Since independence from Great Britain in 1963, Kenya has survived five decades as a functioning nation-state, holding regular elections; its borders and political system intact and avoiding open war with its neighbours and military rule internally. It has been a favoured site for Western aid, trade, investment and tourism and has remained a close security partner for Western governments. However, Kenya's successive governments have failed to achieve adequate living conditions for most of its citizens; violence, corruption and tribalism have been ever-present, and its politics have failed to transcend its history. The decisions of the early years of independence and the acts of its leaders in the decades since have changed the country's path in unpredictable ways, but key themes of conflicts remain: over land, money, power, economic policy, national autonomy and the distribution of resources between classes and communities. While the country's political institutions have remained stable, the nation has changed, its population increasing nearly five-fold in five decades.
But the economic and political elite's struggle for state resources and the exploitation of ethnicity for political purposes still threaten the country's existence. Today, Kenyans are arguing over many of the issues that divided them 50 years ago. The new constitution promulgated in 2010 provides an opportunity for national renewal, but it must confront a heavy legacy of history. This book reveals that history.
Charles Hornsby is an international manager with a multinational corporation. He completed his D.Phil. on Kenyan politics at St Antony’s College, Oxford in 1986, and has since combined a professional career in information technology with a deep engagement with Kenya. He has published several articles on Kenyan politics and co-authored with David Throup the influential Multi-Party Politics in Kenya (1998). He has been a journalist or election observer during most of Kenya’s recent elections and lived and worked in Ghana in 1995–8 and Kenya in 1999–2001. He currently lives in Ireland.
'Hornsby documents the roots of Kenya’s problems since Independence and shows how a select group of elite Kenyans conspired with Western powers to deny Kenya a true rebirth.'
'[Charles Hornsby] writes as the political economist that he is, with an easy grasp of all the interconnected strands of his subject.'
'[A] monumental work... Hornsby has produced a work of immense erudition...’
'...Through his formidable command of the material, Hornsby manages to convey the complexity of a society dogged by enervating institutions and their persistent abuse by venal government officials...'
'...An impressive tome which delves in detail into the last 50 years of Kenya’s complex political history.'
'The definitive study of independent Kenya. Charles Hornsby has an encyclopaedic knowledge of Kenyan politics and politicians.'
David Throup Senior Associate, African Program, The Center for Strategic and International Studies Washington DC
'To explain the ambiguities in the Kenyan nation and state is not easy. But with great thoroughness, edged with sometimes startling insight, Charles Hornsby has done just that.'
John Lonsdale, Emeritus Professor of Modern African History, University of Cambridge
'Charles Hornsby has followed Kenya intensely for decades and watched the twists and turns of its dramatic politics. His account is a grand narrative, full of sharp insights.'
Richard Dowden, Chairman of the Royal African Society
'In this pioneering, comprehensive, historical narrative of Kenya since independence, Hornsby focuses on the dynamics of how Kenyans have acted as a nation-state and the driving forces behind their determined quest to be masters of their own destiny... A valuable addition to understanding the complex trajectories of contemporary Kenyan society.'
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co LtdHardback
Publication Date: 18 Dec 2011
Number of Pages: 736
Publication Date: 28 Feb 2013
Number of Pages: 976