Conceptual metaphor of the nation-state in newly-independent Africa

Kenyatta’s regime state-as-a-family metaphor in Kenyan parliamentary discourse


  • Sammy Gakero Gachigua Lancaster University



Conceptual metaphor, State-as-a-family, Intertextuality, Kenya, Preservation of Public Security Bill


At independence, African countries were faced with the task of creating stable nation-states from people with diverse visions of independence, as well as crafting metaphors of states that defined the relationships between the various actors therein. In Kenya, as is discernable during the debate of the Preservation of Public Security Bill in 1966, Kenyatta's regime activated a state-as-family metaphor. The metaphor fused the state, the government and the President as a trinity imbued with eternal benevolent and moral authority of a father. The public were conceptualized as children. Critics of government were conceived as delinquent children. The regime also intertextually appropriated discourses of tradition, developmentalism, and Hobbesian Leviathan to craft an ideology of order that buttressed a version of state-as-family metaphor inimical to the aspirations of freedom and selfdetermination that animated the struggle for independence by the Kenyan people.

Author Biography

  • Sammy Gakero Gachigua, Lancaster University

    Sammy Gakero Gachigua is a PhD student at Lancaster University, UK.


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How to Cite

Gachigua, S. (2019). Conceptual metaphor of the nation-state in newly-independent Africa: Kenyatta’s regime state-as-a-family metaphor in Kenyan parliamentary discourse. Linguistics and the Human Sciences, 12(2-3), 223-242.