Kenyan Visions of the Future Between Individual Advancement, Uncertainty and Political Hopes

Monday, 11 July 2016: 09:45
Location: Hörsaal 33 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Dieter NEUBERT, University of Bayreuth, Germany
Florian STOLL, University of Bayreuth, Germany
Kenyan visions of the future seem to be quite uniform: individual advancement via education and entrepreneurial activities and a strong support for economic development and a democratic society. A closer look shows remarkable differences. At first, the majority of Kenyans including the biggest part of the middle class actually live in a situation of uncertainty. Even well paid jobs or a running business cannot guarantee a certain future because of economic instability and weak social security systems. The way how this uncertainty is managed shows different schemes of life linked to different visions of the future and a different range of future planning. Second, the overwhelming support for democracy is linked to quite different political expectations. A widely shared expectation is that democracy will lead to economic prosperity via the control of corruption inside the powerful political elite. This goes in line with international development debates on good governance. There are groups that work for a political future with a system of checks and balances, civil rights including minority rights. However, corruption is still endemic and other groups in the society accept it as long as they, and their regional-ethnic constituency benefits of clientelistic favors. In a similar way democracy is understood as simple majority rule on national but also on local level. This understanding marches very-well micro-nationalist tendencies.

The different future visions do not simply follow socio-economic class interests and they are marked by rising socio-cultural differences with new relations between individualism and family and group orientation and/or different concepts of political freedom. Therefore, there are no future visions of “the South” or “Kenya” in general but the future visions are sign for an ongoing process of social differentiation.