The Crisis of Governance: Politics and Ethnic Conflict in Kenya

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Moi University. Center for Refugee Studies
Moi University Press

The most pronounced characteristics of Kenya's governance since independence in 1963 are ethnicity, ethnic conflict and the politics of patronage and clientelism. Today, Kenya is more ethnically divided than it has ever been before in the history of its existence. In the last decade, for instance, ethnic violence erupted in seven of the country's eight provinces, claiming several hundreds of lives and displacing thousands of others. The persistence of ethnic conflicts in Kenya is unsettling. Apart from the fact that these conflicts lead to insecurity and loss of many lives and property, they also cast doubts about the efficacy of governance and a serious uncertainty regarding the prospects of democracy in the country. From an academic point of view the situation calls for a reassessment of existing views about ethnicity and its relations with politics. This research conducts a contextual and empirical analysis of the phenomenon of ethnicity, ethnic conflict and its relations with the processes of governance and constitutional reform. The objectives of this study were to: analyze ethnicity in the context of the political landscape in Kenya, establish links between economic, social, political and ethnic conflicts, examine how ethnic conflicts have been managed, and assess the influence of ethnicity on the ongoing constitutional reform and the debate on the presidential succession. This study gathered primary data through field surveys in areas that have experienced ethnic conflicts since 1990. Field interviews were carried out with respondents selected from victims of ethnic violence, politicians, lawyers, and officials of government, NGOs, churches, and civil societies. The study uses secondary data from relevant published works. The study concludes with an analysis of the implications of ethnicity and ethnic conflicts for the ongoing constitution reform process and draws theoretical and empirical conclusions regarding Kenya's experiences with ethnicity and ethnic conflicts, and recommends what should be done to reconcile competing ethnicity with responsible citizenship for the purpose of enhancing democratic governance.

Kenya, Ethnic conflict, Political violence
Chelanga, J.K.,Ndege, P. O., and Singo, S.M. (2009). The Crisis of Governance: Politics and Ethnic Conflict in Kenya. Moi University Press.