Post-colonialism and the politics of Kenya (review)
Post-colonialism as a framework of analysis remains subject to debate and controversy. Although post-colonialism has been around for close to two decades, it has in recent times been a fiercely contested and debated paradigm. Given its newness and elegance in the world of academic discourse, it is not surprising that its reception has been characterized by a great deal of excitement, confusion and in many cases scepticism. Debates surrounding the study have laid claims to questions of the legitimacy of post-colonialism as a separate analytical entity in the academic discourse, its validity as a theoretical formulation as well as its disciplinary boundaries and political implications. Also, the prefix 'post' has complicated matters as it implies an 'aftermath' in two senses - temporal, as in coming after, and ideological, as in supplanting. It is the second implication that the critics of the study have found contestable. The contestation has been on the dividing line between what is colonial and its link to what counts as post-colonial. The argument has been that if the inequities of colonial rule have not been erased, it is perhaps premature to proclaim the demise of colonialism. The intervention being couched by ardent post-colonial theorists is that there is a co-existence of both post-colonial and neo-colonial conditions in many Third World countries and one has not erased the other. In this sense, whereas such countries are formally considered independent, they remain economically and culturally entrapped and dependent on their former colonial powers at the same time. Whereas the importance of formal decolonisation cannot be gainsaid, the fact that unequal relations of colonial rule are re-inscribed into the contemporary imbalances between the 'First' and 'Third' World nations cannot be dismissed as well. Post-colonialism and the Politics of Kenya gives us asuccinct entryintothis unique approach to the study of Kenyan politics. Contrary to many studies of post-colonialism that usually tend to become amorphous and sometimes rob themselves of historical specificity, the author ably locates this text within a defined disciplinary and geographical space. It is on this strength that the book emerges as a lucid, judicious and representative text whose influence in Kenyan historiography could be decisive. Rather than post-colonialism being merely treated as "the latest catchall term to dazzle the academic mind" as observed by Russell Jacoby 1, Ahluwalia Pal underscores and discounts the sources of misreading associated with the study of post-colonialism in general.