Culture & Development: Lessons learnt from the Post-Election Violence in Kenya

  • Frederick kang'ethe Iraki United States International University Kenya


Culture encompasses, without being reducible to, values and norms that underpin a people's way of thinking and doing things. Development on the other hand can be analyzed as any progression toward a goal. If this is the case then we instantly appreciate the nexus between the two concepts. A community will have a certain perception of the world (culture) and how it would like to transform that world to its own good (development) through various initiatives and processes.

Some scholars argue that development should be anchored in a people's culture. It cannot be brought to them from the outside because that would be someone else' idea of development (Boukary 2003). Others might argue that development can be introduced from outside to create awareness, then the culture of the people accommodates and domesticates it. In market studies terms, development should be a felt need by a community to develop a product in the case of the first theory or a product introduced into the market that people learn to appreciate in the latter scenario. We believe the two models are complementary.

This paper discusses the concepts of culture and development with respect to the post-election violence in Kenya that left 1,200 people dead and another 400,000 displaced from their homes. We recast the violence within the wider context of the history, cultural diversity and economics of Kenya. How can an island of peace for 45 years plunge into senseless killings overnight that negate a sound development record of 7% GDP growth?

Key words: culture, development, violence, ethnicity, values

Author Biography

Frederick kang'ethe Iraki, United States International University Kenya
Dr. Iraki is an Associate Professor of French and founder editor of the Journal of Language, Technology & Entrepreneurship in Africa.