Karuti Kanyinga and Duncan Okello, eds. Tensions and Reversals in Democratic Transitions: The Kenya 2007 General Elections.
Nairobi: Society for International Development, in conjunction with the Institute for Development Studies, University of Nairobi, 2010. 709 pp. Notes. Paper.
Reviewed by Frank Holmquist of Hampshire College in the African Studies Review, Volume 54, No. 2:
This is a big book of more than seven hundred pages with eighteen lengthy, theoretically engaged, and well-referenced essays. There are editorial mistakes, but they are not significant diversions. The authors, who represent a variety of disciplines, are almost all Kenyan scholars. The essays speak more to the nature of Kenyan politics that led up to the election with the near collapse of the state, and less to the violence itself. As a result, they are an important contribution to understanding the election crises and its aftermath, and to the broad study of Kenyan politics and democratization.
I would also note that Holmquist identifies the piece by Karuti Kanyinga, James Long and David Ndii as “the best assessment to date” of how the voting actually went in the presidential election.
I will be at the African Studies Association annual meeting in Washington next week and didn’t want to neglect to include my friends from the academy in reminding readers of what is available now to better understand what might play out over the next year in Kenyan politics.
The book was “launched” in Nairobi just before the constitutional referendum, but the message was considered inconvenient by some of my esteemed friends in the media and it did not get as much coverage as it might have otherwise. This is from The Standard on July 26, 2010:
Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) Chairman Isaack Hassan has assured Kenyans of a free and fair vote at the referendum.
This comes at a time when some ‘No’ leaders have accused ‘Yes’ of plotting to rig the August 4 plebiscite.
The IIEC boss said he was keen to prove to Kenyans and the world the country has moved on after the bungled 2007 General Election.
“Before the violence, Kenya was seen as a beacon of democracy in Africa. That is why we want to repair that shameful part of our history by having a clean and fair referendum,” he said.
Added Hassan: “Many of our leaders don’t seem to have learnt from the post-election violence. For them, campaigns are just a matter of hurling insults and making loose claims. This must change to save this country.
He spoke during the launch of a book, Tensions and Reversals in Democratic Transitions: The Kenya 2007 General Elections at Serena Hotel, yesterday.
Swedish Ambassador to Kenya Ann Dismorr urged the IIEC to conduct an unimpeachable referendum.
University of Nairobi lecturer Karuti Kanyinga, a co-editor of the book, said election malpractices should be punishable by death since they are the main cause of election violence.