Erlesenes Erforschen (Online): Power and the Presidency in Kenya

 © Cambridge University Press

© Cambridge University Press

Erlesenes Erforschen (Online): Power and the Presidency in Kenya

Mittwoch, 5. Mai 2021, 17:00 Uhr, Online (Livestream)

Im Rahmen der Reihe Erlesenes Erforschen  wurde das Buch Power and the Presidency in Kenya von Anaïs Angelo präsentiert.

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Birgit Athumani Hango | Head of the African an Middle Eastern Studies Library / University of Vienna

Book presentation and discussion

Anaïs Angelo | Post-Doc at the Department of African Studies / University of Vienna


Kirsten Rüther | Professor at the Department of African Studies / University of Vienna

About the author

Anaïs Angelo is a post-doctoral researcher at the Department of African Studies, University of Vienna. Originally trained as a political scientist in Sciences Po Paris, she specialized in African studies at the University of Michigan and completed her Ph.D. at the Department of History and Civilization at the European University Institute in Florence.

About the book

Anaïs Angelo, Power and the Presidency in Kenya: The Jomo Kenyatta Years (Cambridge University Press, Cambrigde, 2020)

Whenever an African president is elected, re-elected, leaves power or dies in office, the almost unlimited scope of presidential powers in African countries is, once again, on the agenda. Media reporters regularly publish lists of the longest-serving African presidents and political scientists have offered a myriad of tools to explore presidential systems in African countries. But why did, upon independence, almost all African states adopt a presidential system of rule? Put differently: what are the historical origins of presidential power in postcolonial African countries?

Based on extensive archival research, Power and the Presidency in Kenya: The Jomo Kenyatta Years retraces how Jomo Kenyatta became the first president of independent Kenya (in 1963) and shaped the most powerful state institution: the Office of the President. Few expected Kenyatta to become president; even fewer expected Kenya to become a presidential republic with almost unlimited power allocated to the president, while the national assembly and provincial administration were deprived of any significant power. Kenyatta knew he had more enemies than friends; he also knew he could use state resources to hold an extremely divided political elite together.

Kenyatta's role was to hold a fragile presidential system together while staying aloof from popular discontent. Far from the myth of the omnipotent father of the nation, big man or dictator, the strength of the Kenyan presidential system was built on divisions and uncertainty. This book shows that African presidencies have their own history, one that calls for reconstructing the actors' agency in negotiating presidential powers, for the worse or the best of their interest, yet always with a refined political intelligence.

Universität Wien