Skip to main content

An Indigenous African Framework for Counterterrorism: Decolonising Kenya’s Approach to Countering “Al-Shabaab-ism”

Journal Abstract

Critical Studies on Terrorism

The terrorism discourse in the Kenyan context dates back to the colonial and post-colonial years with the country having suffered its most devastating terrorist attacks in the period since 1998. Despite a series of dreadful experiences, it was not until 9/11 that the country’s counterterrorism discourse took a serious upward trajectory. This was after Kenya’s elevation by her Western allies as an “anchor” state in the Global War on Terror (GWOT). This development illustrates how Kenya’s security architecture is hugely dependent on Western counterterrorism frameworks, strategies, and at times, security priorities. In this regard, the existing counterterrorism frameworks not only perpetuate colonial continuities but also neglect the national contextual peculiarities. This article, thus, explores how Western constructions of terrorism permeate Kenya’s counterterrorism, and deny subaltern actors the opportunity to participate in developing intervention priorities and owning the strategies. Our analysis of the explicit knowledge predispositions between Western and the local constructions of counterterrorism, consequently, suggest some parallels between colonial continuities and the state-owned interventions. We, therefore, seek to deconstruct the universality of knowledge on counterterrorism, and argue for increased recognition and inclusion of indigenous African counterterrorism approaches which have been obscured from mainstream knowledge systems.

You might also like: