Kenya is a country characterized by immense diversity, encompassing many different cultural, linguistic and religious groups.
The power-sharing agreement that ended Kenya’s post-election violence in 2008 defined a broad program of political and social reforms. As part of this process, in August 2010, Kenya adopted a new constitution. This reform aims to disperse the power of the presidency, changing the “winner-takes-all” political culture. It also aims to put an end to the corrosive politics of ethnic competition, which fosters violence.
Implementing the new constitution – which defines respect for diversity as a core national value – is the next difficult step.
In 2003, an international pollster declared Kenyans the most optimistic people in the world. The situation was looking up: the Moi regime had ended, a new inter-ethnic “Rainbow Coalition” had just been elected, and a populist constitutional reform process promised liberal democracy.
And yet, five years later, the country erupted in violence. The crisis left over a thousand dead and many more homeless. An internationally brokered Reconciliation Accord ended the crisis and launched Kenyans into another phase of reform.
Kenya’s new constitution – which enshrines respect for diversity as a national value – is an achievement and a reason for optimism. But transforming decades of divide-and-rule politics presents a major challenge.
The 2007-2008 post-election violence in Kenya represented an extreme manifestation of pluralism breakdown. The Centre has been working to learn more about the underlying causes of that breakdown in an effort to both strengthen respect for diversity in the country and learn from the Kenyan response.
Highlights from Work in Kenya
- Kosmopolis Institute Pluralism Summer School, 2014: The Centre sponsored the participation of Kenyan civil society activists in the 2014 Kosmopolis Institute Pluralism Summer School in South Africa.
- Nairobi Roundtable: The Centre hosted a local roundtable to follow up on the Kosmopolis Institute Summer School, in order to give participants an opportunity to share their learning.
- Kenya’s Constitution 5 Years On: The Centre is supporting research examining the extent to which Kenya has implemented the constitutional provisions focused on strengthening national unity and national identity.
- Pluralism and the Private Sector in Kenya: The Centre is supporting research into how Kenya’s private sector understands and internalizes pluralism
- Aga Khan Academy Pluralism in Education Case Study: The Centre finalized a study to examine the approach and experience of integrating pluralism into the curriculum at the Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa, Kenya. The study’s key findings and lessons have been useful in helping to inform the Centre’s work in education.
Implementation of the 2010 Kenyan Constitution: The First Five Years
| January 2017
Roundtable with Civil Society Leaders
| December 2011
Kenya Pluralism Forum and Book Launch
| April 2014
Board Member Kofi Annan Discusses Sectarian Violence in Kenya
| May 2013
Pluralism Forum – Kenya – Ghai Bio
Yash Pal Ghai | January 2014
Pluralism Forum – Kenya – Kanyinga Bio
Karuti Kanyinga | January 2014
Pluralism Forum – Kenya – Kameri-Mbote
Patricia Kameri-Mbote | January 2014
Pluralism Forum Canada and India – Bhargava Bio
Rajeev Bhargava | January 2014
2013 Annual Pluralism Lecture – Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan | May 2013
2013 Annual Pluralism Lecture – His Highness the Aga Khan Opening Remarks
His Highness the Aga Khan | May 2013