To achieve vision 2030,kenyan’s need to unite and fight a common ‘enemy’ called

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Charity Weru Supervisor: Osman Farah

Master Thesis:

Development and International Relations

Aalborg University


Source : Gado Cartoon


General elections of 2013 in Kenya were relatively peaceful, compared to 2007/2008 where violence erupted and people killed one another and property worth millions of money destroyed. The violence left 1,200 people dead and more than 600,000 people displaced. In 2013 though, violence took a different shape and form. This time, people turned to social media to express their dissatisfaction with the election results, spreading hateful and abuseful messages to different ethnic groups. The mediums that were mostly used were blogs, facebook and twitter. This was an indication that despite the lack of demonstrations and people rioting on the street, ethnicity or tribalism is still entrenched in the Kenyan society. Land has been identified as a cause of conflict in that, some historical land injustices that dates back to colonization have not been addressed and ethnic violence related to land has been reoccurring. To put an end to this, land reforms were proposed after post-election violence of 2007/2008 and they were to address among other things historical injustices that cause ethnic conflict every so often. This study focus to what extent the ongoing land reforms will address this problem of ethnic conflict.

To be in a position to understand the issue of ethnic conflict in Kenya, i decided to be guided by these objectives (i) To gain a deeper understanding on the concept of ethnicity in the Kenyan (ii) To establish the link between ethnic conflict, land and politics and (iii) Look at the proposed reforms and how they will address the issue. To help me achieve these objectives were three research questions that I tried to answer in this paper which are :- (i) what is the interrelationship between ethnicity, land and conflict? (ii) What role has political landscape played in shaping the conflict? (iii) Will the proposed land reforms address the problem? Patterns derived from the data analysis led me to theoretical frameworks that could explain ethnic conflict in Kenya i.e. Primordial theory and Elite manipulation theory. I have also tried to identify the aspects of ethnic conflict in Kenya that have not been addressed in an in-depth manner or it has been overlooked completely by these two theories.


First of all i want to thank God for making my dream of achieving a Master’s degree in Europe come true. I started this journey without a clear picture of how i will make it through, but God in His own divine ways, made it possible.

I wish to express gratitude to Aalborg University and more so the Department of Development and International Relations, for giving me an opportunity to pursue my Masters in Denmark. This program has not only widened my knowledge base on development issues, but also through my interaction with student from all over the world ,my entire world view has changed and I have come to appreciate beauty in diversity more than before.

My appreciation specifically goes to Osman Farah (Supervisor) for his continued support and encouraging insights during the entire thesis writing period and for his supervision on other previous semester projects. I have gained a great wealth of knowledge during our discussions.

My special regards goes to the following people: - Buffalo and his family, Jergon & Chresten all from Farso and Hans – Global Medical Aid & Nura from Norresundby .I also cannot forget to thank all my friends in Aalborg, Farso and Copenhagen. I am grateful to each and every one of you, for the role you played in making my stay in Denmark during my entire education easy and comfortable.

Finally my gratitude goes to the Kenya ICT Authority for supporting me towards this cause and believing in me. I cannot forget my family in Kenya, I owe all this to you, more so to my mum Joyce, thank you for being my strong pillar.

List of Acronyms

ADC Agriculture Development Cooperation

CIPEV Commission of Inquiry into Post-Election Violence

ICC International Criminal Court

MP Member of Parliament

KADU Kenya African Democratic Union

KANU Kenya African National Union

KARI Kenya Agriculture Research Institute

KAU Kenya African Union

KCA Kikuyu Central Association

KNDR Kenya National Dialogue & Reconciliation

KPU Kenya People’s Union

TJRC Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission

TNA The National Alliance

USIP United States Institute of Peace

ICG International Crisis Group

INADEV Institute for African Development

URP United Republic Party

LDP Liberal Democratic Party

MOU Memorandum of Association

ODM Orange Democratic Movement

OHCHR Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

KNCHR Kenya National Commission on Human Rights

NLC National Land Commission

UNHCR United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

GOK Government of Kenya

Table of Contents

Abstract 2

Acknowledgement 3

List of Acronyms 4


1.1 Why Kenya 7

1.1.1 Types of Conflict 7

1.2 Objective:- 7

1.2.1 Research Questions 8

1.3 Motivation behind the research 8

1.4 Relevance 8

1.5 Problem Formulation 9

1.6 Concepts Definition 9

1.7 Summary of chapter One 10


2.1 Land and Ethnic Groups at: Pre-colonization, Colonization and Post Colonization 11

2.1.1 Pre-colonization: 12

2.1.2 Colonization 12

2.1.3 Post-colonization 13

2.2 Ethnic Groups in Kenya 14

2.3. Land Ownership and Distribution. 15

2.4 Land Reforms under Historical Injustices. 16

2.5 Previous Ethnic Conflicts 16

2.5.1 Election of 1992 17

2.5.2 Election of 1997 17


3.1 Research Design 19

3.2 Sources of Data 19

3.2.1 Challenges in Collecting Data 20

3.3 Reliability, Replicability and Validity 20

3.3 Relationship between Research and Theory 21

3.4 Paradigms in Study of Ethnicity 21

3.4.2 Constructivist Approach: This is the opposite of inherent approach as it argues that ethnic identities are not fixed, they evolve and they are constructed by people. As Jesse and Williams notes “identities are molded, refabricated and mobilized in accord with reigning cultural scripts and centers of power” (Jesse& Williams 2011). As individual interact in a society, values and behavior change and this reconstructs the existing identity and it acquire a different form and shape. To them ethnic identities are not historically conflictual by nature but when there is tension in a social system, and negative ethnicity have been constructed on a social ground, then conflict is inevitable. Esman argues that ethnic communities are meant to meet changing needs and they are also passing and new ones are born as people’s needs and aspirations changes. He further argues that individuals can belong to more than one ethnic group and they can easily move from one group to another (Esman 2004). 22

3.4.3 Instrumentalism Approach: 22

3.4.4 Institutional perspective: 23

3.5 Sum up 23


4.1. General Information about Kenya. 24

Figure (i) Kenya’s position on the map of East Africa. 25

Figure (ii) Territorial Demarcation and Distribustion of ethnic groups in Kenya. 27

Figure (ii) Kenya’s population as of 2009 in ‘000,000 28

Figure (iii) High Potential Agriculture Land per Capita. 29

Figure (iv) Migration to Rift Valley by different ethnic groups in ‘000. 30

4.2 Afrobarometer Data 30

Figure (i): Kenyan or Ethnic indentity 30

Figure (ii): How close people are to political party 32

Figure (iii) : How often party competition leads to conflict. 33

Figure(iv) : Fear of political intimidation 34

Figure (v) : Level of trust 35

Figure vi: Does your Member of Parliament (MP) listen? 36

Figure vii : Are government officilals corrupt 37

Table 1 : Statements that could incite violence. 38

Figure (ii) Illegal allocation of Agriculture Developement Coorporation farms. 40

Figure(iii) :The main beneficiary of (ADC) Farms 41

Figure iv : Main Beneficiaries of the illegal allocation of Kenya Agriculture Research Institute 42

4.4 TJRC Data 43

Table II :- Prominent People accussed to have incited people 43

Figure ii : Perception about members of different ethnic groups 46

Figure iii : Percentage of Cabinet position held by various ethnic group since independence. 48

4.5 Interviews 49


5.2.1 Referendum campaign inciteful messages 52

5.2.2 General election inciteful messages 53

5.2Political land scape 55

5.3.3Land grabbing of ADC and KARI farms 57

5.4Link between Land, Ethnicity and Conflict 59


6.1 Primordial Theory 61

6.1.1 Limitations 62

6.2 Elite Manipulation. 63

6.2.1 Limitations 65

6.3 Aspects of Ethnic Conflict in Kenya That Theories Do Not Provide 65


References 71


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