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The Forgotten, Labour of Memory and the Search for National Unity through the Instrumentalization of History: CMD-Kenya’s S/Heroes project

Despite 49 years of independence and a successful actor transition from President Arap Moi to President Kibaki, a wide range of polarities continue to inform Kenya’s development as a nation state. Indeed, the state seems to be equipped by a specter of identity crisis. Instead of individuals identifying themselves as Kenyan’s they continue to prefer identifying themselves more as members of various communities. These polarities can be traced to the process and consequences of state formation at one level, and logic of elite management of the state at another.

Over time, these polarities have been and continue to be animated by historical incidents which have transformed themselves into deep seated specters that continue to shape and inform the socio-political and economic differentiations,core in these are the land questions (such as the burning multiple questions of land clashes (at the coast 1997; the Rift Valley in 1992-3, Western 1992-3); Maasai land alienation (alienation of land, economic rape through MNC the case Magadi and national parks); and its contemporary economic consequences; the urban and rural squatter problem (the case of urban squatters in Nairobi, Coast, Transzoia-) the political assassinations (in this case the Mboya, Kariuki, Gama Pinto and Ouko), The Wagalla Massacre language driven violations, state and social banditism; The Nyayo representation of the 1980’s; The 1982 Coup attempt and its consequences.

Following the 2008, post election violence that rocked the very essence of the nation called Kenya, CMD-Kenya embarked on the S/heroes research project towards National Unity and Instrumentatization of history by unearthing of the forgotten and documenting the labour of memory.

Dr. Katumanga Msambaye leads a team of scholars from various disciplines from the University of Nairobi and the National Defense College in addition to a media crew that record the interviews as they take place.

This team is working closely with the Mau Mau War Veterans through their spokesperson, Mzee Gitu wa Kahengeri.

Project Objectives

Broadly stated this project seeks to investigate, analyze and eventually generate easily accessible information on select range of national pathologies that continue to constrain national reconciliation to one level, and the up-holdence of human rights to another. In specific terms, it seeks to:

a.) Generate information (nature, forms, modes of resistance, underlying philosophies,
strategies and counter reactions to these, and their over-role impact on the state) on select number of pathologies with view to engendering rectification, restitution, correction national healing.

b.) Engender the evolution of alternative collective regard to Kenya's past through the
production in the public sphere of hitherto unknown archival materials: Historical tomes,
strategic and tactical manuals on campaigns and actions; analyzed narratives; documentaries.

c ) Constitute the basis upon which new symbolic constructions based on architectural and
other modes (monuments, mapping of said cites, Route Marches, regionalized national
museums) that can facilitate shared remembering as opposed to particularistic and divisive
grieving.
d.) Generations of leadership norms, philosophies and frameworks for alternative state building

e.) Facilitate a realm for development of alternative leadership and nurturing of nascent scholarship.

Publications

CMD Kenya Videos