Ethnic nationalism and its impact on resource distribution: a comparative study of Kenya and other select African countries

Author: Lauryn Kerubo Ogendi

Ogendi, Lauryn Kerubo, 2022 Ethnic nationalism and its impact on resource distribution: a comparative study of Kenya and other select African countries, Flinders University, College of Business, Government and Law

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This thesis examines the impact of ethnic nationalism on resource distribution, focusing on Kenya and comparing it with other select countries in Africa. The countries in contemporary Africa are characteristically comprised of different ethnic groups, and loyalties to the respective ethnic group sometimes frustrate the country's cohesion and result in some outcomes such as skewed resource distribution. This study adopts a structured-focus approach to examine Nigeria, Ghana, and Cameroon and compares the impact of ethnic nationalism in these countries to Kenya. Study findings show resource distribution along ethnic lines in Nigeria, resulting in unequal resource distribution between the Northerners and Southerners. In Ghana, there is a practice of gift-giving to rally political support. The political party in power usually gets there through support from certain individuals and groups, and after they get to power, they pay back by awarding contracts to their favorites. This results in huge disparities, such as between the Eastern region and the Western region in Ghana. The latter has a poverty rate of 70.9% compared to the national rate of 23.4 percent. Cameroon has the greatest evidence of clientelistic relations. As shown by President Paul Biya, the president in power has formal and informal appointees that are tasked with reinforcing the political power of the president. They do so as puppets of the president and have the mandate to use state resources to benefit the political ambition of the president. Therefore, the citizens that put the president in power and those in support of the leadership get a share of the national resources. At the same time, the opposition group and their followers are left out. The same trend is evidenced in Kenya, where resource distribution depends on the tribe of the individual at the helm of government. Research conducted shows research distribution in favor of the president’s co-ethnics, which shifts with the president's ethnicity. The analysis shows that ethnic nationalism negatively affects equality regarding resource distribution, as evidenced in the four African countries analyzed.

Keywords: Clientelism, Ethnic Nationalism, Kenya, Ethnicity, Colonialism, Resource Distribution

Subject: International Studies thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2022
School: College of Business, Government and Law
Supervisor: Luis da Vinha