This study investigates the significance and effects of ethnocentrism in the Kenyan society. The usual concept of ethnocentrism combines the belief that one’s culture is superior to other cultures with the practice of judging other cultures as inferior to one’s own culture. This concept does not address the underlying issue of why people do this but emphasizes that people make false assumptions based on their own limited experience about others. Ethnocentrism is a major reason for divisions amongst members of different ethnicities, races, and religious groups in a society. Kenya is a multi-ethnic society with more than 40 ethnic groups. Historically, members of Kenya’s ethnic groups co-existed, traded and intermarried often in symbiotic relationships between pastoralists and agricultural communities. With the advent of the multiparty democracy in 1991, Kenya has experienced a series of ethnic and political conflicts. This is a theoretical study based on descriptive analysis of the widely available literature on ethnocentrism and related concepts. The key finding of the study is that the effects of ethnocentrism on the Kenyan society have a two-fold perspective. One, Ethnocentrism has acted as medium rather than a cause of ethno-political conflicts the country has experienced. The main cause of these conflicts is the interaction between ethnocentrism and socioeconomics. Two, ethnocentrism has adversely affected socioeconomic development of the country especially during the ‘Nyayo’era through the mismanagement of national resources.
Key words: Ethnocentrism, multi-ethnic society, ethnopolitical behaviour, socioeconomics and national resources.
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