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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: October 2019

7 - Ruling over a Divided Political Family (1965–1969)


Chapter 7 explores how Kenyatta’s presidential authority evolved after the stabilisation of his regime. It first analyses how the politicization of the land market was an exercise of regime-building, establishing a network of shared dependencies, allocating land to local political “big-men”. This is followed by an examination of the early years of the politics of succession. By 1965, the fragile alliance of convenience set up between Kenyatta and his main contenders, Oginga Odinga and Tom Mboya, was beginning to crack, while Kenyatta’s old age and fragile health revived the question of presidential succession. The government’s merciless repression against any form of opposition and dissidence culminated with the murder of Tom Mboya in 1969. Throughout these years, Kenyatta used the same strategy that had salvaged him during the “Release Kenyatta” campaign: preserving the status quo. He was left with the role of ruling over a divided political family, using his unrivalled access to state resources.