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Ethnic Diversity in Eastern Africa

Opportunities and Challenges

Kimani Njogu, Kabiri Ngeta

Publication Year: 2010

In most of Africa, there is evidence of politicised inter-ethnic rivalry and ethnic mobilisation to acquire, maintain or monopolise power as competition for resources intensify. This volume demonstrates how ethnic diversity can be managed at a number of levels in order to improve the lives of citizens. As the contributors show, ethnicity as an identity is fluid and malleable. It can be deconstructed in order to reduce its saliency. Evidently, strong ethnic affliation has also been viewed as a major barrier to human and economic development although ethnically bound welfare organisations do influence the economic and social life of citizens especially in the rural areas, In most of Africa, it is through ethnic identification that competition for influence in the state and in the allocation of resources becomes apparent. Occasionally, governments have sought to address this challenge through ethnic and regional balancing in political appointments. But this does not always work. Drawing on experiences from Eastern Africa and beyond, the contributors discuss how ethnic diversity can be a resource for the region.

Published by: African Books Collective

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-ii


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pp. iii-iv

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pp. v-vi

The discourses of solidarity, as encapsulated in nationalism and ethnicity, and their role in shaping events in Africa have continued to be of interest to scholars of politics and development. In most of Africa, the discursive energies harnessed during the struggle for independence have dissipated and the disillusionment with the performance of the state, seen as a venal...

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A Prologue to Ethnic Diversity in Eastern Africa

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pp. vii-xvii

The December 27th 2007 general elections in Kenya were the tenth since the country attained sovereign status in 1963. Between June 1963, when Kenya achieved self government, to December 2002, when the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) won the elections, the country was ruled by the Kenya African National Union (KANU). ...

Conceptualizing Ethnicity

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Ethnic Pluralism and National Governance in Africa: A Survey

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pp. 3-17

At the height of the post-conflict violence in Kenya early in 2008, the noted New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof visited Kenya and described (in the Times issue of February 21, 2008) the most gruesome human butchery in what he referred to as savage “primeval tribal tensions that threaten Kenya’s future”. Like many others before him, he concluded that tribalism is the...

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What Do We Share?: From the Local to the Global, and Back Again

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pp. 19-39

Throughout the centuries, human beings have created binaries, devising images of themselves as against those of others. They have embedded each other’s images in their thoughts, their stories, songs, and other forms of artistic expression. The nature of these images has varied according to the interests of those involved and the contexts in which they lived. ...

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Production of Ethnic Identity in Kenya

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pp. 41-54

Human beings have, through space and time, used numerous markers of identity to distinguish themselves from the next person or group. These markers include one’s name, which is given at birth, a few days after birth or through rituals like baptism; the sex and age of a person both of which are biologically determined although one can cross-dress, undergo sex-change...

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Links Between African Proverbs and Sayings and Ethnic Diversity

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pp. 55-60

A proverb (and other forms of African oral literature) has been described as “a window into the African worldview.” Many African proverbs and sayings were sprinkled throughout the presentations, discussions and informal conversations at our conference on “Ethnic Diversity in Eastern Africa: Opportunities and Challenges.” ...

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(Over)riding the Rainbow: Ethnic Diversity and the Kenyan Creative Economy

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pp. 61-69

The term ‘rainbow’, to denote advantages attained by bringing together multiple and diverse ethnicities, has been popularized in Kenya via politics. This chapter, using the word ‘rainbow’ in a similar sense, examines how interventions,purposeful or circumstantial, in Kenyan creative domains, have metaphorically taken hold of the rainbow of ethnic and cultural diversity, de-constructed it, contemporized it, ...

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Leveraging Africa’s Diversity for an improved Image and Branding

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pp. 71-80

The twenty-first century has presented nations of the world with unique challenges which, if not adequately and appropriately addressed, may negatively affect the livelihoods of the world’s six billion people and throw the entire world into a crisis. Already we are experiencing the effects of global warming, international terrorism...

Ethnicity in Politics

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Ethnic Diversity, Democratization and Nation-Building in Ghana

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pp. 83-103

The processes of creating the single geo-political entity known as Ghana out of hitherto multiple, diverse and independent ethnic states have been well told elsewhere and do not bear a detailed exposition here: colonial conquest, subjugation, purchase, trickery and domination.1 Virtually all African countries, with the exception of Ethiopia and Liberia...

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Ethnic Diversity in East Africa: The Tanzanian Case and the Role of Kiswahili Language as a Unifying Factor

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pp. 105-120

Ethnic distinction can be based on language, geography or kinship. It is a form of identity. This chapter attempts to discuss some social factors useful in the process of building national identity, peace and political stability. It explores the development of Kiswahili from a historical and anthropological point of view including how the language has been developed in Tanzania. ...

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Critical Reflections on the Challenges and Prospects of Ethnic Diversity Management in Democratization

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pp. 121-140

An increasing number of countries are beginning to appreciate and value the richness and strength imparted by cultural and ethnic diversity. Nevertheless, idiosyncratic histories of African countries have shaped contemporary politics and inter-ethnic relations in these countries in a negative sense. For effective development policies to be formulated that meet accepted principles...

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Media and National Identity: Should National Media be Relegated to the Backseat?

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pp. 141-160

This chapter explores media’s influence in creating national identity, particularly focusing on “national media”. With the changes in media structures resulting from globalization and the rise of computer mediated communication (CMC), the question of interest is whether national media are still of relevance today or should they be relegated to the backseat. ...

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Ethnic Diversity Background and Issues: The Case of Rwanda

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pp. 161-182

It is impossible to deal with the ethnic diversity issues after genocide in Rwanda in 1994 without considering historical flash backs that could shed some light and indicate what characterised the country at its different stages of state formation. It is in that history that one sees the social, political and economic developments and the evolution of social diversity...

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The Challenges of Ethnicity, Multiparty Democracy and State Building in Multiethnic States in Africa: Experiences from Kenya

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pp. 183-200

During the 1990s, a wave of change in the form of political reforms swept through the world and modified the political terrain of many states. In Kenya, the late 1980s and the 1990s marked a period of struggle for democratization and change including reverting to multiparty politics championed by groups and individuals in civil society. Indeed, this was the decade of democratization...

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A Political Economy of Land Reform in Kenya: the Limits and Possibilities of Resolving Persistent Ethnic Conflicts

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pp. 201-219

A high economic growth rate of 7 per cent per annum in the 1960s and the consequent social investments by the post-independence state in Kenya were underpinned by agrarian and land reform programmes that sought to redress historical injustices and consequently to restructure agrarian relations. Its limited success was due to the conjuncture of both external and internal...

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Epilogue — Emerging Issues in Managing the Challenges and Opportunities of Ethnic Diversity in East Africa: Is Good Governance the Destiny?

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pp. 221-233

The essays in this volume raise pertinent issues on the question of ethnicity in Africa, East Africa and Kenya in particular. They address the question of the challenges and opportunities of ethnic diversity in Eastern Africa, with a view to understanding, supposedly, a malice that afflicts Africa with adverse consequences. The essays cover a wide range of themes, from the nature of...

Notes on Contributors

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pp. 234

E-ISBN-13: 9789966028068
Print-ISBN-13: 9789966724489

Page Count: 254
Publication Year: 2010

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Ethnicity -- Africa, Eastern -- Congresses.
  • Africa, Eastern -- Ethnic relations -- Congresses.
  • Africa, Eastern -- Politics and government -- 1960- -- Congresses.
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