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'The dilemma of councillors': The history of local government in Kenya, c. 1945 - 2010

MOSS, NATALIE,CHARLOTTE (2016) 'The dilemma of councillors': The history of local government in Kenya, c. 1945 - 2010. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis examines the history of local government in Kenya from the late-colonial period up to the passage of Kenya's new constitution in 2010. The development of local government was a hallmark of the Colonial Office's policy for Africa in the post-war period. In spite of this, scholarship on post-colonial Kenya has tended to overlook local authorities. The 2010 constitution devolves power to forty-seven new county governments; in light of this, this thesis considers how the local state has historically functioned in practice. In doing so, it contributes to the literature on decentralisation, neo-patrimonialism and the state in Africa. Historiography of modern Kenya has focused on elite politics and the political dynamics of the highly centralised state. The prevailing narrative of local government in Kenya has been a story of formal decline. By reading the narrative of the Kenyan state from the bottom-up, this thesis explores the development of competing ideas of government in Kenya, and the way this has shaped the practices of state institutions and those who hold local office. It draws on three case study councils - Nakuru Municipal, Kilifi and Kakamega County Councils - to critique the popular depiction of corrupt and self-serving local leaders. Contrary to this, the moral world of councillors is presented as one that was full of challenging and competing demands yet was not devoid of an ethos of civic responsibility. Despite the many financial and institutional weaknesses of local authorities, councillors retained a level of legitimacy within their communities through their roles as patrons and clients in local and national political networks. The thesis thus explores the interplay between 'elite' and 'deep' politics, arguing that the pressure on politicians to distribute patronage and provide welfare support was particularly acute for councillors. By examining these pressures, this thesis studies the tension between official policy and the everyday practices of local government.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > History, Department of
Thesis Date:2016
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:26 Apr 2016 12:43

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