Swahili identity in post-colonial Kenya: the reproduction of gender in educational discourses
In post-colonial Kenya, education is a key discourse within which struggles of power and identity among Kenyan peoples, and between Kenyans and the state are played out. This dissertation employs a series of parallel, articulating analyses of educational discourses in the colonial and post-colonial periods to examine both gender relations in the Mombasa Swahili community, and relations between Swahili people and the state.In Mombasa, clear gender distinctions with women normatively confined to private spheres are a salient marker of Swahili culture, and thus Swahili identity, both to Swahili people themselves and to non-Swahili people who observe them. But since the 1930s women and girls have increasingly engaged in public educational domains as teachers, administrators, parents and students. Their involvement is part of a self-conscious Swahili attempt to afford local children good secular education provided by the state, while supplementing it with appropriate Koranic instruction. In this way they hope to maintain a distinctive Swahili, Muslim world view and moral order. Paradoxically, the involvement of women in this project to maintain cultural integrity constitutes a challenge to male hegemony, and offers contested understandings of what "Swahili Women", and thus Swahili culture and identity are.Furthermore, at the national level, the activities of Swahili men and women in molding secular education to their own cultural needs has the effect of resisting state attempts to construct a consciousness of Kenyan citizenship through the national control of education.
- Anthropology