Instability in Kenya
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Kenya has long been considered a bastion of stability in East Africa. Kenyans have not shared in the history of ethnic civil wars that their neighbors such as Somalia, Rwanda, and The Sudan have dealt with, however, the presidential election of 2007 threatened to change this. The widely contested election brought ethnic tensions to the foreground and revealed long seeded animosity between Kenya's various ethnic groups. Why ethnicity plays such a strong role in a democratic state is a complex question, which I will examine through historical context. One simplistic answer would be to blame the arbitrary nature of state boarders as partitioned off by Europeans at the Berlin Conference of 1885, however, that answer takes away the agency of modem African leaders and does not allow for the possibility of real change. That simplistic answer also lumps all of the diverse states and cultures of Africa into one large group and does not take into account their differing demography and histories, that is why I will be looking specifically at the case of Kenya to eliminate broad generalizations. In the case of Kenya I will be doing a historic overview and reviewing three main causes of the instability of the state: the land redistribution after independence, the personalization of the presidency, and the loss of legitimacy of state violence. I will also be looking at the 2007 Presidential election, and the violence that occurred due to said weaknesses of the state. The uniting theme of the causes of instability I will review is ethnicity. It plays a critical role in the manner in which the state functions.