n Conflict Trends - The Kenya state's fear of Somalia identity

Volume 2015, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1561-9818


Just as Somalia has begun "to lift itself from the ashes and debris of war", perceptions of Somali identity in Kenya have reached a new low. Even from before Kenya's independence, suspicion of the background, political opinions and citizenship of Kenyan-Somalis plagued Kenya's development, and this suspicion has now merged with an arrative of foreign terrorism that pits Kenyan-Somalis against their own nation-state. How has this come about, and what does it mean for Kenya's fight against terrorism? In this article, I argue that the inability of the Kenyan state to distinguish between Somali Islamists and Kenyan-Somalis represents a missed opportunity at national integration. Specifically, the move towards a federal Somalia of autonomous regions should assuage old Kenyan fears of Somali irredentism and desires for secession. Kenyan-Somalis are too readily being associated with coastal Muslim appeals for secession, even though citizens close to the Kenya-Somalia border no longer show interest in political victories at the expense of socio-economic well-being.

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