This history of the political economy of Kenya is the first full length study of the development of the colonial state in Africa.
Professor Berman argues that the colonial state was shaped by the contradictions between maintaining effective political control with limited coercive force and ensuring the profitable articulation of metropolitan and settler capitalism with African societies.
This dialectic of domination resulted in both the uneven transformation of indigenous societies and in the reconstruction of administrative control in the inter-war period.
The study traces the evolution of the colonial state from its skeletal beginnings in the 1890s to the complex bureaucracy of the post-1945 era which managed the growing integration of the colony with international capital. These contradictions led to the political crisis of the Mau Mau emergency in 1952 and to the undermining of the colonial state.
The book is based on extensive primary sources including numerous interviews with Kenyan and British participants. The analysis moves from the micro-level of the relationship of the District Commissioners and the African population to the macro-level of the state and the political economy of colonialism.
Professor Berman uses the case of Kenya to make a sophisticated contribution to the theory of the state and to the understanding of the dynamics of the development of modern African political and economic institutions.
The politics of identity and ethnicity will remain a fundamental characteristic of African modernity. For this reason, historians and anthropologists have joined political scientists in a discussion about the ways in which democracy can develop in multicultural societies. In Ethnicity and Democracy in Africa, the contributors address why ethnicity represents a political problem, how the problem manifests itself, and which institutional models offer ways of ameliorating the challenges that ethnicity poses to democratic nation-building.
This long-awaited book is a considerable revision in the understanding of the history of colonial Kenya and, more widely, colonialism in Africa. There is a substantial amount of new work and this is interlocked with shared areas of concern that the authors have been exploring since 1976.
The authors investigate major themes. These include the conquest origins and subsequent development of the colonial state, the contradictory social forces that articulated African societies to European capitalism, and the creation of new political communities and changing meanings of ethnicity in Africa, in the context of social differentiation and class formation. There is substantial new work on the problems of Mau Mau and of wealth, poverty and civic virtue in Kikuyu political thought.
The authors make a fresh contribution to a deeper historical understanding of the development of contemporary Kenyan society and, in particular, of the British and Kukuyu origins of Mau Mau and the emergency of the 1950s.
They also highlight some of the shortcomings of ideas about development, explore the limitations of narrowly structuralist Marxist theory of the state, and reflect on the role of history in the future of Africa.
Book Two on Violence and Ethnicity gives new insights into popular consciousness, into revolutionary change and into the subtle realities of ethnicity; it will be of particular value to readers of Ngugi.