1st Edition

Political Protest in Contemporary Kenya
Change and Continuities

ISBN 9780367280673
Published February 4, 2020 by Routledge
222 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

USD $160.00

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Book Description

This book analyses the emergence, strategies, and outcomes of the struggle to embed democratic governance and constitutional order in Kenya, showcasing both the power and the limits of citizen agency in the struggle to transform a postcolonial African state.

Utilising data from primary interviews, media, and existing literature, this book analyses the emergence, diffusion, operational strategies, and outcomes of Kenyan constitutional reform struggles with a view to highlighting both the power and limits of social movement in transforming a postcolonial African state. It engages intersections of social movement and theories of democratisation to probe the production, operations, and outcomes of the disruptive yet creative power of the movements at the centre of the struggle to transform the Kenyan constitution. The book also appraises the "meanings" of, and developments after, the promulgation of the 2010 constitution with a view to illuminating the prospects for a transformative democratic political order in Kenya. This book is a useful tool in understanding the struggles specific to Kenya, but also offers insights into other democratic struggles on the African continent and beyond.

This book will be of interest to students and scholars of social movements and political change in Africa in general and Kenya in particular.

Table of Contents

1. The Seeds of Contemporary Kenyan Constitutional Reform Struggles: An Introduction  2. Crystallisation of the Constitutional Change Movement  3. The Ufungamano Initiative: A Movement of Movements  4. Leadership, Framing, and Mobilisation Strategies  5. Success and its Paradoxes  6. A Dream Deferred  7. Uncivil Energy Begets Civil Ends  8. A Turning Point When History Failed to Turn?  9. Conclusion 

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Jacob Mwathi Mati is a senior lecturer in sociology at Sol Plaatje University, South Africa and an associate research fellow at the Society, Work & Politics (SWOP) Institute at The University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.


‘This is a critical study on African social movements reflecting on political opportunities, framing and mobilisation structures with respect to the Kenyan Ufungamano Initiative. The book also considers the limits of "disruptive power" of movements once absorbed into mainstream political processes.’ – Shauna Mottiar, Director, Centre for Civil Society, University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

‘Mati’s new book on political protests in recent Kenya is outstanding in several ways. Most theoretical analyses of political protests in Africa, of which there have been many in recent decades, seldom give sufficient accounts of African contexts due to their overreliance on models derived from Europe and elsewhere, not from Africa. Mati, however, roots his analysis in African and especially Kenyan history, carefully taking account of "struggles of multiple competing classes, ethnicities, religious groups, generations and gender". Mati shows how an inter-faith-based Ufungamano Initiative, as a uniquely Kenyan "movement of movements", played a central long-term role in fostering popular citizen participation in positive constitutional change, in spite of many complexities and internal changes in the movement. I would highly recommend it to readers interested in political protest periods and theories, especially in Africa; it is vital to understanding recent Kenyan history and politics.’ – David Horton Smith, Research and Emeritus Professor, Department of Sociology, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA, USA