The power-sharing agreement that ended Kenya’s post-election violence in 2008 defined a broad program of political and social reform. As part of this process, in August 2010 Kenya adopted a new constitution. A critical aim of this reform is to disperse the power of the presidency to end the country’s “winner-takes-all” political culture and the corrosive politics of ethnic competition and violence it fosters.
Implementing the new constitution – which defines respect for diversity as a core national value – is the next difficult step.
In 2003, an international pollster declared Kenyans the most optimistic people in the world. The Moi regime had ended, a new inter-ethnic “Rainbow Coalition” had just been elected, and a populist constitutional reform process promised to restore liberal democracy.
And yet, five years later, the country erupted in violence. The crisis left over a thousand dead and many more homeless. An internationally brokered Reconciliation Accord ended the crisis and launched Kenyans on another phase of reform.
Kenya’s new constitution – which enshrines respect for diversity as a national value – is an achievement and a reason for optimism. But transforming decades of divide-and-rule politics presents a major challenge.
Our work in Kenya
In December 2011, the Katiba Institute and the Global Centre for Pluralism organized a roundtable with selected civil society leaders. The papers and discussion emerging from that meeting inspired the publication in 2013 of Ethnicity, Nationhood and Pluralism: Kenyan Perspectives. Co-published by the Centre and the Katiba Institute, the volume is edited by Yash Pal Ghai and Jill Cottrell Ghai and features essays by the editors, Karuti Kanyinga and Zein Abubakar.
The book is available now in Nairobi. Books launches have been held in Nairobi [right], Mombasa and Kisumu.
Katiba Institute is a civil society initiative established to support understanding and implementation of the 2010 Kenyan constitution. Visit the Katiba Institute to learn more about its work.