Publication: Masculinity, Morality, and the State in Northern Kenya: The Case of Baringo County’s Il Chamus

By Uroš Kovač & Dorothea Schulz, Project B04 Projecting Futures.


Since the early 2000s, armed attacks and inter-ethnic violence have increased in parts of northern Kenya’s Baringo County. This article examines how the Maa-speaking Il Chamus men respond to the growing insecurity as they draw on long-standing notions of morality and on the Kenyan state. In contrast to tropes of (agro)pastoralist northern Kenya being plagued by inter-ethnic animosity, lawlessness, and absence of governance, Il Chamus men situate inter-ethnic violence and gun ownership in notions of peace, prosperity, and security and engage the Kenyan state in an effort to achieve these values. Analyses of men in precarious conditions as experiencing “waithood” and turning to violence “in search of respect” need to be complemented by attention to emic notions of morality, masculinity, and intergenerational hierarchy, albeit not as simple remnants of “culture” but as points of debate in contemporary contexts of political and ecological insecurity.


Kovač, U., & Schulz, D. E. 2023. Masculinity, Morality, and the State in Northern Kenya: The Case of Baringo County’s Il Chamus. Africa Spectrum, 58(3), 201-226. DOI

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