Violence and Politics in Kenya's Uncivil Society

Filmed 7 May 2009 (1 h. 50 min.).

The post-electoral violence of January and February 2008 alerted the world to the fragility of Kenya’s transition to multi-party democracy. This lecture will survey the main events in Kenya’s politics since the settlement arbitrated by Kofi Annan, putting in place a ‘grand coalition’ government under Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga. It will be demonstrated that this has halted Kenya’s transition to democracy, replacing it with a system of competitive authoritarianism in which the ability to mobilize violence is the key determinant of political participation. The evolution of ‘gang culture’ will be described, including the most recent violence that has seen the police and apparently independent ‘community militias’ mount a systematic assault upon the criminal network known as Mungiki. The lecture will also consider the issues of extrajudicial killings, the rule of law, and the culture of impunity.
David Anderson is Professor in African Politics and Director of the African Studies Centre at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of St Cross College, Oxford. He researches and writes on the history and politics of eastern Africa.
Shailja Patel is a Kenyan poet, playwright, and political activist, and currently Guest Writer at the Nordic Africa Institute.

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