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<a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/printedition/chi-0405200214may20,1,6263830.story?coll=chi-printnews-hed" target="_blank">http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/p...-printnews-hed</a><br><br>
African women walk away from idea of baby strollers<br><br>
Many see carriage as an impractical affront to tradition, saying kids `can't sit like lumps<br><br><br>
By Emily Wax<br>
The Washington Post<br><br>
May 20, 2004<br><br>
NAIROBI, Kenya -- Irene Wambui can't imagine why anyone would buy a baby stroller. She sees it as a cold cage filled with useless rattles, cup holders and mirrored headlights. Imagine children being stuffed into such a contraption and pushed around town like some kind of pet.<br><br>
Yet here she is in the middle-class Westlands shopping district, trying to sell her store's newest merchandise, the four-wheeled plastic and metal tool of modern motherhood. But so far, strollers have been a flop in Nairobi, an affront to tradition.<br><br>
Across Africa, women can be seen carrying sleeping or sometimes giggly babies on their backs, swathed in cloth. The babies move to the sway of their mothers' hips, synchronized throughout the day, bending with them as they collect water or sweep the floor and rising again when the women stop to rest. They hang on as their mothers sell food in the market or pray at a church or mosque.<br><br>
The introduction of strollers and baby carriages, both known here by the British word "pram," horrifies traditionalists, even someone like Wambui, who sells them. The stroller is appearing in major cities around Africa but so far has not been a hit.<br><br>
"It's not so wonderful. In Africa, we just carry our children or let them roam. They can't sit like lumps," said Wambui, 24. "Besides, our roads aren't even good enough for these devices. If everyone had a pram it would cause jam-ups in traffic. Then we would be bad to our children and bad to our roads."<br><br>
Wambui's boss and manager, Zara Esmail, was pacing back and forth in front of the strollers one recent day. She said the store had sold only one in two months--to a visiting United Nations worker from Britain who complained later that she had been disappointed by the small selection.<br><br>
"In general I thought they would sell far better," Esmail said. Perhaps, she added, it's a question of directing more advertising toward middle-class, working moms.<br><br>
The stroller has sparked debate among African pediatricians who think the device may damage the relationship between a mother and a child.<br><br>
"The pram is the ultimate in pushing the baby away from you," said Frank Njenga, a child psychiatrist in Nairobi, Kenya's bustling capital. "The baby on the back is actually following the mother in warmth and comfort. The baby feels safer, and safer people are happier people."<br><br>
In the United States and Europe, strollers have long been controversial. Recently some doctors and child psychologists have blamed them for everything from pediatric obesity to low self-esteem later in life.<br><br>
Jane Clark, professor of kinesiology at the University of Maryland, said there is concern that Americans are overusing strollers for older children, causing toddlers to be less physically active. A movement among child advocates promotes the idea of carrying babies more and getting them out of their strollers.<br><br>
At the same time, Web sites and magazines in the U.S. and Europe dedicate a lot of space to the subject of choosing a style of stroller or carriage--front-to-back or side-by-side, with or without a lightweight titanium frame, pneumatic tires, rear suspension, mudflaps and/or battery-operated blinkers. Some European-made antique carriages are status symbols for celebrities such as Madonna and Celine Dion, who spent $2,600 on the classic Balmoral Pram, described by some Web reviewers as a tiny Humvee.<br><br>
Africans consider the traditional method of toting their children the only true version of day care. When it's time for feeding, the food is right there as a mother shifts her child to the front of her body, nestling the infant to her breast. The baby stroller could change all of that. But many people here said they thought the devices would be just another instance of Africans adopting the worst habits of industrialization.<br><br>
"There are customs from a hundred years ago that are not relevant today for Africans. Our challenge is to pick the good from the bad," said Carol Mandi, managing editor of EVE, a women's magazine. "But carrying on your back, well, that is just a wonderful custom that keeps the baby emotionally stable and lets the mother feel bonded. We can't stop being African women just because we are suddenly thrust into the modern world. What next? They will tell us to stop breast-feeding in public? No way."<br><br><br>
Copyright © 2004, Chicago Tribune
 

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GREAT article! i totally agree. although i think anything can be overused and misused, including strollers. sometimes they are great (like when i take my 1 year old daugther, who is not walking, AND the little 18month old boy who i babysit, who tends to dart into traffic, for a walk. jas goes in the sling, and connor in the stroller. it's the only way we can go anywhere.<br><br>
but then you see these babies in the mall shoved into a stroller full of toys and sippy cups and whatnot and they look totally bored and alone. hello?! this is a little person, who needs to interact!<br><br>
okay sorry to off on a tangent...i loved the last line of the article, about breastfeeding in public. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up">
 

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Discussion Starter #3
IN the US we are so used to strollers and baby paraphanallia that I don't think it will go away, but they have a great thing going in Africa. They nurse their young and think its natural <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> and also feel its natural to carry a baby around while they work etc. I say don't fix it if it don't need fixin!
 

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I recently vacationed at a resort near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The resort catered to mostly Mexican families from the city of Guadalahara, and also to Canadians. The week we were there, was a holiday weekend for Mexicans, and there were LOTS of families.<br><br>
There were a few strollers, but FTMP babies and toddlers were carried. There were so many steps and uneven surfaces that a stroller would have been horrible. However, I didn't see any slings or carriers being used, either.<br><br>
Overall the kids were happy and well behaved. They help each other, and in the whole week, I only saw one or 2 toddlers crying or unhappy. In the evening, I saw lots of dads and moms and grandmas holding or carrying a sleeping baby or toddler or even preschooler, while the rest of the family just continued enjoying the evening's entertainment. sometimes the sleeping child seemed almost as tall as the parent!. I saw a few women breastfeeding. I never really saw a child being breastfed to sleep, but obviously they were quite comfortable with falling to sleep on their parent's lap. IME here, kids that are used to going to sleep in cribs, can't won't fall asleep anywhere else, and just get crabby and horrible until they get home to their cribs. While my kids just asked to nursed when they were tired, and fell asleep anywhere in any circumstance, as long as mom was there!<br><br>
It really did my heart good to see such people so inclusive of all members of the family - babies, children, grandparents, etc. They all were together.<br><br>
Janice
 

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apperently, the Chicago Tribune version was edited - this Washington Post version is longer.<br><br><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A34654-2004May17.html" target="_blank">http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...2004May17.html</a><br><br><br><br>
These are the paragraphs missing from the end:<br><br>
Some women in Africa at first apparently hoped the stroller could help reduce the physical exhaustion suffered by mothers, the backbone of Africa's labor force in both domestic duties and small-scale businesses.<br><br>
But because the pram is not only socially unacceptable but expensive, merchants are finding they aren't selling. The average pram, though far cheaper than some car-like U.S. models, still hovers around $60, at least half a month's wages even in Africa's most successful urban economies.<br><br>
At the baby store in Nairobi where Wambui works, dusty models sat untouched.<br><br>
"We've never used a pram. They are a bit pricey," said Nellie Mwanzia, who was shopping nearby while her husband, Roy, carried their 20-month-old son, David. "Just carrying the baby is no bother. It's more personal."<br><br>
Mary Mwanzia, 32, a mother and part-time government secretary, popped into the store to buy baby bottles. Esmail corralled her potential buyer over to the strollers. But Mwanzia, even with her modern job and her braided red hair extensions and bell-bottom jeans, found the baby buggies "oppressive."<br><br>
Esmail suggested a test drive. Mwanzia was not having it.<br><br>
"It's just not Kenyan," she said. "For the child, the love will not be there if the child is cooped up in such an antisocial device." She purchased her bottles and left.<br><br><br>
Janice
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Janice in Canada</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">apperently, the Chicago Tribune version was edited - this Washington Post version is longer.<br><br><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A34654-2004May17.html" target="_blank">http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...2004May17.html</a><br><br><br>
while her husband, Roy, carried their 20-month-old son, David. "Just carrying the baby is no bother. It's more personal."</div>
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I think this is the kicker.. they don't see the baby as a bother.. carrying it or caring FOR it.<br><br>
The attitude I hear in many mainstream locations is the baby is such a problem, bother, annoyance, just want to get my life back, my body back.. etc, etc.<br><br>
Excellent article, thanks for posting!
 

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about "carrying the baby being no bother"...has anyone ever wondered why so many mothers cart around those heavy, awkward baby bucket car seats with a newborn in them? i tried carrying it once, and it was like, "no way! i'll just carry the baby, thanks!" those things are so freakin awkward, how hard is it to carry a 8 lb baby, or for that matter, a 25 lb toddler occasionally?
 
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