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Kenya: Analysis

Kenya: Analysis

 

Under British rule, Kenya was a nation lacking in mutual exchange of culture and values. Skewed power relations did not create the environment needed for culturally diplomatic activities to take place. It is also difficult to assess the long-term history of cultural diplomacy in Kenya, on account of its colonial past, together with the fact that there is little documentation of pre-colonial cultural exchange.

Focusing on the projects listed here, it can be noted that all of them in some way address issues that have been present in Kenya since independence, such as socio-economic development and ethnic tensions. Such projects can be regarded to some extent as new ways of dealing with old problems. However, those working in the field of youth exchange and reconciliation are responses to the more recent problems of political violence that arose in connection to the parliamentary and presidential elections in 2007.

Cultural exchange is a major theme in all projects, be it on an international level between academics or women’s organisations, or on a national/local level between youth or representatives of ethnic groups. All projects listed use the mutual exchange of knowledge, sentiments or values as a primary basis of their work, and are all examples of how culture can be used as a vehicle to acknowledge, address and treat societal ills.

The projects do differ in terms of their internal structure, however. Firstly, the projects exhibit various degrees of relationship with the Kenyan government. Some, like AICAD, are managed by the Kenyan government directly, and some are only endorsed and supported such as Lolo Kenya Screen. This variation highlights the fact that there is currently insufficient funding for all cultural projects, meaning the Kenyan government has to work in cooperation with international organisations, as well as those from civil society to obtain the necessary level of capital. Such cooperation works towards bringing a more diverse spectrum of organisations together however, which is itself a contribution to cultural diplomacy.

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