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Two Paths Ahead

The Ideological Struggle between Capitalism and Socialism in Kenya, 1960-1970

by Shiraz Durrani

The struggle between socialism and capitalism in Kenya has been long, bitter and violent. Capitalism won with the active support of USA and UK governments at the time of independence in 1963. Yet the original (1960) Kenya African National Union (KANU) Party was in favour of socialism. It was Presidents Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel Arap Moi who used violence to suppress those advocating socialism. They used their power to massacre, assassinate, exile, imprison and disappear people and created a state of terror to silence their opponents.   Capitalism became the unstated state policy.  Thus, imperialism won and the aims of Mau Mau were brutally suppressed. However, the desire for socialism never died. Resistance movements and opposition parties made socialism their aim, reflecting people’s desire for justice, equality and empowerment.
Many studies on Kenya focus on personalities or ‘tribes’ or race as driver of events, ignoring the all-important class and ideological positions of leaders and their Parties. Two Paths Ahead reproduces and comments on the documents from the opposing sides in the battles between capitalism and socialism — the original Kenya African National Union (KANU), its successor, KANU-B, and the Kenya People’s Union (KPU) on economy, land, labour, and social policy. It also touches upon the demands of the organisers of the 1982 Coup and traces the political stand of key leaders as proponents of capitalism or socialism. The final section reproduces some of the documents on this ideological struggle. The book exposes the hidden hand of imperialism in the country’s rush to capitalism. It fills a gap in understanding the real contradictions that divide Kenya to this day.

ISBN 9789966133120  | 328 pages | 229 x 152mm | 2023 | Vita Books, Kenya | Paperback


eBook ISBN: 9789914987591


This is an excellent exposition, in simple and clear terms, of the fundamental problem behind Kenya's failed independence, entrenched misrule and mass poverty. Kenya's underdevelopment, corruption and state capture by the elite will never be understood and properly tackled until their ideological foundations are appreciated. The struggle against British colonialism and the struggles that Kenyans have waged since formal independence are decidedly socialist endeavours. They have not succeeded precisely because capitalism is hidden and always fights back.
A radical public education in the sense of going to the roots of the problem is urgently needed in order to a) re-school and awaken the vast majority of Kenyans who have been misled about the true nature of their deepening predicament, its causes and remedies; and b) to develop new arsenals to dismantle the capitalist order and establish a socialist government. Durrani makes an important contribution in this regard.

Henry Makori, journalist, The Star (Nairobi) and consultant editor with the Media Council of Kenya. Previously with Pambazuka News.



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