Political participation and alienation of racial minorities in Africa: the Kenya Asian Community Experience (1963-2012)
The rapid expansion of the study of political participation in the last fifty years reflects the growing relevance of government and politics for citizens in modern societies and the crucial significance of citizens' involvement in democratic decision-making. Nonetheless, the immediate post-independence period in Africa and subsequently the introduction of multiparty politics in the 1990s, although hailed as a critical turning point for democratization process negatively heralded unprecedented era of disillusionment and marginalization of racial and ethnic minorities in politics. In East Africa, the' Asian or Indian Question' has been a significant theme and a controversial issue in the colonial and post-colonial politics. In Kenya, the Asian community's political participation and representation has been minimal and steadily declining, despite significant historical and contemporary contribution in the political, economic and social development. It is against this background that this study broadly examined and focused on three analytical questions in relation to Asian minority community political participation. Firstly, to what extent have the Asian community participated and been represented in Kenya's politics? Secondly, what are the obstacles to political participation of the Asians in Kenya? And thirdly, what are the strategies and measures that can and have been pursued to increase Asian political participation in Kenya? The study utilized participatory democracy theory and also incorporated representative, liberal and deliberative democracy theories to explicate the various aspects of political participation. Through purposive and snowballing sampling techniques, supplemented by secondary literature, the study found out that the Asian community political alienation is due to existing conditions of colonial and historical legacy, structural, institutional, constitutional, legal, social, cultural, IV economic and external barriers in the political system that rave resulted into poor and declining Asian political participation in Kenya. The conclusion proposes both long and short term interventions to ensure political participation and representation through political reforms, racial integration, equality and inclusivity.