The Securitization of Political Discourse in Reinforcing Regimes of Power in Kenya

Oscar Gakuo Mwangi (1) & Catherine Waithera Mwangi (2)

(1)  Department of Political and Administrative Studies, National University of Lesotho, Roma, Lesotho, ,
(2)  Department of Languages, Linguistics and Literature, Pwani University, Kilifi, Kenya,,


This article examines the securitization of political discourse in reinforcing regimes of power in Kenya. It perceives securitized terrorism and counterterrorism discourse as political discourse. The article combines Foucault’s perspectives on discourse, discursive practices and power relations, and aspects of Securitisation Theory, that subjectively construct security threats, as a framework to analyse the securitization of terrorism and counterterrorism discourse and discursive practices in Kenya. The official speeches of key members of Kenya’s National Security Council, which is officially responsible for security matters in the country, form the core data. The arguments raised are that Somalis residing in Kenya are constructed as existential threats to national security in the terrorism and counterterrorism discourse and discursive practices of the members of the National Security Council. The construction is done on the basis of ethnicity, religion and ungoverned spaces. These three are examined as causal factors whose political outcome is the reinforcement of power relations. By securitizing discourse and discursive practices, the state legitimizes its role in implementing and enhancing its capacity to implement coercive norm-violation counterterrorism measures. The state also enhances its capacity to continually modify existing knowledge of terrorism and counterterrorism through communication, further reinforcing discrimination of Somalis in Kenya.    

Keywords: Securitization; Political discourse; Terrorism and counterterrorism; Power relations; Kenya.



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