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Ukombozi Review (Kenya)

Whose liberation is it anyway? Misogyny and Homophobia in Kenyan Leftist Spaces

The rallying cry you will hear at almost every leftist gathering in Kenya is “Liberation for the masses! End all forms of oppression!” Often, it is men who send out this noble clarion call for emancipation from the shackles of capitalism and all the ills it represents. But, whose liberation is it anyway? What oppression are we ending when many leftist…

Profile of Field Marshall Mûthoni wa Kîrîma

Muthoni wa Kirima is a retired top-ranking female fighter in the Kenya Land and Freedom Army, popularly known as Mau Mau Movement in the 1950s. Few Mau Mau women became active fighters and the extraordinary roles of many others are often disregarded in what Professor Micere Githae Mugo refers to as texts of “Silencing, Erasure, and Manipulation of…

On students organizing: Which way forward?

Students constitute a critical section of the population in any country. Kenya is no exception. As a country, the progressive steps we have made as far as the opening up of democratic space is concerned have occurred as a result of the deep involvement of university students in national struggles.It is impossible to divorce student politics and their…

Government lethargy since independence abetting cultural colonialism

Courtesy of the International Inventories Programme (IPP), we now know that Kenya’s cultural objects plundered during the colonial period amount to over 32,000 items, and this particular lot is held in just 30 institutions in North America and Europe. This IPP is a collection of Kenyan organisations and partners that put together a comprehensive database…

A picture of class struggle and resistance: The story of Mukuru demolitions

On May 30th 2018, President Uhuru Kenyatta pledged to issue 100,000 title deeds to Embakasi residents at Jacaranda Grounds. In May 2019, the former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko halted the process for 50,000 plot owners. He reportedly did this to pave way for investigations to find out who the genuine land owners in the area were after a land dispute…

Hope and Hopelessness: The Paradox of Inspiration

The paradox of “the struggle” – the phrase that some of my senior comrades use in reference to organizing – is that it is inspired by both hope and hopelessness. Often, people invest in the struggle through action with the hope that matters will change one day. What of those whose hopes have been dashed and still forge on? This brings to mind…

Editorial: What is to be done?

The question “What is to be done?” has troubled many writers and revolutionaries. Leo Tolstoy, the Russian writer addressed the same in his treatise, What Then Must We Do?  He was referring to the perennial aspects of the human condition relating to poverty, exploitation and greed in the Russia of his times. Vladmir Lenin, the socialist revolutionary…

The Story of Yusuf bin Hassan aka Dom Jeronimo, the Last Swahili Sultan of Mombasa

By Judy Aldrick* Portuguese Map of Mombasa d.1635 In 1592, the island of Mombasa was divided between the Portuguese and the Sultan of Malindi.  The Portuguese took the part facing the sea.  The new Sultan of Mombasa had been granted the prestigious title brother-in-arms to the King of Portugal and a share of the customs revenues of Mombasa in recognition…

Political Protest in Contemporary Kenya: Change and Continuities by Jacob Mwathi Mati, New York, Routledge, 2020, 207pp, ISBN: 978-0-429-31657-9

By Njuki Githethwa The title of this book attracts at first glance. It inspires the excitement of providing a lucid and deep analysis of the major waves of political protests in Kenya since independence, a terrain that is often overlooked by scholars of social movements in the region. The half title of the book excites even further scholarship on social…

The women in my life

By Bulimu Chole  Since childhood, my great aunts, my grandmothers and the older women of my clan have been referring to me fondly as their husband. “Nga uyu mundu wange;” here is my man – here is my husband, they would always remark in Maragoli whenever we’d meet, never failing to claim this very unusual relation to me while splashing big village…



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