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Between Hope and Despair, 1963-2011

Daniel Branch

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An illuminating account of Kenya's first fifty years of independence and the issues that block the nation's path to prosperity and justice

On December 12, 1963, people across Kenya joyfully celebrated independence from British colonial rule, anticipating a bright future of prosperity and social justice. As the nation approaches the fiftieth anniversary of its independence, however, the people's dream remains elusive. During its first five decades Kenya has experienced assassinations, riots, coup attempts, ethnic violence, and political corruption. The ranks of the disaffected, the unemployed, and the poor have multiplied. In this authoritative and insightful account of Kenya's history from 1963 to the present day, Daniel Branch sheds new light on the nation's struggles and the complicated causes behind them.

Branch describes how Kenya constructed itself as a state and how ethnicity has proved a powerful force in national politics from the start, as have disorder and violence. He explores such divisive political issues as the needs of the landless poor, international relations with Britain and with the Cold War superpowers, and the direction of economic development. Tracing an escalation of government corruption over time, the author brings his discussion to the present, paying particular attention to the rigged election of 2007, the subsequent compromise government, and Kenya's prospects as a still-evolving independent state.

Daniel Branch is associate professor of African history, University of Warwick. He lives in Oxfordshire, UK.

“[An] engaging and important book.”—Philip Murphy, International Affairs

“…..there had been a glaring shortage of really good general works on its post-independence history. [Kenya] not only plugs that hole, but has much to say too about the possible futures of many other poor post-colonial states.”—Stephen Howe, The Independent

“Branch has produced a largely narrative account, accessible to the general, non-specialist reader, and an excellent primer for students on African Studies courses interested in Kenya.”—Warris Vianni, Awaaz

“…The greatest strength of the book is its scope. Branch masterfully pulls together five decades of often baffling complexity doublespeak and cover-ups, into an insightful and highly readable story. Kenyan historiography has been begging for such a book.”

 “…This book’s achievements deserve to be celebrated: combining scholarly rigour with accessibility, it stands as the best account of post-colonial Kenyan politics.”—Edward Goodman, The English Historical Review

ISBN: 9780300148763
Publication Date: November 15, 2011
352 pages, 6 x 9
20 b/w illus.