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Majimbo in Kenya’s Past: Federalism in the 1940s and 1950s By Robert Maxon ...

Chapter 1:  Introduction
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Majimbo in Kenya’s Past:

Chapter 1


The idea of a federal system of government has long played a part in consideration of Kenya’s constitutional order. Throughout this long history, federalism has been the subject of much controversy involving politicians, the public, and academics. Federalism first emerged in constitutional discourse in the 1940s through advocacy for provincial autonomy for some parts of the colony, and later the concept came to include devolution schemes involving smaller units. Controversy, then and later, swirled around the form a federal system might take as well as the identity and motives of those advocating federalism. Perhaps even more significant has been the meanings associated with federalism.

This has been particularly the case with the Swahili word majimbo (singular jimbo). It was first associated with a federal system of government in 1961, and the term has continued to be used in Kenyan constitutional discourse into the present day. The word is thus used in this book to denote a federal system and the advocacy demanding varied forms of federalism, including regionalism and devolution, during the 1940s and 1950s, even though the term was not utilized in public discourse revolving around federalism. Federalism characterized the self-government and independence constitutions introduced in 1963. This was bitterly opposed