French Cultural Diplomacy towards Kenya; 1958-2020
Odhiambo, Onyango Evans
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Cultural diplomacy has become a popular discipline of study in international relations in the post-cold war period. France has a record of accomplishment in its cultural diplomatic engagements since the 19th century. This study contributes to the growing literature on cultural diplomacy in international relations by discussing the French Cultural diplomacy towards Kenya, 1958-2020. The objectives of the study were to evaluate the basis adopted by France in her cultural diplomacy in Africa since 1958, to examine the issues that shaped the evolution of French cultural diplomacy towards Kenya from 1963-1994, to analyse the strategies adopted by France in her cultural diplomacy towards Kenya,1995-2020. The study used soft power and constructivism theories in international relations to discuss the research findings. This study was premised on the assumption that state actors and non-state actors were the dominant agents that promoted French cultural diplomacy in Africa in general and Kenya in particular. The study justification was based on the argument that there is scanty knowledge of French cultural diplomacy in Kenya. The significance of the study was to demonstrate that cultural diplomacy is an effective soft power tool to advance a nation‟s political, economic, and social hegemony. This study used a descriptive and exploratory methodological design. The study employed primary and secondary sources of data. Purposive sampling was used in selecting respondents who participated in the oral interviews and focus group discussions. The researcher observed all ethical considerations. This study established that France used several strategies to institutionalize cultural diplomacy in Kenya. The strategies included; the popularisation of the French language, provision of education to Kenyans in France, exchange programmes targeting different interest groups, development of French electronic and print media in Kenya, promotion of French cuisine, beauty products, and recreational facilities in Kenya and signing of bilateral agreements between France and Kenya. Finally, the study observed that French cultural diplomacy towards Africa in general and Kenya, in particular, created an enabling environment for France to venture into various infrastructural and other business enterprises in the African continent. Thus, cultural diplomacy was a handmaiden of French soft power in Africa.