Justifying Non-Violent Civil Disobedience within the Kenyan Context: A Moral Perspective

  • RMJ Oduor University of Nairobi


This paper employs the critical and analytical techniques of philosophical reflection to present a moral justification for the use of non-violent civil disobedience by Kenyan citizens in pursuit of their aspirations. It sets out with a brief review of political disobedience in Kenya from the advent of the British invasion and domination of the country in the late nineteenth century to the present. Next, it examines the nature of non-violent civil disobedience, outlining the views of four of its most influential advocates, namely, Étienne de La Boétie, Henry David Thoreau, Mohandas Karmachand Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. It then offers a moral justification for non-violent civil disobedience by presenting nine arguments in its favour, with special reference to the Kenyan context. Thereafter, it answers six objections to non-violent civil disobedience. The paper concludes that it is high time that Kenyans gave serious consideration to a commitment to non-violent civil disobedience.


Key Words. Civil disobedience, moral justification, violence, Kenya


Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya (PAK)

New Series, Vol.3 No.1, June 2011, pp.21-59

Author Biography

RMJ Oduor, University of Nairobi
Reginald M.J. Oduor is a Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Nairobi, Kenya, and the founding Editor-in-Chief of the New Series of Thought and Practice. His main philosophical interests are in political philosophy, ethics and philosophy of religion. He is also the Chairman of the Society of Professionals with Visual Disabilities based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2076-7714
print ISSN: 0251-043X