Decolonization & Independence in Kenya, 1940-93

By B. A. Ogot; W. R. Ochieng | Go to book overview
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ment. Examples abound in the world where economic progress has been crafted on culture -- for example, in Japan. If culture is to lead to reaffirmation of identity and dignity, it must be closely woven in a country's institutions -- in politics, economics and individual relations. It is only in this way that it can cease to be considered a relic of the past to be preserved as a tourist attraction.

'Dis-Africanisation' of Africa and its culture has international dimensions that should be considered. This is particularly relevant to Africa's relationship with the African diaspora. If African culture is destroyed, and if values associated with the continent are hard to find in existence, then Africa denies its descendants overseas a source of cultural inspiration.


This chapter has argued that decolonization is a phenomenon of multiple dimensions. Although it is convenient to look at political independence as the most visible and dramatic form of decolonization, it would be a mistake to equate it with decolonization. This is a process which encompasses economic independence, cultural renewal, identity, integrity and a drive towards an independent existence not unduly interfered with from overseas. Political independence provides the first and most crucial forum from which to pursue these interrelated goals as a bid is made for development and for political empowerment of the local population.

There is a point at which political leadership can in fact, through its policy decisions, subvert national efforts towards decolonization. In Nigeria, Chinua Achebe has in forthright terms stated that the leadership is the problem. 'The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership.' 66 Leadership does not merely govern and administer but also co-ordinates a national thought process towards an uplifting national vision of where the society should proceed after attaining political independence. This can be the case even if some of these goals were stated on party platforms before uhuru.

It has been repeatedly pointed out in this chapter that adherence to the colonial model of administration leads to authoritarian rule impatient with opposition or restraints on its power. Maintenance of inherited economic institutions tends to reinforce exploitation of the country by foreign (or even local) companies and does not provide a viable model for national economic development. These institutions reinforce neo- colonialism. But, as Amilcar Cabral observed, 'so long as imperialism is in existence, an independent African state must be a liberation movement in power, or it will not be independent'. 67 A successful liberation


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