Religion and Pluralism in the Constitution: Expanding and Transforming the Kenyan Kadhis’ Courts
Article 8 of the Constitution of Kenya states clearly and unequivocally: “There shall be no State religion” (2010b). Such a strong disavowal of religious establishment by the state effectively welcomes the wide range of religious practices existing in Kenya and thereby fosters the unity in diversity that is a prominent aspirational goal of the 2010 Constitution.
Promoting unity is especially challenging when Christianity, the majority religion, has long been associated with Kenya’s political leaders and dominant social groups. Relatedly, religious minorities, most notably Muslims and Hindus, have experienced marginalization at the hands of the state and fellow citizens. Not surprisingly, since independence Kenyan governments have been viewed as supporting and even promoting Christianity, especially from the perspective of non-Christian Kenyans.
By Susan F. Hirsch, Professor School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University