Political liberalization in Africa is a more problematic process than earlier thought. Powerful actors will attempt to maintain patrimonial control by developing creative counter-strategies to change. When faced with declining patronage resources, they will find alternative sources, often amplifying corruption and violence in the process. This paper provides a concrete example of this dynamic through an examination of Kenya's land grabbing—the irregular privatization of public lands. It argues that president Moi and his clients are increasingly and violently turning to public lands, which are less fettered by international scrutiny, as a patronage resource and instrument to maintain control. In response, many Kenyans are resisting this form of corruption and in the process are constructing a notion of the public that challenges the rules of the patrimonial game.