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The politics of control in Kenya : understanding the bureaucratic-executive state, 1952–78

By Daniel Branch and Nicholas Cheeseman


Colonial rule in Kenya witnessed the emergence of a profoundly unbalanced institutional landscape. With all capacity resided in a strong prefectural provincial administration, political parties remained underdeveloped. The co-option of sympathetic African elites during the colonial twilight into the bureaucracy, the legislature and the private property-based economy meant that the allies of colonialism and representatives of transnational capital were able to reap the benefits of independence. In the late colonial period these elites not only attained the means of production, they also assumed the political and institutional capacity to reproduce their dominance. The post-colonial state must therefore be seen as a representation of the interests protected and promoted during the latter years of colonial rule. Under Jomo Kenyatta, the post-colonial state represented a ‘pact-of-domination’ between transnational capital, the elite and the executive. The ability of this coalition to reproduce itself over time lay in its capacity to demobilise popular forces, especially those elements of the nationalist movement that questioned both the social and economic cleavages of the post-colonial state. Whilst Kenya may have experienced changes to both the executive and legislature, the structure of the state itself has demonstrated remarkable continuity

Topics: DT, JQ
Publisher: Routledge
Year: 2006
DOI identifier: 10.1080/03056240600671183
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