Under the 2010 constitution, Kenya devolved power to 47 county governments to provide more localised, inclusive and participatory governance. County governments are required to include members of local ethnic minorities; governors can be impeached for failing to do so. The paper offers disaggregated 2009 census data showing ethnic demographics for each of Kenya’s counties. These are compared against estimates of county government ethnic composition through a name-based analysis of all county executives. These sources allow for formulation of an index of county government ethnic representativeness, through which outlying cases can be identified. Survey responses drawn from county executives are additionally presented, detailing perceived fairness of their government’s ethnic representation and revealing a difficult disjuncture between politicians’ self-perceived representativeness and their actual representativeness. A historical conditioning of local administrative units towards ethnic homogeneity has resulted in severe challenges of identity representation. Governors’ democratic exercise of power often lies in tension with constitutional provisions for ethnic diversity, posing the question of which of the two should be preferred.
Dominic Burbidge is a Departmental Lecturer in African Studies, University of Oxford. He is currently working as a post-doctoral researcher for the James Madison Program at Princeton University. His research interest focuses around the normative underpinnings to political economy, using game theory methods. His theoretical lens consists of an application of virtue ethics to the social sciences, looking at what generates trust from the perspective of habit formation and commonly-held social norms.