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In 1996, in his groundbreaking work entitled The Two Faces of Civil Society: NGOs and Politics in Africa, Stephen Ndegwa discovered inherent contradictions in the quest to hold the African state accountable. His study, a comparative analysis of two Kenyan NGOs, the Green Belt Movement and the Undugu Society of Kenya, found that in Africa, civil society either resists or yields freely to a despotic state. (1) This article borrows a leaf from Ndegwa's thesis in its examination of social movements and collective action; it begins from the premise that the consequences of opposing the state in Africa are similarly contradictory. It extends the understanding of civil society to the community and focuses on the Luo of Kenya as a subject of analysis.

I have chosen the Luo as a case study for numerous reasons. First, under their de facto leader Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, (2) the Luo were the first Kenyan community to actively and demonstrably voice and display discontent about "new forms of political oppression, social injustice, corruption and the arrogance of political power in the hands of the Kenyatta-led independent Kenya's ruling elites that started to make life difficult for the ordinary African human being" (3) soon after Kenya's independence in 1963. Second, ever since the Kenyatta-Odinga fallout of 1966, (4) the result of different perspectives on life--Kenyatta's influenced by "individual enterprise and personal virtue," and Odinga's by "clan-based communocratic and egalitarian values plus a tradition of resistance to authoritarianism of any sort" (5)--the Luo have consistently been at loggerheads with the Kenyan state and have been largely excluded politically as a consequence of this enmity. Third, when "state oppression by [Kenya's] dictatorial ruler [Moi], especially during the Cold War, precipitated a prevalent culture of fear and silence," the Luo, particularly through the failed coup attempt of 1982, expressed "the outcry of citizens over gross violations of human rights." (6) Fourth, when the third wave of democratization began to roll across Sub-Saharan Africa in the early 1990s, the Luo community, under the guidance of Kenya's doyen of opposition politics, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, was at the forefront of advocating for the restoration of multiparty democracy in Kenya. (7)

Fifth, Luo leadership was instrumental in bringing to an end the 40-year reign of Kenya's independence party, the Kenya African National Union (KANU). Indeed, as Walter Oyugi, Peter Wanyande and Crispin Odhiambo-Mbai have noted, "it was [Luo politician and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga's son] Raila Odinga's 'blessing' that had assured Mwai Kibaki of the joint opposition's nomination in the 'transitional election' of 2002." (8) Raila Odinga's gesture led "to a virtual walkover and the promise of tangible change' in the lives of ordinary Kenyans." (9) Sixth, during the disputed 2007 general elections in Kenya, which were characterized by violence, the Luo, under "Raila Odinga, the main opposition leader representing the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM)" were at the center of events that included "civil unrest... in Western Kenya to protest against reporting delays in some districts." (10) Seventh, during the 2010 referendum, the Luo community, alongside others, voted overwhelmingly for Kenya's new constitution. (11) Eighth, in contemporary times, when "democracy in Africa... features semi-competitive elections that retain and entrench neo-patrimonialism and old networks of elite domination," (12) the Luo, under the stewardship of the Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga and through collective action such as the 2016 protests against the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) that succeeded in bringing to a halt the term of office of top officials in Kenya's electoral body, have continuously fought for social transformation. (13)

The Luo have consistently been in the vanguard of democratic/political social movements and collective action in Kenya, and even as it looks to highlight the contradictions inherent in these movements and actions, this article is driven by the broad objective of establishing the consequences for Kenya, in general, and for the Luo as a community, of perceived or real involvement in social movements. It poses the following questions: How have antagonistic relations between the government of Kenya and the Luo, which have frequently manifested themselves through social movements and collective action against the government, influenced the socioeconomic development of Kenya in general and that of the Luo community in particular? From the Luo perspective, what are the socioeconomic consequences of opposing the Kenyan state? Because of the despotic nature of the African state, as partly narrated above, and in acknowledgement of the argument that social movements and collective action could well be "foreign funded agents of the opposition," (14) this study is situated within the "neoliberal--predatory state dialectic," which I will discuss further after an examination of contemporary literature on social movements and collective action. But first, I briefly outline the neoliberal perspective of the state and development.


In its attempt to explain international order, the neoliberal paradigm grounds itself in three broad assumptions: first, that "the sub-units of the larger world-system acquire their defining properties prior to their participation in the international system"; (15) second, that "states interact to maximize [their] given power and economic interests"; (16) and, third, that the result "of these international interactions (whether economic, political, or cultural)... is some kind of international order, which takes the most prominent utilitarian forms: contract and division of labor." (17) These suppositions are firmly embodied in two closely related theories of international relations: the realist theory, which "argues that the international state system is a product of struggles for power between sovereign states in a condition of international anarchy"; (18) and the world-system theory, which sees the planet "as developed and underdeveloped states, or zones, the interaction of which, through unequal exchange processes, produces a global core-periphery of labor." (19) My analysis in this study is guided by these two theories of international relations.

Peter Evans thoroughly analyzed the neoliberal perspective of the state and development, the logic that dominated discourse on economic development during the late 1970s and much of the 1980s, in his acclaimed work Embedded Autonomy: States and Industrial Transformation. (20) Neoliberal theorists, Evans argued, were completely against the state and castigated it vehemently, oftentimes in a subjective way. Their motivation arose from the fact that most African states were dismally failing to meet the expectations of their citizens in the postcolonial era. These theorists did not spare Latin America either; they argued that economic stagnation in that part of the world was the result of "bloated state apparatuses." (21) Even where greedy politicians and bureaucrats should have taken the blame, says Evans, this lot of analysts took advantage and opted to use the behavior of these two entities as an opportunity to attack the state.

At the core of the neoliberal argument was the contention that incumbents seldom act in pursuit of the common good of their society; rather, their actions are largely motivated by the desire to please and reward their supporters. (22) Neoliberal theorists contended that in their quest to cling to power, incumbents ensure that resources such as "subsidies, loans, jobs, contracts, or the provision of services" are shunted directly to their enthusiasts; they also "use their rulemaking authority to create rents for favored groups by restricting the ability of market forces to operate." (23)

Neoliberal theorists found repugnant other actions of incumbents, which they saw as ways of "creating rents." These actions included the following: "rationing foreign exchange, restricting entry through licensing producers, and instituting tariffs or quarantine restrictions on imports." (24) So evil was the state in the eyes of the scholars of the neoliberal ilk that they argued that in many parts of the Global South there was a struggle to obtain employment in the civil service because this would guarantee the concerned parties some rent. (25) Since the production process became overwhelmingly characterized by entities seeking corruptly acquired wealth, they contended, economic competence and vitality deteriorated. (26) So what solution did the neoliberal theorists offer?

To these thinkers, the alternative route to development entailed dismantling government bureaucracies to solve the rent-seeking issue and deserting the state as the driver of development. (27) The task of development would be given to the market, which had to be liberalized through the formulation and adoption of a collection of policies constructed on the basis of utmost faith in market forces--neoliberalism. (28) Such is the nature of the neoliberal perspective of the state, and its agenda, the lens through which this study approaches and scrutinizes literature on social movements and collective action.


Contemporary research on social movements and collective action, especially on the Global South, has mainly focused on three broad themes: technology; gender/women's issues; and the expression of ambiguity, frustration, and challenges--and the need for social activists and social movements to use nuanced approaches--owing to changes in political contexts, such as the end of apartheid in South Africa.

During the first two decades of the twenty-first century, and especially since the 2011 Arab Spring, researchers of social movements have given much attention to the significance of new media technologies for those who facilitate collective action. (29) Such researchers, who have mainly analyzed countries of the Global South, have emerged with various insightful and interesting findings and conclusions. Social media, for instance, has been singled out as a contributing factor to the most successful social movements in Egypt, such as the Kefaya movement and the Arabic Facebook page titled We are all Khaled Said. Merlyna Lim has argued that it facilitated the expansion of networks to disgruntled Egyptians, the coordination of activists' endeavors and negotiations, and the ability of opposition leaders in the north African country to reach a worldwide audience. (30) Analysts have also concluded that the 2009 G20 London Summit protests were largely effective and considerably stronger because of digital media, which helped personalize the process of network coordination, thus ensuring high engagement levels and a more focused agenda. (31) It has also been opined that "as critical citizenry, Chinas netizens constitute a new social force challenging authoritarian rule." (32) Some have observed that "governments are taking unprecedented steps to control online speech, including intercepting passwords to social network services, as in Tunisia, and shutting down the entire Internet, as in Libya and Egypt." (33) In response to such state machinations, Sarah Kendzior has recommended, among other things, that concerned parties in Uzbekistan need to take measures to establish circumvention efforts, such as proxy servers and anonymizers, and that activists in the country should be trained in encryption techniques. (34) In findings that could perhaps allay the concerns and anxieties of paranoid governments, Katy E. Pearce and Sarah Kendzior have argued that "the diffusion of digital media does not always have democratic consequences" and that "access to the Internet [does not necessarily] encourage support for dissent." (35) Although the analytical discourse regarding the role of technology in social movements and collective action has been varied and exciting, it stops short of linking these movements to possible external neoliberal forces.

The debate with regard to women has been equally expansive and rousing. Women's rights issues cut across many themes, including disability, peace-building, indigenous people's movements, domestic workers' organizations, the lesbian, bisexual and transgender movement, and the role of mothers in society. (36) Of particular note with regard to feminism is a collection of articles that highlights the contradictions inherent in the push for gender equality in the Islamic context of Southeast Asia and the Middle East. (37) Another important aspect of the scholarship and advocacy on social movements pertaining to women is "women[s'] empowerment, political participation, and representation." (38) Scholars have emphasized finding mechanisms to "facilitate women's representation in decision-making processes within the context of current socio-economic and political transformations." (39) International bodies such as the United Nations have attached great importance to women's "political participation and leadership at the international, national, regional and local levels." (40) Other issues pertaining to women's empowerment and gender equality include reducing poverty and hunger; (41) jobs, food security, reproductive and maternal health, and investment in women; (42) and education and access to resources for both girls and women. (43) All of these initiatives are noble, and I contend that if similar efforts were put forward by concerned parties to confront neoliberalism, especially at the global level of policymaking, insofar as neoliberalism stands in the way of socioeconomic justice for the world's largely impoverished masses--regardless of "ethnicity," "race," gender, or religion--humanity would make greater strides toward bettering the lives of the planet's citizenry.

The third category of literature on social movements and collective action addresses neoliberalism, arguing that the economic philosophy has played a primary role in frustrating attempts to achieve social justice, especially in the Global South. (44) The contention is that formalized racial discrimination and associated race-based socioeconomic inequalities have now been overcome, at least on paper, in the Global South. Moreover, so the argument goes, the leaders of past social movements that were framed around issues of race-based socioeconomic injustices and inequalities are now in power (as in the cases of South Africa and Zimbabwe). However, despite the ascendancy to governance of black leaders in those two states, prevailing socioeconomic conditions are such that the masses in these countries remain largely oppressed. (45) An African Nobel laureate perspicaciously described the root cause of this strange paradox:
[The] indebtedness of African states is making it difficult for the
state to protect its citizen from being overwhelmed by international
organizations on whose behalf IMF, World Bank and other donors demand
liberalization and free markets. Small local initiatives with
comparatively little capital do not stand a chance against the
onslaught.... What is the reason for this economic marginalization and
impoverishment of Africa? It is partly because many [states] do not
participate in formulating and implementing their development policies.
Decisions which affect their economic and political life are made by
others in foreign capitals in the company of a few of their ruling
elites. These are the policies and decisions which facilitate the
siphoning of their wealth, literally from under their feet. In the
process they are marginalized and disempowered economically, denied
access to information, knowledge and resources and forced to over mine
their environment[,] thereby jeopardizing even their future
generations. (46)

This paradox has predisposed contemporary social movement and collective action adherents and analysts to a state of ambiguity about the way forward, as is discernable in literature on South Africa and Zimbabwe. (47) Even leading analysts, in their bids to make sense of the fee protests by South African university students in 2015 and 2016, remain noncommittal about the frameworks they have developed in their analyses of the emerging phenomenon. (48) The uncertainty is such that "the key question for both analysts and activists in Zimbabwe today is that of whether contemporary Zimbabwe is conducive to the building of social movements." (49) Yet this observation is paradoxical, for "there is undoubtedly increased grievance due to the worsening of the economic and social crises [in Zimbabwe]" (50)--a situation in which collective action and social movements should thrive. The prevalent contradiction in Zimbabwe is reinforced by the fact that the country's citizens, including social activists, are generally disenchanted. (51) The great dilemma and disorientation among social movement activists and analysts, arising from the failure of yesteryear activists to utilize state power to benefit their people, has led to a call for innovative ways of framing collective action. Notable among these is the endorsement of campaigns organized around neighborhood issues such as access to water, electricity, and housing as a way of ensuring that socioeconomic justice is obtained and state-driven privatization is countered. (52)

There is no doubt that scholars of social movements and collective action appreciate the importance of neoliberalism; however, there is a hint of hesitance with regard to further theorization and conceptualization of such studies through the lens of the perceived and real effects of the free market ideology. Perhaps African scholars themselves are disillusioned with the stagnation and/or deterioration in the socioeconomic conditions of the continent's citizens despite the fact that postcolonial African leadership is now firmly established in black hands. It may be a discouraging factor that it is no longer tenable to uncritically castigate the West for the continent's woes.

Nonetheless, it is my contention that the analysis of social movements through the neoliberal lens, could still play a key role in filling knowledge gaps. More important, social movement and collective action researchers should remain concerned about the free market ideology for two reasons. First, although its prominence has increasingly waned, (53) the neoliberal vision continues to have a profoundly negative influence on the structure of society on a global scale. Indeed, global corporations have grown in an unprecedented manner: entities such as Wal-Mart and Cargill have become much wealthier than many nation-states. At the individual level, the rich are getting richer as the poor are getting poorer. (54) Contrary to the belief of the adherents of trickle-down economics, free market liberalism has not worked to improve the conditions of the poor in society. (55) In fact, laissez-faire-driven capitalism has largely led to the formation of two distinct classes in society--a tiny dominant minority and an overwhelmingly subordinate majority. (56) We are witnessing in contemporary times what Marx highlighted in his famed masterpieces--infinite accumulation. Second, the world economic system can be said to be a hierarchy based on global division of labor. (57) While industrialized countries occupy the "most dynamic and rewarding sectoral niches," African countries are "relegated to niches that are less desirable links in a commodity chain."' (58) For the largely predatory African countries to "develop," they would have to seek upward mobility in the pecking order by engaging "in 'leading' sectors and shed [ding] 'lagging' ones." (59) Since this would have an adverse effect on the advantageous positions developed nations enjoy, it is logical to assume that the latter would seek to sabotage African states by working with the opposition parties and leaders of "dissident" communities in those states. Such is the nature of the neoliberal--predatory state dialectic.


In cognizance of the fact that leaders of the western world--from whence an overwhelming percentage of neoliberal forces derive, such as the former British High Commissioner to Kenya, Christian Turner, and United States diplomat, Ambassador Johnnie Carson--have in the recent past made public utterances suggesting a preference for Kenya's Luo-led opposition, (66) I have developed and adopted for this research the theoretical framework outlined in figure 1.

The framework this figure depicts is largely based on the principles of ex post facto research. Also referred to as "after-the-fact research," "ex post facto study... is a category of research design in which the investigation starts after the fact has occurred." (67) It is "a systematic empirical inquiry in which the [researcher] does not have direct control of [the] independent variables because their manifestations have already occurred." (68) Ex post facto research "is a substitute for true experimental research and can be used to test hypotheses about cause-and-effect or correlational relationships, where it is not practical or ethical to apply a true experimental, or even a quasi-experimental, design." (69) I have anchored my research with two premises: 1) that political marginalization and the resultant Luo social movements and collective actions, which have continuously occurred in Kenya during the country's postcolonial era, are the result of the neoliberal--predatory state dialectic; and 2) that pursuit of change through these agents could have translated into economic and sociocultural practices at the grassroots level that have had profound socioeconomic and political consequences at all levels of society. The main variable in this study is political exclusion and the resultant Luo social movements and collective action against the Kenyan state. I have considered these actions as an independent variable and as a dependent variable in relation to cultural factors, economic difficulties, "ethnic" cohesion, and minimal public investment. Figure 1 and table 1 depict how the variables I examined relate to my research hypotheses and the data I collected.


1) The Luo are gradually adopting the alien culture of circumcision because of politically constructed/mobilized stereotypes and prejudices, a tactic the Kenyan state has used to subdue their proclivity toward collective action against the country's authorities.

2) Social movements and collective action in response to political exclusion have translated into economic difficulties at the individual level for the Luo.

3) Social movements and collective action in response to political exclusion have had the unwitting effect of fostering ethnic cohesion among the Luo.

4) The Luo have endured minimal public investment from the government of Kenya because their opposition politics has the consequence of making them relatively poor compared to other communities.

5) A combination of interference from Western-based neoliberal forces in the country's affairs and Luo-led collective action against the Kenyan state has led to more meaningful and inclusive socioeconomic development in Kenya.


This is a qualitative study that draws upon focus group discussions (see Appendix for discussion questions) and an examination of independent Kenya's budget speeches (1963-2013) to test the hypotheses and find answers to the research questions advanced in the introduction. Drawing on Michel Foucault's concept of the "archaeology of power," (70) I examined these historical records to explore the trajectory that economic development and the provision of public investment has taken in Kenya vis-a-vis the opposition from the Luo community and external interference from neoliberal forces. (71) In his approach to writing history, Foucault begins by identifying the problem. He then works through historical archives of particular societies to disclose the discursive formations (or events) that have led to the field of inquiry (the problem). He refers to this method as archaeology. My analysis also derives from twenty-four focus group discussions with members of Kenya's Luo community in eight of the country's forty-seven counties--Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Uasin Gishu, Kisumu, Migori, Homa Bay, and Siaya. These discussions took place at the height and during the aftermath of the IEBC protests, during the period May to September 2016. The focus group discussion guide was modeled around the logic discussed in table 1. I crafted the questions drawing upon contemporary literature on opposition to the state related to socioeconomic development in Africa, which is often shaped along ethnic lines and takes the form of social movements and collective action. These questions were designed to explore participants' responses instead of steering them in a particular direction, as the case would be with a quantitative survey. I used purposive sampling to select the participants for the focus group discussions. In purposive sampling, "the inquirer selects individuals and sites for study because they can purposefully inform an understanding of the research problem and central phenomenon in the study." (72) I sought the participants from secondary/high schools, colleges, and universities and from marketplaces, residential areas, and villages.


The data analysis in this study has been guided by iteration, "a systematic, repetitive, and recursive process in qualitative data analysis" that "involves a sequence of tasks carried out in exactly the same manner each time and executed multiple times." (73) I have subjected the focus group discussion transcripts and the budget speeches to repeated scrutiny to establish patterns and themes with regard to the approaches and initiatives taken by the government of Kenya to develop the country's economy and western involvement or contribution in this regard. Since my aim was also to explore the Luo community's perception of the effects of opposing the state, I have also created narratives based on the responses I heard in the focus group discussions. Narrative research is "a form of inquiry in which the researcher studies the lives of individuals and asks one or more individuals to provide stories about their lives. This information is then retold or restoried by the researcher." (74)


Positive Consequences as Narrated by the Luo

The results of this study point to a singular positive consequence of the largely Luo-led political-social movements and collective action against the Kenyan state--the achievement of more accountable and equitable forms of governance in the east African country. A sizeable portion of the focus group discussion participants were of the opinion that opposition politics has led to the development, not just in Luo Nyanza, the traditional homeland of the community, but in the whole of Kenya. Most participants argued that the Luo-led struggle against the oppression of the Kenya central government has culminated in a devolution of state resources that is benefiting all citizens by ensuring that national largesse is distributed equitably. They contend that the county governments that were operationalized in 2013 have empowered citizens at the grassroots level of society by ensuring that people have greater access to electricity and clean drinking water. They also contend that this infrastructure has paved the way for the construction of better classrooms and roads at the constituency and village levels. One participant succinctly captured the role of the Luo in bringing about these new circumstances:
Devolution of state resources has been brought about by the opposition.
This opposition was driven, mainly, by one ethnic group--the Luo. The
Luo sought the support of other ethnic groups and sensitized them to
come together and call for this kind of government. (focus group
discussion with men in Homa Bay County)

An examination of the budget speeches of independent Kenya appears to support this opinion to a large extent.

The Relationship of the Provision of Public Goods and Services in Kenya to Pressure from the Luo-Led Opposition and Neoliberal Forces

Despite the jubilations that accompanied the lowering of the Union Jack and the ascendancy of the Kenyan flag in 1963, evidence from the country's budget speeches shows that it never truly became economically independent. President Jomo Kenyatta was given control over a territory whose primary role would be to produce agricultural crops for sale to European industries. No significant form of technology was transferred to the Africans. This perpetuated their state of dependency and played a huge role in preventing the country's masses from obtaining the better living standards they desired. As a result, there were colossal balance-of-payments challenges throughout Kenyatta's tenure, for Kenya's demand for capital goods far outweighed the external market for coffee and tea, its chief foreign exchange earners. Kenyatta's Kenya was, therefore, "very much at the mercy of world economic forces over which [the country had] little or no control." (75) Notably, instead of providing adequate markets for the country's produce, western countries insisted more on providing aid. (76) Through these loans, Kenya could meet its recurrent and development expenditures and finance its squatter settlement programs. Negotiations for a five-year expanded settlement scheme, in which 1,000,000 acres of land were to be transferred to squatters, had been concluded prior to independence in 1963. (77) External debt obligations arising from this "assistance" from the British, West German, and the US governments; the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development; the Colonial Development Corporation; the Commonwealth Development Corporation; the International Monetary Fund; and the World Bank crippled the country's development agenda almost in its entirety in the following decades.

Significantly, Kenyatta was quick to realize that Kenya was a banana republic. Perhaps to make it appear to Kenyans that he was in control, he moved quickly to consolidate power; he amended the Constitution to get rid of regional governments, emasculated local authorities, and heavily centralized state functions. (78) His paranoia also meant that he surrounded himself with elite members of his Kikuyu ethnic group, to whom he bequeathed "choice arable and prime coastal land... at prices below what the government had paid" (79) the British. This led to the emergence of the nationalist bourgeois class, referred to elsewhere as the "Kiambu mafia." (80) Because he commissioned Sessional Paper No. 10 of 1965, which "virtually legalized capitalism as Kenya's economic lingua franca," (81) he has been described as a "m[a]n who rule[d] Kenya... for Western interests." (82) Although he must be commended for making a fairly successful attempt to navigate the difficult course of uniting a nation divided along racial lines, at independence, he eliminated those who called for socialism in order to "neutralize Jaramogi[,] his socialist-leaning Luo deputy[,] and any opposition to those in power and their Western supporters." (83) Also, to counter the threat from Odinga's Kenya People's Union (KPU), he "extended" the "Gikuyu notion of civil society... to the political arena of the state... from 1966 to 1969," arguing that since the Luo "did not practice male circumcision," they were "not legitimate citizens of the Kenya state that he ran." (84)

Kenya's indebtedness and dependence on foreign aid worsened in the Moi era, during which the finance minister, Mwai Kibaki, "arranged with a consortium of major banks in London to provide a Euro-currency loan of $200 million to finance the import content requirements of some projects in the... Development Plan." (85) During this epoch--seen largely as a "different phase of development where repayments of both domestic and external debt w[ould] take an increasingly large share of available Government revenues" (86)--the government of Kenya made bold moves to further "promote exports and... reduce the nations dependence on imports." (87) Among these moves was the "restructuring] [of its] industry away from production for import substitution under the protection of high tariffs and quantitative restrictions, to production oriented towards the export market." (88) Export-oriented industrialization was to be accomplished through the establishment of Export Processing Zones (EPZs). Although the World Bank and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) agreed to assist in financing these EPZs, the industrialized economies of the West remained largely closed to exports from Africa.

Like his predecessor Kenyatta, Daniel arap Moi discovered that he was not truly in charge of affairs: external forces more powerful than him would determine the fate of his economic agenda for the nation. In general, the communist threat during the Cold War had made Kenya important to the West, both as a model African capitalist nation and as a strategic location along the Indian Ocean coast from which naval operations could be carried out in case of war. (89) Consequently, before the fall of the Berlin Wall and the disintegration of the USSR, the West tolerated Kenya's largely dirigiste-predatory model. However, these global events opened up the country to neoliberalism in the twilight years of Moi's reign, which precipitated a ferocious power struggle between neoliberal forces and the Kenyan government. Whereas the government referred to calls for the adoption of this new economic ideology as "the uninformed and misguided arguments of those who would like us to change our course and place our hard won independence in peril," maintaining, initially, that "[we] will be guided by our own experience in determining how best to respond to the development needs of our people," (90) multilateral and bilateral donors suspended funding "pending the re-establishment of fiscal discipline." (91) Moi's government eventually yielded to the neoliberal forces. This led to the privatization of Kenya's numerous parastatals, a move that was accompanied by reforms in the civil service that culminated in the retrenchment of many public servants during the period 1993-2003.

Although the political elite in Kenya may have benefited from divestiture of state corporations by corruptly looting the proceeds of sales, the masses were largely left in squalor and misery. Indeed, as Moi prepared to hand over power to Mwai Kibaki in 2003, the country's economy was literally on its knees; interest rates were excessively high, roads were poor, and power supply was short in Kenya. Moreover, crime, ethnic tensions, increased unemployment, and poverty seized its citizens, 52 percent of whom lived below the poverty line. Neoliberalism had also opened up doors for further commercialization of education and health, making these services more difficult to access. (92) Perhaps as a countermeasure to the ills of neoliberalism, Moi moved to support local authorities as they fulfilled their mandate of providing services such as waste disposal, water supply, sewerage, roads, and public health. His government introduced the Local Authority Transfer Fund (LATF) in January 2000, which involved the transfer of 2 percent of income tax collections to the local authorities. The object of the LATF was to "simultaneously increase the resource base of local authorities and to enhance their governance capacities through a number of conditions imposed on their financial management performance." (93) Moi's move showcased his sensitivity to the needs of the struggling masses and served as a de facto confession that Kenyatta's incapacitation of local government authorities had been ill advised.

Having witnessed the negative effects of the power struggle between Moi and the neoliberal forces and in full cognizance of the fact that the latter's economic blueprint for the country was there to stay, Kibaki, who shared power with his Luo nemesis, Raila Odinga, in a coalition government, struck a good balance between national and external interests during his second term. He neither fully antagonized the international financial institutions nor completely sold out the interests of his largely impoverished people. The policy document that guided his economic approach during his first term in power, entitled "Economic Recovery Strategy for Wealth and Management Creation 2003-2007," was underpinned by the objectives of "channeling more budgetary resources to growth and poverty reduction areas, developing a foreign aid policy that targets poverty reduction, avoids crowding out of the private sector, enhances transfer of technology while strengthening and promoting domestic institutions," and "restoring and maintaining sound relations with development partners." (94) Vision 2030, which became the economic blueprint of the grand coalition government (April 2008 to April 2013), prioritized investments in education, health, agriculture, rural development, and infrastructure.

The most significant of Kibaki's socioeconomic development initiatives was the introduction of free primary education in January 2003. In order to reduce poverty in rural and urban areas and to promote regional development, Kibaki upheld the LATF initiative that Moi had introduced in 1998, albeit with stricter accountability requirements for local authorities. In fact, "budgetary allocation more than doubled from Kshs. 3.0 billion in 2002/03 to Kshs. 6.5 billion in 2006/07 and is projected to rise to Kshs. 9.2 billion in 2007/08." (95) Another game changer of the caliber of free primary education was the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) initiative of 2004, which was targeted at addressing the needs of the poor and vulnerable at the constituency level through providing "water,... classrooms[,] and health facilities." (96) The vigorous infrastructure expansion program the Kibaki administration undertook included bypass roads in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, and Eldoret; (97) the modernization of the Nairobi Commuter Railway System; the construction of a standard gauge railway line, which has since been completed under the Jubilee administration; the modernization of the Port of Mombasa, supported by the Japanese government; (98) and an undersea cable project accompanied by the installation of a national fiber optic network for improving and easing telecommunication both locally and internationally. (99) Although a majority of these projects were funded by the Chinese, for Kibaki's ascension to power "saw a paradigm shift in Kenya's diplomatic relations, leading to [a] radical 'Look East' policy," (100) Kibaki's approach also enjoyed goodwill from western-based neoliberal forces, for his initiatives established a support structure for neoliberalism in the country.

Figure 2 depicts this journey as told by Kenya's budget speeches, from strong centralized governance to devolved government. It shows how the combination of Luo-led opposition and pressure from western-based neoliberal forces has, perhaps inadvertently, benefited ordinary Kenyan citizens at the grassroots level of society. The mixture of Luo-led opposition to the government of Kenya, spearheaded by Jaramogi Odinga and later his son, Raila, and pressure from neoliberal forces seems to have gradually transformed Kenya from a strongly centralized state to the devolved system of government that is prevalent in the country today. Jomo Kenyatta centralized state power and emasculated local authorities, but Moi began the gradual reversal of the founding father's posture by introducing the LATE Kibaki went a notch higher by adding free primary education and the Constituency Development Fund to the LATE Following the promulgation of Kenya's new constitution in 2010, when Uhuru Kenyatta took power in 2013, he presided over a country governed by the principle of devolution of state resources. These findings are congruent with the fifth assumption of this article that a combination of western interference in the country's affairs and Luo-led collective action against the Kenyan state has led to more meaningful and inclusive socioeconomic development in Kenya. The next section presents some of the negative consequences of political social movements and collective action.

Negative Consequences as Narrated by the Luo

The findings of this study largely support the study's first assumption that the Luo are gradually adopting male circumcision, which is alien to them, because of politically constructed and mobilized stereotypes and prejudices, a tactic the Kenyan state has used to subdue the proclivity of the Luo toward collective action against the country's authorities. (101) More than thirty years after his demise, Jomo Kenyatta's othering technique, which was pegged on the phallus, seems to be so deeply entrenched in Kenyan society that even the so-called mentally ill appear to be aware of it. This interesting revelation was captured clearly in a participants response to a question about whether she had heard of the link between circumcision and leadership:
There is a "madman" around this place that once insulted Luos. His
utterances made me question his mental illness, for he seemed to
understand what he was saying. He said that Luos cannot get what they
are looking for because they are not circumcised. Can we really say he
is mentally incapacitated given that he understands that Luos do not
culturally circumcise their males? How did he know? (focus group
discussion with women in Mombasa County)

This quote suggests that the power struggle and ideological differences that pitted Kenya's founding father and his first deputy have contributed to ethnic prejudice in contemporary Kenyan society. The participants in this study exhibited awareness, to a large extent, of the association of circumcision and leadership in Kenya. Most of them mentioned references to Raila Odinga's genitalia, especially during election time. As one participant noted: "I don't know if Raila got circumcised. They come up with some issues which I see here.... When people are politicking you hear them saying, 'He is not circumcised; he cannot lead us.' You see? 'He is not a man.' They say such things" (focus group discussion with women in Mombasa County).

The Luo appear to be a frustrated people who are dealing with their discontent in various ways. Among some members of the community, there appears to be a secessionist desire, as captured in the words of one participant: "Of what benefit is the government to me? I neither care about nor need the government. I am my own government" (focus group discussion with women in Mombasa County). Some Luo appear to be opting for conformist measures geared toward gaining them acceptance as full-fledged members of the Kenyan society. As one participant indicated, "Luos are getting circumcised nowadays; even children" (focus group discussion with women in Mombasa County). Recounting her experience with her children, another participant stated:
They told me, "Mum, we want to get circumcised." The reason for this,
they said, is because their mates or colleagues laugh at them. So we
just take them for circumcision; not because we like it, but when a
child is pestering you, what can you do? Yes... they are ridiculed in
class where they go to school, (focus group discussion with women in
Uasin Gishu County)

Although other reasons, such as cleanliness and HIV/AIDS prevention, have contributed to the Luo's increased adoption of an alien cultural practice, a combination of embarrassment and stigma traced to Jomo Kenyatta's deculturalization technique appears to have profoundly influenced the Luo posture toward male circumcision.

The findings of this research also strongly suggest that because of their consistent and continued involvement in social movements and collective action against the Kenyan state, a majority of the Luo are experiencing tremendous economic difficulties at the grassroots level. The most conspicuous of these difficulties seems to be access to loans from financial institutions. Most participants alleged that indigenous Kenyan banks impose additional requirements before they will grant loans to Luos. Participants allege that these additional requirements, mainly household items that act as security, are often not mandatory for non-Luos. This has made it difficult for Luos who seek to expand a business. In other instances, Luo customers of these banks are forced to provide guarantors before they can get access to credit, even for very small loans. The alleged element of tribalism that characterizes the operations of these particular establishments was captured ubiquitously in participants' responses. One participant lamented that "for a Kikuyu it is very easy to get a loan. They get it immediately. The rest of us encounter so much difficulty for they ask for so many requirements/items" (focus group discussion with men in Mombasa County). Another participant echoed that opinion: "You know it depends on what your name is; Wanjiku [Kikuyu female name] is granted an opportunity, Odhiambo [Luo male name] is taken around in endless circles" (focus group discussion with women in Uasin Gishu County).

The Luo also appear to be experiencing difficulties in gaining access to government funds and grants targeted at individual development. In this regard, Luo surnames, which often begin with an "O," are proving to be their Achilles heels, as one participant noted: "We applied for government funding with these Kikuyus.... When they got it, they told me, 'Dude, we did not tell you: you were supposed to use another name; not 'O'! 'O' was not supposed to be there'" (focus group discussion with men in Uasin Gishu County). African surnames are very revealing; it is easy to tell the ethnicity of an individual by merely glancing at the spelling of their name. In its quest to subdue the Luo, it appears that the Kenyan state has taken advantage of this vulnerability and used it to deny community members access to much-needed funding for individual advancement.

According to a majority of the participants in this study, the Luo find it difficult to obtain employment, especially in the civil service. Education, they contend, is now secondary to ethnicity when it comes to securing a job in Kenya. A competent Luo, they allege, will usually get snubbed in favor of a less qualified competitor from another community when seeking employment. Citizens from the ruling communities are more likely to obtain better-paying jobs, notwithstanding the fact that their qualifications might be lower than those perceived to be from dissident communities. Participants consistently stated that during job interviews less-qualified competitors from other communities are considered before them. They stated that ethnic bigotry usually trumped interview performance scores. Because of this type of corruption, most of the participants in this study have opted to engage in private business endeavors. These findings reinforce the extant literature on ethnicity and governance in Africa. They reaffirm the argument that ethnicity transcends presidential elections in Kenya, for it determines access to financial services, education funds, employment opportunities, and other aspects of socioeconomic development. (102) They also support the neoliberalist argument that incumbents ensure that subsidies, loans, jobs and contracts are shunted directly to their supporters.

Contrary to the third assumption of this research, this study suggests that political exclusion has weakened intracommunal ties among the Luo instead of fostering cohesion. An overwhelming majority of the respondents lamented the failure of Luos in positions of power to help their kin gain access to economic opportunities. Opinions from the focus group discussions disclose a phenomenon that can best be described as self-hate, an emotion that prevails among the Luo, from the grassroots level to the national level. A significant proportion of the respondents see Luo political leaders as nourishing this absurd phenomenon under the leadership of Raila Odinga, former prime minister and now de facto leader of the opposition. He boycotted the repeat election of October 26, 2017. During his tenure as the country's prime minister, some participants contended, a large portion of the few Luos who held high-ranking public service positions were either fired or demoted. It appears that Luos, in general, seldom cherish the successes of their kin; on the contrary, they give the impression of relishing the prospects of seeing fellow Luos stationed below them. The opposite could be said of the hegemonic ethnic groups, such as the Kikuyu, as one participant stated: "Other tribes, like the Kikuyus... I can say someone like Uhuru Kenyatta... it is very easy for him to help somebody. Even you, right now, if you go to him and face him directly and tell him... one, two, three... he will help you. Uhuru is an open person" (focus group discussion with men in Uasin Gishu County).

According to an overwhelming majority of the participants in this study, Luos are a very proud lot. They allege that the community's affluent members feel contempt toward their underprivileged kin. It is not unusual, they contend, to find well-educated, jobless Luos who have relatives who hold senior positions in corporations languishing in Kenyan society. It seems that the fear of being outdone by upcoming, talented kin is apparently stronger in the affluent Luo than any desire to offer assistance. These revelations, especially regarding the character of Raila Odinga, indicate that it may be time for the Luo community to seek alternative leadership; the scion of Kenya's first vice-president could be exploiting the historical Kenyatta-Odinga rivalry for his own personal ambition and gain. As one Kenyan politician has asserted: "since independence, the political leadership of the region has held the people hostage to a self-defeating ideology of blaming everybody except themselves for the region's woes." (103)

These findings of self-loathing amongst the Luo contravene the third assumption of this article that there is a direct correlation between economic dissatisfaction and the strengthening of ethnic roots. (104) An explanation may lie in the deculturalization technique Jomo Kenyatta used. Society's dominant groups often use subtle psychological forms of violence in support of oppressive economic orders. Psychological violence has often involved the belittling of the subservient people's culture with the goal of influencing or distorting how the latter view themselves vis-a-vis the dominant groups and ultimately destroying the subservient group's self-esteem. Self-loathing people are easier to manipulate and control. An oppressor's culture comes to dominate that of the oppressed, and often dominated peoples begin to define themselves through the parameters of the alien culture. (105)

The prevalent Luo view is in congruence with the fourth assumption of this research, that the government of Kenya has invested only minimally in the Luo community because of their opposition politics and that the Luo are thus relatively poor compared to other communities. A majority of the participants argued that because they have opposed the government of Kenya, Luo Nyanza has witnessed outright economic sabotage by the state and that economic incapacitation of Luo Nyanza has been carried out surreptitiously with impunity over the years. They cite the following examples of sabotage: disruption of rice irrigation schemes at Nyando, Kano, and Ahero; a lack of support for the sugar industry, particularly the impairment of Miwani, Muhoroni, and Chemelil sugar factories throughout the postcolonial era; the closure and relocation of production plants, for example the Kenya Breweries in Kisumu; the incapacitation of the Molasses Project in Kisumu; and the establishment of fish-processing industries in Central Kenya, some hundreds of miles away from Lake Victoria. These alleged state orchestrations, they feel, have had a devastating economic effect on Luo Nyanza over the years, particularly because they left many Luos jobless and economically crippled.

How is capital accumulation by the private enterprises of the world's major powers affecting civil society in Africa? An answer to this important question can only be suggested here. Infinite accumulation of profits by multinational corporations, occasioned partly by the neoliberal push against the predatory state, has proven disadvantageous to the largely oppressed and impoverished African masses. Driven by an unrestrained profit motive, western countries, which first devised the idea of accountability and good governance, appear to be gradually sacrificing their call for democracy on the altar of free markets and economic self-interest. Accordingly, the future of civil society and social opposition in Africa appear to be highly uncertain at the moment. There is evidence that funding from donors is now largely targeted at service delivery as opposed to the support of advocacy, democracy, and rights organizations. (106) An interesting explanation for this phenomenon is "the rise of China and its perceived 'no questions asked' attitude towards development." (107) When Uhuru Kenyatta first ran for Kenya's presidency in 2013 while he was under indictment by the International Criminal Court, he encountered severe opposition from western powers, who appeared to back the Luo politician, Raila Odinga.

Upon his somewhat unexpected ascendancy to the helm of the government of Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta "chart [ed] out an independent minded foreign policy approach no longer dependent on 'bending over backwards' to please the United States and other major powers." (108) He intensified the "Look East" policy his predecessor, Kibaki, had adopted: his first official visits as head of state were to Moscow and Beijing. In Beijing, he signed "co-operation agreements on energy development, environmental protection and personal exchanges" and referred to "China as a 'sincere friend,'" calling "for deeper political and economic co-operation." (109) In what could perhaps be understood as an attempt to address the fact that "Chinas political and economic influence in Kenya [is] outpacing that of the US," (110) international observers, led by former US secretary of state John Kerry, rushed to give a clean bill of health to the 2017 Kenyan general election, which the Kenyan Supreme Court later described as being fraught with numerous illegalities and irregularities and nullified.

Seemingly, the West is compromising the principle of democracy in favor of its economic interests. Owing to this contradictory behavior on the part of western powers, Africa's constitutional democracy appears to be under serious threat. In Eastern Africa, particularly, a pattern of autocracy appears to be developing without any meaningful response from the United States and Europe.

Also, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is heavily scrutinizing the operations of international private and government donors. These entities, supporters of civil society organizations that play an important role in organizing political-social movements and collective action, are required to "report their financial disbursements to the OECD as part of a coordination and anti-corruption mechanism." (111) The OECD is largely an elitist entity (its members are developed countries) and its purpose must be critically questioned; it could well be serving as a conduit for furthering the neoliberal agenda at the expense of the African masses. Although the OECD packages itself as a champion of market economics and democracy, history shows that its member countries have often prioritized their interests despite the values the international body espouses. It appears that as long as African dictators are willing to accede to western business interests, the latter will ignore violations of human rights and constitutional democracy in the cradle of humankind. The pertinent question with regard to political-social movements and collective action, therefore, is whether we are indeed witnessing what has been referred to as "the demise of African civil society" owing to the neoliberal agenda. (112)


Grounded in the premise that the consequences of opposing the state in Africa are contradictory, this article is underpinned by two questions: 1) How have antagonistic relations between the government of Kenya and the Luo, which have frequently manifested themselves through social movements and collective action, influenced the socioeconomic development of Kenya in general and that of the Luo community in particular? 2) What are the specifics of the socioeconomic consequences to the Luo of opposing the Kenyan state? The Luo views presented here suggest that the community's political posture of opposing the government of Kenya throughout that country's post-independent history has had a profoundly negative effect on the development of Nyanza Province, the location of the traditional homeland of the community, and on the individual lives of the Luo citizens of Kenya. Although a devolved system of government has made inroads into this economic marginalization at the county level, obstacles abound at the individual level.

Kenya's journey toward decentralization and the devolution of state resources has been rife with power struggles and the largely predatory government's need to legitimate itself. In this sense, state (re)formation processes in Africa are strikingly similar, in that they are complex and involve a great deal of social struggle and bargaining. They also mirror the turbulent processes through which European state institutions came into existence. (113) Moreover, Kenya's external relations with global powers, both in the East and the West, continue to play a major role in the course and direction this continuously evolving African state takes.

The consequences of the neoliberal agenda have not been entirely negative. Whenever the predatory state is curtailed, better forms of governance that regard the welfare of the citizen at the grassroots level of society emerge, such as the devolved system of government that guarantees every community a share of the national largesse. Devolution of state resources can certainly serve to improve state-society relations in Kenya and position the country for economic transformation. However, if we consider strong institutions to be fundamental for economic transformation and define the term to include "historically accreted practices" (114) and "cultural norms," (115) then there is still considerable room for improvement in Kenya. Attempts to exclude an entire community from participation in socioeconomic and political structures and processes of a country on account of "some laughably superficial and non-essential feature" (116) like circumcision certainly stand in the way of the frictionless society. Thus, neoliberalism has impacted Kenya negatively, but the ideology cannot be blamed for all of Kenya's problems. Indeed, Malaysia and Chile, which also adopted neoliberalism and whose citizens have also paid the price for the implementation of the ideology, have made comparatively great economic strides. (117) In Kenya, where negative views about an ethnic group has hindered the common cause, there is a need for social harmony that can be achieved through an appreciation of diversity, meritocracy, equality of opportunity, respect for diverse cultures, constitutionalism, and the rule of law.

The findings of this paper also show that oppression in contemporary society does not simply occur between nations but between fellow citizens within nations, too. Indeed, echoes of internal colonialism exist in Kenya. The Luo case shows that oppression in Kenya happens within ethnic groups. We can also conclude that in contemporary times, the closely related concepts of human rights, constitutionalism, and good governance are losing out to the neoliberal agenda of free trade and open markets insofar as the West is concerned. Industrialized countries seem to be more concerned with maintaining their privileged positions in the hierarchy of the international division of labor. Accordingly, an unusually cozy relationship between two erstwhile camps--the predatory African state and western-based neoliberal forces--appears to have emerged at the expense of the Kenyan masses. As long as transnational corporations are the biggest beneficiaries of neoliberalism, industrialized countries will turn a blind eye to the dictatorial tendencies and rent-seeking endeavors of the Kenyan political elite class. In the process, the character of the Kenyan state is metamorphosing from what could be considered dirigiste-predatory to neoliberal-predatory.

Last but not least, my research shows that despite its predatory character, the Kenyan state has tried in the past to transform its economy through initiatives such as the adoption of export-oriented industrialization. However, these endeavors failed partly because industrialized countries refused to provide markets for Kenyan products. Thus, Kenya's woes are both self-inflicted and exogenous in character.


Focus Group Discussion Guide

Thank you for agreeing to participate. We are very interested to hear your valuable opinion on political tribalism, and exclusion, in Kenya, that has resulted from consistent Luo opposition to the Kenyan state--through collective action and social movements--and how they have influenced your daily lives.

The purpose of this study is to examine the socio-cultural and economic factors arising out of political exclusion and domination, largely because of opposing the Kenyan state, with the view to understand the nature of the consequences of social movements and collective action in the push for democracy. We hope that the insights gained from you can be utilized in aiding the Luo community to liberate itself from restrictions and limitations that exist in power relations.

The information you give us is completely confidential, and we will not associate your name with anything you say in the focus group.

We would like to tape the focus groups so that we can make sure to capture the thoughts, opinions, and ideas we hear from the group. No names will be attached to the focus groups and the tapes will be destroyed as soon as they are transcribed.

You may refuse to answer any question or withdraw from the study at any time.

We understand how important it is that this information is kept private and confidential. We will ask participants to respect each other's confidentiality.

If you have any questions now or after the discussion is over, you can always contact a study team member like me, or you can call the project team leaders whose names and phone numbers are on this form.

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1. Let us begin this discussion by hearing your thoughts on tribalism. What is your understanding of tribalism and have you experienced it in your daily life? How?

2. What are your views on circumcision and politics in Kenya? Have you heard of the argument that an uncircumcised man cannot be a leader, and if so, where did you hear of this?

3. Have you heard Luos being ridiculed in Kenya because of the circumcision issue and how does it make you feel?

4. Have you or your close relatives, or your Luo acquaintances, undergone circumcision? If so, why, since it is not part of your/their culture? If not, would you/they contemplate it for reasons other than medical?


5. What are your experiences in seeking employment in public and private sectors? What about other opportunities like scholarships and bursaries?

6. Would you say you have experienced discrimination when it comes to bursaries, scholarships and/or employment opportunities? How?


7. Do you think that Luos who are in influential positions in society help their fellow Luos to access economic opportunities? Why?

8. Would you vote for a presidential candidate from another ethnic group if a Luo was also running for the presidency? Why?

9. Are you married to a fellow Luo? Why or why not? If not married, will ethnicity be a factor to you when considering a life partner?


10. Do you think that the government, before devolution was instituted in 2013, discriminated against Luo Nyanza in terms of allocation of public investment/resources? Why?


(1.) Stephen N. Ndegwa, The Two Faces of Civil Society: NGOs and Politics in Africa (West Hartford, CT: Kumarian Press, 1996).

(2.) Jaramogi Oginga Odinga was Kenya's first vice-president and the father of the current opposition leader, Raila Odinga.

(3.) Peter Anyang' Nyong'o, "Governance in Africa: Challenges for the Next 50 Years," Pambazuka News, July 3, 2013, accessed January 13, 2017, My italics.

(4.) Jomo Kenyatta (a Kikuyu), Kenya's founding father, was capitalist-oriented and his leadership style largely favored local and international elites. In contrast, his deputy, Jaramogi (a Luo), was a socialist-leaning, populist politician whose approach and vision prioritized the welfare of the Kenyan masses. Because of their ideological differences and ensuing power struggles, Kenyatta frustrated Odinga politically by masterminding the creation of eight posts of party vice-chairman within the ruling party, Kenya African National Union (KANU), in 1966. With his powers clipped, for the position of vice-chair had hitherto been exclusively his, Odinga resigned and ventured into opposition politics. This separation set in motion the fierce Kikuyu-Luo rivalry that characterizes contemporary Kenyan society and politics. During Kenya's 2017 presidential elections, Jomo's son, Uhuru Kenyatta, ran as the incumbent and Raila Odinga, Jaramogi s son, was his main challenger.

(5.) Elisha Stephen Atieno-Odhiambo, "Hegemonic Enterprises and Instrumentalities of Survival: Ethnicity and Democracy in Kenya," African Studies 61, no. 2 (2002): 241.

(6.) Wangari Maathai, "Bottlenecks to Development in Africa," paper presented at the 4th UN World Women's Conference, Beijing China, August 30, 1995, accessed December 31, 2016,

(7.) Gabrielle Lynch and Gordon Crawford, "Democratization in Africa 1990-2010: An Assessment," Democratization 18, no. 2 (2011): 275-310.

(8.) As cited in Tom P. Wolf, "'Poll Poison'? Politicians and Polling in the 2007 Kenya Election," Journal of Contemporary African Studies 27, no. 3 (2009): 279-304.

(9.) Ibid., 280.

(10.) Magali Rheault and Bob Tortora, "In Kenya, Most Ethnic Groups Distrust 2007 Election," Gallup, October 30, 2008, accessed January 10, 2017,

(11.) Jeffrey Gettleman, "Kenyans Approve New Constitution," New York Times, August 5, 2010, accessed January 10, 2017,

(12.) Nyong'o, "Governance in Africa."

(13.) Standard Team, "Nyanza CORD Leaders Proceed with Anti-IEBC Protests Despite Court Order," Standard Digital, May 10,2016, accessed January 10, 2017,

(14.) Kingsley Ighobor, "Unleashing the Power of Africa's Civil Society," Africa Renewal, August-November 2016, accessed December 26, 2017,

(15.) Albert Bergesen, "Turning World-System Theory on Its Head," in Global Culture: Nationalism, Globalization and Modernity, ed. Mike Featherstone (London: Sage, 1990), 68.

(16.) Ibid, 69.

(17.) Ibid.

(18.) Ibid., 67.

(19.) Ibid.

(20.) Peter Evans, Embedded Autonomy: States and Industrial Transformation (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995).

(21.) Ibid., 23.

(22.) James M. Buchanan, Robert D. Tollison, and Gordon Tullock, eds., Toward a Theory of the Rent-Seeking Society (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1980), quoted in Evans, Embedded Autonomy, 23.

(23.) Evans, Embedded Autonomy, 23.

(24.) Ibid.

(25.) Anne O. Krueger, "The Political Economy of the Rent-Seeking Society," American Economic Review 64, no. 3 (1974), 293, quoted in Evans, Embedded Autonomy, 24.

(26.) Evans, Embedded Autonomy, 24.

(27.) Ibid.

(28.) Richard D. Auster and Morris Silver, The State as a Firm: Economic Forces in Political Development (Boston, MA: Martinus Nijhoff Publishing, 1979), 102, quoted in Evans, Embedded Autonomy, 24.

(29.) Sean Aday, Henry Farrell, Marc Lynch, John Sides, and Deen Freelon, "Blogs and Bullets II: New Media and Conflict After the Arab Spring," Institute for Peace, July 10, 2012, accessed December 30,2016,; Ya-Wen Lei, "The Political Consequences of the Rise of the Internet: Political Beliefs and Practices of Chinese Netizens," Political Communication 28, no. 3 (2011): 291-322; Jonathan Hassid, "Safety Valve or Pressure Cooker? Blogs in Chinese Political Life," Journal of Communication 62, no. 2 (2012): 212-230; and Sarah Kendzior, "Digital Freedom of Expression in Uzbekistan," New America Foundation, July 18, 2012, accessed December 30,2016, http://web.archive.Org/web/20160522002318/

(30.) Merlyna Lim, "Clicks, Cabs, and Coffee Houses: Social Media and Oppositional Movements in Egypt, 2004-2011," Journal of Communication 62, no. 2 (2012): 231-248.

(31.) W. Lance Bennett and Alexandra Segerberg, "Digital Media and the Personalization of Collective Action: Social Technology and the Organization of Protests against the Global Economic Crisis," Information, Communication & Society 14, no. 6 (2011): 770-799.

(32.) Lei, "The Political Consequences of the Rise of the Internet," 291.

(33.) Hal Roberts et al., "The Evolving Landscape of Internet Control," Berkman Center for Internet Society, August 2011, accessed December 30, 2016,

(34.) Kendzior, "Digital Freedom of Expression in Uzbekistan," 15.

(35.) Katy E. Pearce and Sarah Kendzior, "Networked Authoritarianism and Social Media in Azerbaijan," Journal of Communication 62, no. 2 (2012): 283.

(36.) Srilatha Batliwala, ed., Changing Their World: Concepts and Practices of Women's Movements, 2nd ed. (Toronto: AWID, 2012), accessed January 10, 2017,; and Charlotte Gage, "In All Our Colours: Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Women's Services in the UK," Women's Resource Centre, London, September 2010, accessed January 10, 2017,

(37.) Claudia Derichs and Dana Fennert, eds., Women's Movements and Countermovements: The Quest for Gender Equality in Southeast Asia and the Middle East (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2014).

(38.) United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, ed., Equal Participation of Women and Men in Decision-Making Processes, with Particular Emphasis on Political Participation and Leadership (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: UN DESA, 2005), 7.

(39.) Ibid, 3.

(40.) Ibid.

(41.) For example, see Hamidon Ali, "Translating Words to Deeds: Achieving Gender Equality and Development for All," in Equal Participation of Women and Men in Decision-Making Processes, with Particular Emphasis on Political Participation and Leadership, ed. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: UN DESA, 2005), 8-11.

(42.) Ban Ki-moon, "Increasing Uniform Delivery Through Collective Action," in Equal Participation of Women and Men in Decision-making Processes, with Particular Emphasis on Political Participation and Leadership, ed. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: UN DESA, 2005), 12-15.

(43.) Frances Stewart, "The Fourth Domain for Gender Equality: Decision-Making and Power," in Equal Participation of Women and Men in Decision-making Processes, with Particular Emphasis on Political Participation and Leadership, ed. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: UN DESA, 2005), 31-36.

(44.) Saleem Badat, "Deciphering the Meanings, and Explaining the South African Higher Education Student Protests of 2015-16," n.d., accessed December 30, 2016,,%20and%20Explaining%20the%20South%20African%20Higher%20 Education%20Student%20Protests.pdf; James Muzondidya, "Zimbabwe beyond July 2013: Prospects for Rebuilding Vibrant Social Movements," Solidarity Peace Trust, June 2, 2015, accessed December 30, 2016,; and Kristian Stokke and Sophie Oldfield, "Social Movements, Socio-Economic Rights and Substantial Democratization in South Africa," accessed December 30, 2016,

(45.) Laurence Piper and Lubna Nadvi, "Popular Mobilization, Party Dominance and Participatory Governance in South Africa," in Citizenship and Social Movements: Perspectives from the Global South, ed. Lisa Thompson and Chris Tapscott (London: Zed Books, 2010), 212-238.

(46.) Maathai, "Bottlenecks to Development in Africa."

(47.) Phiroshaw Camay and Anne J. Gordon, "Civil Society as Advocate of Social Change in Pre and Post-Transition Societies: Building Sound Governance in South Africa," paper presented at the biennial International Society for Third-Sector Research Conference, Cape Town, July 7-10, 2002, accessed January 10, 2017,

(48.) Badat, "Deciphering the Meanings, and Explaining the South African Higher Education Student Protests of 2015-16."

(49.) Muzondidya, "Zimbabwe beyond July 2013."

(50.) Ibid.

(51.) Ibid.

(52.) Stokke and Oldfield, "Social Movements, Socio-Economic Rights and Substantial Democratization in South Africa."

(53.) Evans, Embedded Autonomy.

(54.) Will Roche, "Monopoly Capitalism," In Defence of Marxism, December 14, 2009, accessed December 7, 2016,

(55.) Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time, 2nd ed. (Boston: Beacon Press, 2001).

(56.) Istvan Meszaros, Socialism or Barbarism: From the "American Century" to the Crossroads (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2001), 102.

(57.) Immanuel Wallerstein, Historical Capitalism (London: Verso, 1983).

(58.) Evans, Embedded Autonomy, 8.

(59.) Ibid., 10.

(60.) See Atieno-Odhiarabo, "Hegemonic Enterprises and Instrumentalities of Survival," 223-249; "Kenya: Ominous Oaths," Time, August 15, 1969, accessed December 18, 2016,,9171,901233.00.html; Martine Abdallah-Pretceille, Former et eduquer en contexte heterogene: Pour un humanisme du divers (Paris: Anthropos, 2003), 13; and Jean-Francois Staszak, "Other/Otherness," in International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, ed. Rob Kitchin and Nigel Thrift (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2009), 43-47.

(61.) Beverline Ongaro and Osogo Ambani, "Constitutionalism as a Panacea to Ethnic Divisions in Kenya: A Post 2007 Election Crisis Perspective," in Ethnicity, Human Rights and Constitutionalism in Africa, ed. The Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists, (Nairobi: ICJ-K, 2008), 24-36.

(62.) Lucy Carr, "Understanding the Ethnic Factor in Africa," Relationships Foundation Occasional Papers no. V, Newick Park Initiative, Cambridge, 1995.

(63.) See Maurice N. Amutabi, "Beyond Imperial Presidency in Kenya: Interrogating the Kenyatta, Moi and Kibaki Regimes and Implications for Democracy and Development," Kenya Studies Review 1, no. 1 (2009): 55-84; and Agola Auma-Osolo, Why Leaders Fail and Plunge the Innocent into a Sea of Agonies: The Danger of Abnormal Politics, vol. 1 (Bloomington, IN: Trafford Publishing, 2013).

(64.) Carr, "Understanding the Ethnic Factor."

(65.) Kennedy O. Opalo, "Ethnicity and Elite Coalitions: The Origins of 'Big Man Presidentialism in Africa," Social Science Research Network, May 26, 2011, accessed January 13, 2017,

(66.) See, for instance, Luke Anami, "UK to Avoid Contact with ICC Suspects," Standard Digital, January 16, 2013, accessed August 26, 2016,; and Oliver Mathenge and Nzau Msau, "US Warns of ICC Consequences," Star, February 8, 2013, accessed August 26, 2016,

(67.) Carlos Nunes Silva, "Ex Post Facto Study," in Encyclopedia of Research Design, vol. 1, ed. Neil J. Salkind (Los Angeles: Sage, 2010), 466.

(68.) Fred Nichols Kerlinger, Foundations of Behavioral Research, 2nd ed. (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1973), 379.

(69.) Marilyn K. Simon and Jim Goes, "Ex Post Facto Research," 1, accessed January 13, 2017,

(70.) Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge and the Discourse on Language, trans. A. M. Sheridan Smith (London: Tavistock, 1972).

(71.) Through "assistance" from international financial institutions, such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and other bilateral and multilateral players such as the Paris Club creditors, external forces have influenced the economic trajectory of Kenya since its independence in 1963 and were instrumental in the forcible introduction of neoliberalism in the country and on the continent at large.

(72.) John W. Creswell, Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing among Five Approaches, 3rd ed. (Los Angeles: Sage, 2013), 299-300.

(73.) B. Raewyn Bassett, "Iterative," in Encyclopedia of Case Study Research, vol. 1, ed. Albert J. Mills, Gabrielle Durepos, and Elden Wiebe (Los Angeles, CA: Sage, 2010), 504.

(74.) John W. Creswell, Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches, 2nd ed. (Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2003), 15 (quote), 45.

(75.) Government of Kenya, The National Assembly Official Report Volume XV Sixth Session--(Contd.), Monday, 27th May, 1968 to Friday, 28th June, 1968 (Nairobi: Government Printer, 1968), 1135.

(76.) Government of Kenya, The National Assembly House of Representatives Official Report Volume IX, Fourth Session, Tuesday, 24th May 1966 to Thursday, 30th June 1966 (Nairobi: Government Printer, 1966), 717.

(77.) Government of Kenya, The National Assembly House of Representatives Official Report Volume III (Part I), Second Session (Contd.), Tuesday, 9th June 1964 to Friday, 3rd July 1964 (Nairobi: Government Printer, 1964), 220.

(78.) Government of Kenya, The National Assembly Official Report Volume XX (Part II), First Session (Contd.), Tuesday, 16th June 1970 to Wednesday, 15th July 1970 (Nairobi: Government Printer, 1970), 1420.

(79.) Cyprian Fernandes, "Remembering Pinto: He Was Killed for Speaking Truth to Power," Pambazuka News, March 1, 2016, accessed January 10, 2018,

(80.) Ibid.

(81.) Ibid.

(82.) Dick Roberts, "Not Yet Uhuru: An Autobiography by Oginga Odinga," World Outlook 6, no. 4 (1968): 85.

(83.) Cyprian Fernandes, "Remembering Pinto," my italics.

(84.) Atieno-Odhiambo, "Hegemonic Enterprises and the Instrumentalities of Survival," 243.

(85.) Republic of Kenya, Budget Speech for the Fiscal Year 1979/80 (1st July-30th June) by the Hon. Mwai Kibaki, E.G.H., M.P., Minister for Finance (Nairobi: The Government Printer, 1979), 2.

(86.) Republic of Kenya, Budget Speech for the Fiscal Year 1983/84 (1st July-30th June) by the Hon. Arthur K. Magugu, E.G.H., M.P., Minister for Finance (Nairobi: The Government Printer, 1983), 7.

(87.) Ibid., 4.

(88.) Republic of Kenya, Budget Speech for the Fiscal Year 1990/91 (1st July-30th June) by the Hon. George Saitoti, E.G.H., M.P., Minister for Finance (Nairobi: The Government Printer, 1990), 5.

(89.) See, for instance, Vincent B. Khapoya and Baffour Agyeman-Duah, "The Cold War and Regional Politics in East Africa," Conflict Quarterly 5, no. 2 (1985): 18-32; and Ali A. Mazrui, The African Predicament and the American Experience: A Tale of Two Edens (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004).

(90.) Republic of Kenya, Budget Speech 1990, 1.

(91.) Republic of Kenya, Budget Speech for the Fiscal Year 1992/93 (1st July-30th June) by the Hon. George Saitoti, E.G.H., M.P., Minister for Finance (Nairobi: The Government Printer, 1992), 5.

(92.) Republic of Kenya, Budget Speech for the Fiscal Year 1996/97 (1st July-30th June) by the Hon. Musalia Mudavadi, E.G.H., M.P., Minister for Finance (Nairobi: The Government Printer, 1996), 13; Republic of Kenya, Budget Speech 1995. See also Republic of Kenya, Budget Speech for the Fiscal Year 2000/01 (1st July-30th June) by the Hon. Chrysanthus B. Okemo, E.G.H., M.P., Minister for Finance (Nairobi: The Government Printer, 2000), 1.

(93.) Republic of Kenya, Budget Speech for the Fiscal Year 2001/02 (1st July-30th June) by the Hon. Chrysanthus B. Okemo, E.G.H., M.P., Minister for Finance (Nairobi: The Government Printer, 2001), 18.

(94.) Republic of Kenya, Budget Speech for the Fiscal Year 2003/04 (1st July-30th June) by the Hon. David Mwiraria, E.G.H., M.P., Minister for Finance (Nairobi: The Government Printer, 2003), 6.

(95.) Republic of Kenya, Budget Speech for the Fiscal Year 2007/08 (1st July-30th June) by the Hon. Amos M. Kimunya, E.G.H., M.P., Minister for Finance (Nairobi: The Government Printer, 2007), 7.

(96.) Republic of Kenya, Budget Speech for the Fiscal Year 2004/05 (1st July-30th June) by the Hon. David Mwiraria, E.G.H., M.P., Minister for Finance (Nairobi: The Government Printer, 2004), 47.

(97.) Republic of Kenya, Budget Speech for the Fiscal Year 2009/10 (1st July-30th June) by the Hon. Uhuru M. Kenyatta, E.G.H., M.P., Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance (Nairobi: The Government Printer, 2009), 10.

(98.) Republic of Kenya, Budget Speech for the Fiscal Year 2008/09 (1st July-30th June) by the Hon. Amos M. Kimunya, E.G.H., M.P., Minister for Finance (Nairobi: The Government Printer, 2008), 10.

(99.) Ibid, 11.

(100.) Charles Kagwanja, "China, Kenya Forging Friendship," Business Report, December 4, 2015, accessed January 10, 2018,

(101.) Atieno-Odhiambo, "Hegemonic Enterprises and Instrumentalities of Survival"; and "Kenya: Ominous Oaths," Time, August 15,1969, accessed December 18, 2016,,9171,901233,00.html.

(102.) Beverline Ongaro and Osogo Ambani, "Constitutionalism as a Panacea to Ethnic Divisions in Kenya: A Post 2007 Election Crisis Perspective," in Ethnicity, Human Rights and Constitutionalism in Africa (Nairobi: The Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists, 2008), 24-35.

(103.) Moses Kuria, "Liberation of Luo Nyanza Is Near," Star, April 27, 2011, reprinted at, accessed July 13, 2018,

(104.) Carr, "Understanding the Ethnic Factor in Africa."

(105.) Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Decolonizing the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature (Nairobi: EAEP, 1986).

(106.) Alexander O'Riordan, "Funding Civil Society in South Africa: Where Does the Money Go?" The South African Civil Society Information Service, April 3, 2013, accessed January 14, 2018,

(107.) Ibid.

(108.) Juma Kwayera, "Kenya Looks East as Changing Needs Call for Policy Shift," Standard Digital, December 11, 2013, accessed January 14, 2018,

(109.) Teddy Ng, "Kenya Looks East to 'Sincere Friend' in China," South China Morning Post, August 19, 2013, accessed January 14, 2018,

(110.) Ibid.

(111.) O'Riordan, "Funding Civil Society."

(112.) Alexander O'Riordan, "Idasa's Demise, Broken Donor Promises and Africa's Naive Civil Society," The South African Civil Society Information Service, March 27, 2013, accessed January 14, 2018,

(113.) Charles Tilly, Coercion, Capital and European States, AD 990-1992 (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1993).

(114.) Kenneth Shepsle, "The Institutional Foundations of Committee Power," American Political Review 81 (1987): 85-104, quoted in Evans, Embedded Autonomy, 33.

(115.) Douglass C. North, Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 36, quoted in Evans, Embedded Autonomy, 33.

(116.) Atieno-Odhiambo, "Hegemonic Enterprises and the Instrumentalities of Survival," 243.

(117.) Owen Worth, Resistance in the Age of Austerity: Nationalism, the Failure of the Left and the Return of God (New York, NY: Zed Books, 2013).

ALBERT GORDON OMULO has a PhD from the School of Government, University of the Western Cape, in Cape Town, South Africa. His email address is
Table 1 Rationale behind the questions in the research instrument

Section            Questions   Research hypotheses

A. Cultural        1-4         The Luo are gradually adopting the alien
factors                        culture of circumcision because of
                               politically constructed/mobilized
                               stereotypes and prejudices, a tactic the
                               Kenyan state has used to subdue their
                               proclivity toward collective action
                               against the country's authorities.
B. Economic        5-6         Social movements and collective action in
difficulties                   response to political exclusion have
                               translated into economic difficulties at
                               the individual level for the Luo.
C. Strengthening   7-9         Social movements and collective action in
of ethnic roots                response to political exclusion have had
                               the unwitting effect of fostering ethnic
                               cohesion among the Luo.
D. Minimal         10          The Luo have endured minimal public
public                         investment from the government of Kenya
investment                     because their opposition politics has
                               the consequence of making them relatively
                               poor compared to other communities.

Section            Justification/Literature review

A. Cultural        Drawing on the apparent significance of circumcision
factors            as an essential cultural symbol for admission into
                   the circles of leadership in Kenya, I pose these
                   questions to gauge the consequences of the
                   politically instigated "othering" that Kenyatta
                   instituted as a mechanism for subduing the community
                   at the grassroots level. Could the Luo be adopting a
                   practice that is alien to them in order to be
                   accepted in Kenyan society? (60)
B. Economic        The inspiration behind these questions stems from the
difficulties       contention that politics driven by ethnicity affects
                   how capital is transferred and the ways that jobs,
                   opportunities, scholarships, bursaries, and loans are
                   awarded, distributed, and allocated. (61) Money is
                   power: could political exclusion at the national
                   level be closing economic doors for the Luo, thus
                   denying them the economic capacity to organize
                   themselves more effectively as a political entity?
C. Strengthening   These questions derive from the argument that
of ethnic roots    economic dissatisfaction directly correlates with
                   ethnic cohesion. (62) It has been sufficiently
                   documented in scholarly literature on Kenya that the
                   Kenyatta, Moi, and Kibaki regimes have taken
                   leadership opportunities away from the Luo because of
                   their opposition to the Kenyan state, which may have
                   translated into economic difficulties for the Luo at
                   all levels of society. (63) Could this have awakened
                   ethnic consciousness among the Luo, given that in
                   Africa most people assess political and economic
                   opportunities within the framework of ethnic
                   competition and struggle? (64)
D. Minimal         Governments that practice political exclusion to
public             perpetuate their stranglehold on power may indeed
investment         allow only minimal public investment in the home
                   areas of dissident communities. (65) This not only
                   discourages opponents, it also keeps them poor.
                   Economically disenfranchised communities find it very
                   difficult to organize themselves politically and are
                   easy to divide and rule.
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Author:Omulo, Albert Gordon
Publication:Journal of Global South Studies
Article Type:Case study
Geographic Code:6KENY
Date:Sep 22, 2018

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