The Politics of Culture in Kenya since 2010: Implications for pluralism

Hughes, Lotte; Akoth, Steve Ouma and Nyamweru, Celia (2018). The Politics of Culture in Kenya since 2010: Implications for pluralism. In: Ghai, Yash Pal and Ghai, Jill C. eds. Pluralism in Kenya. The Katiba Institute and the Global Institute for Pluralism.



This chapter examines some key developments around culture and pluralism since the passing of the new constitution in 2010, drawing on new research findings. It starts by placing the subject in international context, including the ways in which cultural rights have become more visible in human rights protocols. It describes how culture and cultural rights feature in the 2010 constitution, and tension around these concepts which became sharply apparent during the constitutional review process. The subsequent rise and rise of culture (or ‘notions’ of culture) have become particularly apparent in devolved counties; for example, in the use by county governments of culture in tourism promotion, marketization of resources, and branding; in the proliferation of cultural festivals and other types of cultural performance across Kenya; and more broadly in the use of culture as a political propaganda tool, especially during the 2017 election campaigns. Cultural heritage is also emerging as a new way for communities to negotiate change at grassroots level. The constitution is not the only driver of these processes; the authors discuss other factors. While some of these developments are problematic, others, such as cross-cultural fusions, show that Kenya is moving toward becoming a plural society.

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