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date: 05 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Previously known as Western Province before the country was reorganized under the 2010 Constitution, Western Kenya now consists of Busia, Bungoma, Kakamega, and Vihiga counties. Though the majority of inhabitants are Luhya, their diverse political persuasions have always culminated in different political affiliations and voting patterns during elections. The persistence of the resultant political heterogeneity has not been adequately explained. This chapter attempts to explain this political phenomenon, and assesses devolution’s contribution towards negotiating electoral harmony in the politics of Western Kenya. It is argued that Luhya traditionally cherished decentralized governance centered on clan authority, which saw every sub-group jealously guard its autonomy. The presence of the Teso and Sabaot in the region, with their varying historical grievances, coupled with respect for individual opinion, has further amplified political heterogeneity among the Luhya. Though devolution has triggered negotiations for power-sharing through “negotiated democracy,” it has not harmonized the politics of the region.

Keywords: Luhya, Teso, Sabaot, political heterogeneity, elections, Western Kenya

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