Kenya After 50 pp 165-187 | Cite as

Kenya at Fifty and the Betrayal of Nationalism: The Paradoxes of Two Family Dynasties

  • Wanjala S. Nasong’o
Part of the African Histories and Modernities book series (AHAM)


The fight for political independence in Kenya was waged on many fronts—the cultural, the social, the political, the economic, and the military—and by multiple social forces—individual and corporate, ethnic and religious, as well as regional and transregional. Nevertheless, in spite of the multiple identity groups involved in the struggle for independence, they all found common ground in anticolonial nationalism and harnessed unity that mirrored the dictum: “we either hang together or are hanged separately.” The urgent sense of purpose on the part of these anticolonial nationalists was almost contagious. Yet, within the first decade of independence, the sense of unity and collective purpose irreparably atrophied and by the end of the decade it had virtually died. Over five decades since independence, Kenya is much less of a nation than it was in 1963. The erstwhile objective of “nation-building” has largely been betrayed. This chapter sets out to probe, explore, and analyze this betrayal of anticolonial nationalism in Kenya, and evaluate its consequences for the future of the country. The chapter proceeds by focusing on the paradoxes inherent in the relationship between two political families—the Odingas and the Kenyattas—whose political dynamics have, to a large extent, defined what ought to have been and what actually is, in the Kenyan body politic.


International Criminal Court Vice President Liberal Democratic Party Constitutional Amendment Political Independence 
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© Wanjala S. Nasong’o 2016

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