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For Money and EldersRitual, Sovereignty, and the Sacred in Kenya$
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Robert W. Blunt

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226655611

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226655895.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 22 September 2021

“Satan Is an Imitator”: Kenya’s Recent Cosmology of Corruption

“Satan Is an Imitator”: Kenya’s Recent Cosmology of Corruption

Chapter:
(p.118) 5 “Satan Is an Imitator”: Kenya’s Recent Cosmology of Corruption
Source:
For Money and Elders
Author(s):

Robert W. Blunt

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226655895.003.0005

Chapter Five uses an analysis of a national moral panic about Satanism that erupted under President Moi in the early 1990s to reveal the fragility of the conflation of elderhood and money. In 1992, donors imposed massive cutbacks in aid to Kenya in order to force multiparty elections, alleging that “good governance” was the key to better economic performance and an increased capacity to repay debts. Instead, this move initiated a series of state-sponsored meta-scams that generated vast, short-term resources for president Daniel Arap Moi and his fellow elders of state. This historical moment saw the gradual lifting of the elder’s imprimatur from official signs as well as the dissemination of hundreds of millions of shillings at church fundraisers and community development meetings. Kenyans experienced a serious decrease in the shilling’s purchasing power, and explained this contradiction through conspiracy theory, speculating that the “real” source of their politicians’ money was the clandestine sacrifice of innocents and, with the help of Satan, the magical transubstantiation of blood into money. What emerged was a situation similar to post-oil boom Nigeria as described by Andrew Apter: signs of officialdom became floating signifiers, detached from their historical moorings in the gerontocratic state.

Keywords:   Satanism, President Daniel Arap Moi, Mzee, gerontocratic state, moral panic, inflation

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