“A historical investigation of the highest caliber.”
African Studies Review
“In telling the story of (Ouko’s) death, Cohen and Odhiambo draw upon a rich array of official reports and journalistic investigations into the crime. With careful research and insightful presentation, Cohen and Odhiambo do not explicitly solve this ‘who-dunnit’, but they do tease out a multiplicity of themes about Kenya’s recent political past.”
Journal of African History
In February 1990 assailants murdered Kenya's distinguished Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Robert Ouko. The horror of the attack, the images of his mutilated and burned corpse, the evidence of a notorious cover-up, and the revelations of the pressures, conflicts, and fears he faced in his last weeks have engaged Kenya's publics for years. The Risks of Knowledge minutely examines the multiple and unfinished investigations into the crime.
Among the probes was an extensive 1990 inquiry organized by a New Scotland Yard team invited to Kenya by the government, as well as an open public commission of inquiry appointed by President Daniel arap Moi. The commission ran for seventeen months in 1990-91 before the president shut it down. International and Kenyan unrest over Ouko's brutal death brought increasing attention to corruption and violence associated with the Moi government, leading in late 1991 to multiparty politics and in December 2002 to the elections that ended the Moi era.
This powerfully argued book raises important issues about the production of knowledge and the politics of memory that will interest a large interdisciplinary audience.
David William Cohen is a professor of anthropology and history at the University of Michigan. He is the author of The Historical Tradition of Busoga: Mukama and Kintu, The Combing of History, and Womunafu's Bunafu.
E. S. Atieno Odhiambo was a professor of history at Rice University. He is the author of The Paradox of Collaboration and Other Essays, and Siaya: Politics and Nationalism in East Africa, 1905-1939. He is the editor of African Historians and African Voices and coeditor, with David William Cohen, of The Risks of Knowledge.
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