boom de- mands that we urgently expand our facilities to accommodate the big number of beneficiaries and this is where private businesspeople can come in and make money while contributing to this university’s development,” he said. He said the university had ample land for investors to put up hostels to accommodate about 10,000 students in the next three years. He added that the university had invited local and foreign sponsors to help put up a modern stadia and a training complex that will enable athletes and other sportsmen train in a high-altitude area. The VC was speaking when the Nation Media Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr Linus Gitahi, paid him a courtesy call to chart new ways of collaboration with the university. Mr Gitahi challenged the uni- versity to prepare itself to benefit from emerging opportunities in the East African Community as it enhances closer co-operation among member states. He said that with the digital revolution, public universities must brace themselves for stiffer competition for students and there was a need to come up with unique academic programmes that are attractive to East Africans. Prof Lelo said the Samburu peo- ple had donated 600 acres of land and another 100 acres was offered at Rumuruti for establishment of satellite centres.
February 8th 2014
February 10th 2014