Advocating for dissent: An investigation into why and how sections of civil society advocate for dissent in Kenya from 2013 – 2019
The concept of civil society in Africa attracts large criticisms that hold the ostensible notion that it is purely western and incompatible with African societies. Efforts and activities of sections within civil society have been brandished illegitimate owing to the vast track of foreign funding they receive to commence the said activities. This raises questions when one looks at the dissenting activities of sections within Kenyan civil society; of whether these activities stem from legitimate issues within the communities or activities are a response to the available donor funds. Thus, the following study employed an exploratory case study of Inform Action Kenya to understand why and how sections within civil society advocate for dissent. The above was sufficed by employing a reflexive decolonised ontology and epistemology of knowledge on civil society and dissent. This was done to separate analysing civil society and dissent from different philosophical theories or standpoints. From the findings, the study noted that the political environment, shrinking civil space, good working relationship with communities amongst others, played a great part in driving sections of Kenyan civil society to engage into dissenting activities. The investigation revealed that sections of Kenyan civil society use films, publications, legal actions and protests, as how they advocate for dissent. The political environment among others emerged as a key challenge affecting the activities of sections of Kenyan civil society. The study managed to respond to the criticisms that challenge the legitimacy of civil society activities, by providing a justification about civil society activities in various communities. The justification proved that the activities of sections of civil society are legitimate and draw from the good relationship they have with their communities. The study concluded by recommending the tolerance of dissent within Kenya given that the precolonial Kenyan societies were based on a system of governance that tolerated dissent. The study noted that the main findings should not be used as conclusions of the heterogeneous Kenyan civil society, but to be used as an understanding of what occurs within sections of Kenyan civil society. Key words: dissent, civil society, decolonisation, Kenya, advocate.
PublisherUiT Norges arktiske universitet
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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Copyright 2020 The Author(s)
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