On 16 October 2011, Kenya’s armed forces invaded southern Somalia in the midst of a severe regional famine. Their purpose is to capture the port city of Kismayu and to remove the Al Shabaab Islamist militia from the region. This presentation will review the background to Kenya’s military action, setting it in the context of the securitization of development in the wider region of eastern Africa.

Refugees still flood across the borders of Ethiopia and Kenya, simultaneously presenting a humanitarian and a security challenge. Famine has been both a cause of the invasion and a cloak behind which its politics can be hidden: issues of international responsibility, and of citizenship and surveillance, loom large. It will be argued that the Kenyan invasion implies a strengthening of sovereignty in this region, through the militarization of politics. The weak states of eastern Africa are being remade at their borders through warfare and conflict. A decade on from 9/11, the global war on terror is having a profound impact upon the region where the threat of al Qaeda first became manifest to the world.

David M Anderson is Professor of African Politics in the University of Oxford and a Fellow of St Cross College. He has published widely on the history and politics of eastern Africa, his most recent books being The Khat Controversy (2007) and Histories of the Hanged (2005). He is co-editor of the Routledge Handbook of African Politics, which will be published in 2012. From 1989 until 1999 has was editor of The Journal of African History, and from 2007 until 2011 he was founding editor of the Journal of Eastern African Studies.


Kjetil Tronvoll, Senior Partner, ILPI

Cindy Horst, Senior Researcher, PRIO