Ethnicity and Politics in Kenya

  • Jacob Mwathi MatiEmail author
Reference work entry


Instrumentalized ethnic identity has been a key variable in the mobilization and molding of Kenyan politics since Britain’s colonial divide and rule policies imposed ethnic and racial dualism that emphasized difference. At independence, the post-colonial elite did not dismantle the structural architecture of ethnic-based politics. Ethnic identity therefore remains the basis for mobilization and structuring of politics in contemporary Kenya. This dominance of ethnic-based politics, though explained variously, is a product of the conflation of political economy-induced interests where elites instrumentalize ethnicity in political mobilization to ensure their own survival and reproduction.


Ethnicity Instrumentalized ethnic identity Politics Ethnic-based politics Political mobilization Political violence Inter-ethnic violence Primordialism Kenya 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Law and Education (FALE)The University of the South PacificSuvaFiji Islands
  2. 2.Society, Work and Politics (SWOP) InstituteThe University of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

Section editors and affiliations

  • Joseph Rudolph
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceTowson UniversityTowsonUSA

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