Politicisation of Ethnicity in Kenya

from NATO Civil-Military Fusion Centre
Published on 25 Feb 2013

By Foard Copeland 25 February 2013


The Kenyan population consists of 38 million people, representing over 40 different ethnic groups. No single group constitutes a majority. The largest group, Kikuyu, comprises seventeen per cent of the population. During the colonial era, British administrators capitalised on a complex network of tribal relations to amass land and centralise power, drawing political districts that somewhat mirrored ethnic boundaries. Although headlines often summarise political conflicts in Kenya as the result of ethnic cleavages and long- standing inter-ethnic animosities, such polarisation is not altogether common. Typically, coexistence between various ethnic groups is the norm with a significant portion of the Kenyan population residing in ethnically integrated urban communities.