Ethnicity and political participation in Kenya: a case study of the Nandi 1962 -2012
The objective of this research study paper is to determine the role of the Nandi community as a strong political participant in Kenya’s politics and secondly I intend to create the judgment based on retrospective historical trends of their conflict oriented reaction to political activity outcomes. The Nandi are a sub-group of the Kalenjin-speaking ethnic community found in East Africa. Their dialect of Kalenjin is classified in the Nilotic branch of the Nilo-Saharan language family. In Kenya they inhabit the western highlands counties of Nandi, Uasin-Gishu, Trans-Nzoia, Nakuru and parts of Narok. Before British colonization they were sedentary cattle-herders. Their settlements were more or less evenly distributed rather than being grouped into villages. Like other Nilotic peoples they were noted warriors. The community affairs were run through the council of elders in consultation with the seer or prophet. The nation-state of the Nandi was not only a territorial entity associated with nation of Nandi. It was sovereign as well. They had all the attributes of any state. The coming of the British interfered with this simple political infrastructure to their advantage. Fifty years of British Nandi coexistence overshadowed the political ambitions of the Nandi for armed political freedom from the British. The incomplete dominance by the colonialists allowed the Nandi some room for their economic subsistence through herding in the native reserves. This pseudo conflict management did not last and the community joined other Kenyans in clamouring for self-rule albeit at very late stage. After independence the community continued to search for suitable political vehicle that offered stable political participation in national affairs. Since independence the Nandi have been members of four prominent political parties in Kenya. Many scholars have written about the political behaviour of the Kalenjin people. However, there is little literature explaining these people’s political participation. This research paper will attempt to fill this existing gap.