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Fundamental Theories of Ethnic Conflict:
Explaining the Root Causes of Racial and Ethnic Hate - edited by Muli wa Kyendo

Book Review by: Emily Keles-Muli

Fundamental Theories of Ethnic Conf;ict


Book Review

Title: Fundamental Theories of Ethnic Conflict:

Explaining the Root Causes of Racial and Ethnic Hate

Edited by: Muli Wa Kyendo

Published by: Syokimau Cultural Centre, Nairobi, Kenya, 2019,

156pp, ISBN 978-9966-7020-6-7 (paperback) 978-

9966-7020-5-0 (e-book)

Available at: al-theories-of-ethnic-conflict

or at: Ethnic-Conflict-Explaining/dp/9966702067

Book Review by: Emily Keles-Muli*

Key words: Conflicts, Theories of ethnic and racial conflict, International relations, Peace and Security, Myth Values Hypothesis of peace, Evolutionary Theories of peace, Hypothesis of Dichotomies and peace, Religion and Identities and conflict, Communication and conflict, Social Science

In this book, Fundamental Theories of Ethnic Conflict: Explaining the root causes of racial and ethnic hate by Muli wa Kyendo (ed), researchers and experts from different fields of investigation invite readers to focus on explanations of the root causes of ethnic and racial conflict from various perspectives with the hope of spurring fresh approaches to this

devastating –

if age-long –

human problem. Deviating from what it calls "effects theories"

which have so far guided research and peace programs in the world – and especially in Africa –

the book goes much deeper and wider to seek explanations in old and new theories.

Contributions cover evolution, biology, religion, communication, mythology and even psychology. The focus is understandable noting the fact that all countries – and again, especially

African countries – suffer from ethnic conflicts, often derailing development for years. And...

Myth Values

Readers will particularly be interested in the contribution by Muli wa Kyendo in which he develops a revolutionary, thought-provoking Myth Values Theory of Peace. In the Chapter entitled, “Myth Values: An Approach to Understanding Ethnic Conflict” Muli analyses the myths of four Kenyan communities – the Luo, Kikuyu, Kalenjin and the Kamba – for their key themes, key values and attitudes. Values and attitudes, contained and propagated in community myths, he argues, determine a community’s way of interpreting the realities they are daily confronted with. They determine whether a community’s ideas promote peace or conflict. Comparing the myth values of the communities he studied with their reaction to colonial experience and modern nationalism, Muli concludes:

From this analysis, we have seen that myth values direct human beings, deciding their reaction to the major issues they face. The problem is that human beings are not aware – and with modern ideologies - it is difficult to accept that their reactions are dictated by myths and legends.

The analysis itself is interesting, bringing out many fascinating aspects of African traditional beliefs and cultures we normally take for granted. Muli is a journalist and author who read sociology and sociological theories in University of Nairobi, Kenya, and the Free University, Berlin, Germany. He has published creative and scholarly works on folklore and ethnic conflicts as books and chapters in scholarly books.

Readers interested in the development of the Myth Values Theory of Peace will find additional useful information in Muli’s popular earlier article, “Ethnic Conflicts: Understanding"


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