Power to Uhuru’: Youth Identity and Generational Politics in Kenya’s 2002 Elections
Kagwanja, Peter Mwangi
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Faced with the challenge of a new, multi-ethnic political coalition, President Daniel arap Moi shifted the axis of the 2002 electoral contest from ethnicity to the politics of generational conflict. The strategy backfired, ripping his party wide open and resulting in its humiliating defeat in the December 2002 general elections. Nevertheless, the discourse of a generational change of guard as a blueprint for a more accountable system of governance won the support of some youth movements like Mungiki. This article examines how the movement’s leadership exploited the generational discourse in an effort to capture power. Examining the manipulation of generational and ethnic identities in patrimonial politics, the article argues that the instrumentalization of ethnicity in African politics has its corollary in the concomitant instrumentalization of other identities — race, class, gender, clan, age and religion.