Kenya: Taking Liberties

In This Review

Kenya: Taking Liberties

By Africa Watch
Africa Watch, 1991
432 pp. $20.00
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In Jomo Kenyatta's time a system of plutocratic rule took shape in Kenya in which "big men" enjoying the president's favor manipulated emerging networks of patronage and political control. Plutocracy served the rich in glaring disproportion, but Kenya's parliamentary and judicial institutions offered some checks on the highhanded ways of the powerful, as did the voice of the semi-independent press. After the presidency passed in 1978 to Daniel arap Moi, names and faces within the plutocracy changed, and institutional constraints on elite power were steadily assaulted by the newcomers, producing a combustible combination of popular disaffection, elite paranoia and flagrant abuse of human rights. Africa Watch presents an itemized account of the Moi government's disregard for law and rights-the fullest such report available-and shows how outspoken critics in the church, the legal profession and elsewhere in Kenyan civil society have paid a high price for their courage.