Imperial Education and the Crisis of Political Leadership in Postcolonial Kenya
NJAGI, MWANGI D.
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This dissertation examines how imperial education contributed to the crisis of Kenya's postcolonial political leadership. It argues that the system of education inaugurated by the agents of European imperialism, having banished imaginative political leadership of pre-colonial African society and embedded itself as the superior alternative, fashioned African political elite who could not be relied upon to spearhead modernization of their societies. Instead, these elite became more adroit at preserving the same instruments of colonial state that had been used to subjugate Africans. The study reassesses our understanding of colonial education in the context of African colonialism, showing that the common perception that education occupied a binary role as a medium for both the hegemonic and counter-hegemonic projects is untenable. The dissertation shows that colonial education was not divorced from the other apparatuses of the European imperialism. Yet education was more than just a simple tool in the European imperial project. It was the central organ around which the embryonic modern state evolved. In this regard, education occupies several interrelated and dynamic locations throughout this study. One, its serves as the analytical prism through which the story of the broader political evolution of Kenya's modern state is told. The unfolding of this process, beginning from the eve of colonialism when the European missionaries set up their mission stations, the colonial state, to the eventual first postcolonial regime under the African elite, are all examined through this prism. In this narrative, education is also imagined as the arena where national consciousness was nurtured, ideological solidarities marshaled and racial domination constructed and challenged. On the one hand, it gave the colonized communities critical access to the trappings of the new modernity epitomized by the ability to read, write, and use western technology all which they used to assert themselves. On the other hand, the agents of European imperialism sought to legitimize their racial superiority and the very project of imperialism using education. The resultant struggles became negotiations for rights, privileges, and citizenship within a common space where both the colonized and the colonizer had the tools to legitimate their sectarian claims.