Ethnicity and Politics in Kenya’s Turbulent Path to Democracy and Development

Öz Thisarticle examines the manifestation of ethnicity in Kenyan politics and itsimpact on Kenya’s democratic path and development. It questions the salience ofethnicity in politics and traces the origin of ethnic consciousness to thecolonial era. Efforts by the successive regimes to advance a national identityhave proved futile as all of them have worked to calcify it through itsexploitation and politicization. We utilize an intersection of theoreticalapproaches to zoom in on the overwhelming nature of ethnicity in politics. Thecrux of our argument is that ethnicity has, over time, been used for by the self-aggrandizingpolitical elite for self-serving interests and it is our opinion that thehistoric handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and the former PrimeMinister Raila Odinga provided another unique opportunity for de-ethicisingKenya’s politics and for strengthening the existing institution.

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