n Journal of African Elections - Ethnicity and political pluralism in Kenya

Volume 7, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1609-4700



This paper focuses on the salience of ethnicity in Kenya since the return to political pluralism in 1991. It argues that ethnicity as a variable in Kenya's political processes dates back to the colonial period. Successive governments in that country, beginning with the Jomo Kenyatta state in 1963, perfected the aspect of ethnicity that dovetailed with patronage, rent-seeking and prebendalism to the detriment of the nation state. The paper engages with the theoretical underpinnings of ethnicity in an attempt to understand its overwhelming influence on Kenya's politics, especially in the multiparty era. The thrust of the argument is that unless there is the political will to re-engineer Kenya's polity both politically and constitutionally the nationbuilding project will remain convoluted, frustrating and stillborn.

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