In This Review

Kenyan Capitalists, the State, and Development

Kenyan Capitalists, the State, and Development
By David Himbara
192 pp, Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1994

This provocative and well-researched analysis of Kenya's economic rise and fall challenges past academic theories regarding the role of indigenous capitalists and their relationship to the Kenyan state. The author, an East African émigré scholar, revisits the history of Kenya's commercial and industrial development, and argues that from independence onward, the potential of the country's proven entrepreneurs -- its Indian business class -- was neglected. Meanwhile, state resources were redirected toward inexperienced Africans in the belief that success in business and economic growth would follow merely from creating new opportunities for the country's majority to accumulate capital. As a succession of mediocre and corrupt elites, first Kikuyu and then Kalenjin, grasped the reins of state power, the promising momentum of industrial and commercial development dating from Kenya's late colonial period was lost. Today, despite attempts by aid donors and multilateral lenders to foster reform and shore up its faltering state institutions, Kenya finds itself with dwindling revenues, decaying infrastructure, and still no true class of African capitalists dedicated to long-term investment and growth.