An Experiment in Devolution: National Unity and the Deconstruction of the Kenyan State

In 2010, the Kenyan people promulgated a new constitution, containing within it one of the most ambitious experiments in devolution the world has ever seen. The proposition, of governance decentralised, challenges at a fundamental level the assumption that progress in African governance comes through centralised, bureaucratised statehood. The book tries out analysis of the degree to which politics includes and unites in evaluating Kenya’s shift to 47 county governments. The point of the book is not merely to proclaim Kenya’s devolution experiment as a success-story but to offer fieldwork and survey evidence on the need to shift our paradigm from assessment of “state strength”, to assessment of political unity when we do political science. We need to suspend our assessments of institutional strengthening through constitutional change and first question what we even mean by strength. To do this, Dominic Burbidge delves into the new political space afforded by Kenya’s devolution reforms, arguing that they force us to change our very basis to evaluating political progress in Africa.