Kenya and the Politics of a Postcolony

Kenya and the Politics of a Postcolony

By Shadrack W. Nasong'o

Anthem Advances in African Cultural Studies

This book examines the governance and politics of Kenya since independence with a particular focus on the betrayal by the political class of the aspirations of anticolonial nationalism.

Hardback, 250 Pages


April 2023

£80.00, $125.00

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About This Book

This book sets out to probe, explore, and evaluate the betrayal of nationalism in Kenya. Contemporary Kenya’s emergence is rooted in the colonial enterprise, its deleterious effects, and the subsequent decolonization spearheaded by a fierce anti-colonial nationalism that was embodied in the Mau Mau war. As a settler colony, the colonial settlers hived off millions of hectares of the best land in the highland areas of Kenya and appropriated them for themselves thereby generating a large mass of the landless. This land alienation constituted one of the most deeply felt grievances which, together with the exclusivist, exploitative, and oppressive colonial system, inflamed anti-colonial nationalism that undergirded the struggle for independence. The expectation on the part of the masses was that independence will bring about social justice, restitution of the stolen lands, and a government based on the will and aspirations of the governed. Political developments soon after independence, however, demonstrated the extent of betrayal of the cause of anti-colonial nationalism, which has remained the reality to date. This book covers the extent of this sense of betrayal from the time of independence to the present. It begins by locating contemporary Kenya within the colonial context then proceeds to thematic issues of betrayal including the fall out between President Kenyatta and Vice President Odinga over ideology and issues of development, which constituted the first betrayal; the scourge of bureaucratic corruption and rent seeking; the question of land and associated historical injustices; and electoral malpractice since the return of multiparty politics in 1992 to the most recent elections of 2017. The implications of these dynamics for the future of the Kenyan polity are delineated and discussed.


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Author Information

Wanjala S. Nasong’o is Professor of International Studies at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, USA, where he teaches courses in comparative politics and international relations.


Anthem Advances in African Cultural Studies

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; Introduction; 1. A Pernicious Global Enterprise: The Roots of Colonialism; 2. The Making of Contemporary Kenya: The Colonial Context; 3. Independence and the First Betrayal: Kenyatta vs. Odinga; 4.Abetting Authoritarianism: The Role of the United States; 5. Inklings of True Nationalism: Chelagat Mutai and the ‘Bearded Sisters’; 6. National Betrayal: Bureaucratic Corruption and Rent Seeking; 7. Broken Promises: Historical Injustices and the Land Question; 8. Not Yet Democracy: Electoral Shenanigans and Democratic Reversal; 9. Mortgaged to China: A New Colonialism?; Bibliography; Index.


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