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date: 05 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Rooted in perceptions of marginalization, ideas of the Coast’s autonomy from Kenya have long animated regional politics, at times expressed as ambitions for secession. However, the appeal of coastal autonomy lies in a lack of resolution on the terms upon which the Coast’s diverse communities can stake a claim as being part of Kenya. This chapter will consider how the Coast’s divisions along ethnic, racial, and religious lines have produced different understandings of marginalization, contributing to the political disunity that has hindered the region’s national integration. Competition for political office under devolution has invigorated participation in local politics. However, when devolved offices are considered as new platforms from which to engage in national politics, the trajectory of county politics reveals that the idea of “the Coast” as a political bloc remains elusive, and that divisions within coastal society may sustain the region’s unequal incorporation into Kenya.

Keywords: Coast, Joho, marginalization, secession, devolution, Mijikenda, Swahili, Arab, al-Shabaab

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