Politics in everyday Kenyan street-life: the people’s parliament in Mombasa, Kenya

06 Feb 2018

The presence of politics in everyday experiences – popular arts, culture and dialogue – is not new to the study of politics in Africa. Yet, most often, attention to political possibilities in the everyday appears preoccupied with their relationship to rule and authority, making it difficult to imagine political significance outside of an influence on forms of dominance. Hannah Arendt’s early political thought provides an alternative way to imagine politics in everyday publics by separating politics from rule and locating it in public speech and action. Drawing on Arendt’s ideas around political significance of publics, this paper examines the nature and scope of political possibilities of a street parliament in Mombasa, Kenya. It reveals how possibilities for Arendtian political action are present in informal practices of public discussion, which are both contingent upon and compromised by competing interests, including elite and partisan competition.