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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Vigilantes, Violence and the Politics of Public Order in Kenya
Author:Anderson, David M.
Year:2002
Periodical:African Affairs: The Journal of the Royal African Society
Volume:101
Issue:405
Period:October
Pages:531-555
Language:English
Geographic term:Kenya
Subjects:politics
organized crime
national security
Politics and Government
Law, Human Rights and Violence
Urbanization and Migration
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/3518466
Abstract:This article examines recent violence in Nairobi in the context of increased vigilante activity throughout Kenya, and relates this to the broader political context of violence in the run-up to the next general election, which is expected to take place before the end of 2002. The starting point for the analysis is the conflict between two rival vigilante groups in Nairobi's Kariobangi North estate, Mungiki and the Taliban. It is argued that existing scholarly interpretations of Mungiki need to be reassessed in view of recent violent and criminal activities linked to the movement, and in light of the shifting political position of its leaders and the ethnocentric posture they have adopted. The increasing prevalence of vigilante groups in the city is shown to be partly a reflection of growing criminal activities, especially extortion, and partly the consequence of struggles for political control in the city, where the ruling party KANU has only slender support. The New Vigilantes' of Nairobi exploit urban insecurity for materialist gain, but they have also merged with the Majeshi la Wazee ('Armies of the Elders') that have long been deployed to protect' the interests of their political clients. In this context, heightening urban violence is seen to be both criminal and political in character, and it is argued that it is likely that vigilante groups will again be used as political instruments in the electoral struggle for the city. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]
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