African Journal of
Political Science and International Relations

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Pol. Sci. Int. Relat.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0832
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJPSIR
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 382


The fallacy behind the role of civil society in transitional democracies: The case of Kenyan ethno-political conflicts

Mark Okowa
  • Mark Okowa
  • Political Sociology, Maseno University, Kenya.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 05 September 2013
  •  Accepted: 07 February 2015
  •  Published: 31 March 2015


The belief in the centrality of the role of civil society in democracy promotion should be re-evaluated especially in the context of transitional societies like Kenya. Contrary to the widely held view that Civil society is a platform for citizen engagement with government and other state and non state actors, there is reason to believe that civil society has become an avenue for simmering hatred and the promotion of divisive schemes by the political class. In Kenya just like many South eastern European countries, ethnic, cultural and other social differences have become major factors of political instability. Today every aspect of development plans, appointments to government or public offices and or opposition to any government plans and actions are interpreted in ethnic, cultural and or regional dimensions. Civil society institutions including the religious groups have taken sides in the political landscape with ideological support or opposition to the actions of the political class emanating from the same civil society albeit based on regional or ethnic affiliations. This is manifesting a bigger sociological problem than the salient issue of ethnicization of politics rendering civil society as part of the problem and in need of capacity building.


Key words: Civil society, democracy, ethno-political conflicts.