Home    Number 5, 2019

Ethnicity and Separatism on the Kenya Coast

[Etnichnost’ i separatizm na keniyskom poberezh’e]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150007381-9

Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted: 13.02.2019

Accepted: 15.07.2019

About author(s)

Ilia V. Ponomariov | https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8848-3750 | ilia.ponomarev@gmail.com | Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Science (30/1 Spiridonovka, Moscow, 123001, Russia)


ethnopolitical rivalry and rhetoric, separatism, Mijikenda, Swahili, Kikuyu, Mombasa, Kenya


A movement of ethnic separatism in the Kenya Coast region (Mombasa Republican Council), which was formed in the beginning of the current century, is analyzed in ethnopolitical, cultural, and socioeconomic contexts. The movement antagonises traditional citizens of the Kenyan Coast (Mijikenda, Swahili, and Arabs) and recent migrants from the inner parts of the country (Kikuyu etc.), the latter having taken leading positions in the local business and social development. Among the most difficult issues that jeopardize relations between Kenyan citizens are contested title deeds on the land and availability of gains for all. Ethnopolitical categories used and reified for the management of conflicts provide the key for exploring the nature of ethnic separatism. For political elites, there is always a room to “construct” ethnicity but this occurs as part of more fundamental ethnic processes.


Ponomariov, I.V. 2019. Ethnicity and Separatism on the Kenya Coast [Etnichnost’ i separatizm na keniyskom poberezh’e]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 5: 102–115. https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150007381-9

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