Dr. Nicholas Githuku, UB CDI Distinguished Visiting Scholar: House of Mlungula

House of Mulungula

Friday, February 26, 2021

2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

Dr. Nicholas Githuku

Sponsored by                    Dept. of History

Co-sponsored by  UB Center for Diversity Innovation Distinguished Visiting Scholar program

Please see the UB Dept. of History page for details: https://arts-sciences.buffalo.edu/history/news-events/upcoming-events.html

Portrait of Dr. Nicholas Githuku, looking straight at camera.

Dr. Nicholas K. Githuku

"House of Mlungula—'Norms in the Margins and Margins of the Norm:' of Computer 'Glitches,' Moving Human Fingers and Illicit Financial flows," with Nicholas Githuku

The East African nation of Kenya is patently a house of mlungula—that is, a kleptocracy where both the government and society are imbued by corruption and runaway greed. Indeed, corruption so permeates society like an unavoidable hydra that scarcely leaves anyone untouched or unaffected. The unwritten code is expressed in the African proverb, “the goat eats where it’s tethered.” It is, therefore, not surprising to find corruption and the “trading of favors,” bakshish, among lawmakers; among revenue collection officials; among parents, teachers and students in schools and universities; among doctors, nurses and staff in hospitals; in corridors of justice among judges and magistrates; and even in the so-called “disciplined armed forces” including the police etc.

Be that as it may, this paper examines the zenith of the complete or gross disregard of African norms of kinship, mutuality, and reciprocity because of wanton greed and corruption. Seldom is there any human progress and technological advancement that does not alter society. Whether one talks about printing in the sixteenth century which rocked Europe with the spread of Protestantism; or various machines behind the Industrial Revolution; or historian John Lonsdale’s ng’ombe na mkuki (cow and spear) and the njembe na kalamu (hoe and pen) revolutions in Africa, technological advancement has always transformed and/or forged societies. Although this is not a phenomenon confined to Kenya and Africa, this paper is a reflection of how the combination of “itchy” human fingers and the rapid development of digital technologies—such as mobile banking, electronic money transfer, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, and online banking and gambling services all of which are quite popular in Kenya— have facilitated or contributed to illicit financial flows ranging from corruption, illegally earned, or transfer of, money and cybercrime (read: fraud) among others such as tax evasion and tax avoidance, organized crime, human trafficking, and “many other forms of crime … associated with these illegal activities….” The proliferation and establishment of digital technologies. in the twenty-first century as an acceptable way for transacting business and money transfer has encouraged financial chicanery ensuring that universal ethical norms such as accountability and responsibility have not only been pushed to the outer margins, but has also meant that the margins of the norms have been pushed to the limit and, more often than not, been ruptured with impunity.

Please join this work-in-progress presentation by Nicholas Githuku, PhD. A pre-circulated paper of Githuku is available.

SPONSOR:  UB Department of History
CO-SPONSOR:  UB Center for Diversity Innovation Distinguished Visiting Scholars program

REGISTER HERE: Please go to this page for more details and the Zoom link: https://arts-sciences.buffalo.edu/history/news-events/upcoming-events.html


Speaker Bio

Photo of Prof. Nicholas Githuku, looking directly at the camera.

Dr. Nicholas K. Githuku

UB CDI Distinguished Visiting Scholar (Dept. of History)

Dr. Nicholas K. Githuku, assistant professor of African History at York College (CUNY), is the author of Mau Mau Crucible of War: Statehood, National Identity, and Politics of Postcolonial Kenya. His work focuses on Eastern Africa in general, and contemporary political history of Kenya in particular. His research interests include the history of capitalism; British national and imperial history; the intricate, inescapable and dialectical link between power or government legitimacy and resistance in the generic African state; and military, and (colonial and postcolonial) legal, history.

Areas of Interest/Special Expertise: History and evolution of the African state; philosophy of history; history of political ideas; human rights, development and democratic governance issues in Africa south of the Sahara; auto/biography theory and history; military history/evolution of international law of war (memory and memorialization of war).

PhD, African History, West Virginia University; Rotary International Mid-professional Certificate in Peace, Development and Conflict Studies, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok-Thailand; MA, Armed Conflict and Peace Studies (History), University of Nairobi; BA, Political Science & Public Administration and History, University of Nairobi

This presentation will be offered free of charge online.