Discourses/3. Kenya: Challenging Negative Perceptions around the ‘African Child’

  • Evelyn Wandia CorradoEmail author
  • Leena Helavaara Robertson
Part of the International Perspectives on Early Childhood Education and Development book series (CHILD, volume 25)


Contemporary childhood studies have portrayed the ‘African child’ as one who is vulnerable and disadvantaged. The developing world construct is a ‘western’ preconceived label, which shapes a universal deprived position for Africans. Nonetheless, this dichotomy is not representative of most African childhoods, which are comfortable and remain unveiled.

The chapter argues that there is need to restructure the African childhood outlook, drawing from their perspectives. A critical analysis will concern the discourses of the ‘African child’ produced by the universal childhood theories, the African childhood accounts and also the current economic and social positions of Africa. The conclusion contends that the African childhood constructions should be re-assessed through ethnography and robust education, for emancipation. This supports the UN Convention rights of the Child’s recognition of children’s right of self-determination.


  1. Ackers, J., & Hardman, F. (2012). Reforming teacher education in East Africa: Moving beyond the ‘Teacher-centered’ versus ‘Child-centered’ debate. Triennial on education and training in Africa. Tunis: Association for the Development of Education in Africa.Google Scholar
  2. Adeyemi, M., & Adeyinka, A. (2002). Some key issues in African traditional education. Revue Des Sciences de L’Education de McGill, 37, 223–240.Google Scholar
  3. Africa Economic Outlook. (2014). Global value chains and Africa industrialisation. In Engaging play. Maidenhead: Open University Press. Available from: Scholar
  4. African Child Policy Forum (ACPF). (2014). Moving from rhetoric to accountability. Available from: In Engaging play. Maidenhead: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  5. African Development Bank. (2011). The middle of the pyramid: Dynamics of the Middleclass in Africa. Accessed on 16 Feb 2018.
  6. African Studies Centre-Leiden. (2015). Children in Africa. Available from. Accessed 20 Mar 2017.
  7. Alanen, L., Brooker, E., & Mayall, B. (2015). Childhood with Bourdieu: Studies in childhood and youth. London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Alexander, R. (2008). Towards dialogic thinking: Rethinking classroom talk. London: Dialogos.Google Scholar
  9. Al-Jazeera. (2014). Why Nigeria failed to contain Boko Haram. Available from: In Engaging play. Maidenhead: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Andre, G., & Hilgers, M. (2015). Childhood in Africa between local powers and global hierchies. London: Palgrave Macmillan publishers.Google Scholar
  11. BBC. (2014). Kenya’ economy grows by 25% after recalculation. Available from: Accessed 20 Mar 2017.
  12. BBC. (2015). This world: Outbreak-the truth about Ebola. Available from: Accessed 1 Apr 2017.
  13. Benoite, L. A. (2013). An overview of the Kenyan education system: Issues and obstacles to learning. Available from: Accessed 20 Mar 2017.
  14. Cheney, K. (2010). Deconstruction childhood vulnerability. An introduction childhood in Africa. Childhood in Africa, an Interdisciplinary Journal, 2(1), 1–48.Google Scholar
  15. Chimamanda, N. A. (2009). The danger of a single story. Available from: Accessed 14 Nov 2016.
  16. Clifford, J. (1988). The predicament of culture. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Cohen, R. (1994). Building people’s strengths. Netherlands: Bernard Van leer Foundation.Google Scholar
  18. Corrado, E. W. (2014). Discover fulfilled living: How to attain success, health and happiness. London: Spiffing Covers.Google Scholar
  19. Corsaro, A. W. (2011). The sociology of childhood. London: Sage publishers.Google Scholar
  20. Davis, M. (2006). Planet of slums. London: Verso Books.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dietz-Uhler, B., & Muller, A. (1998). Effects of social identity and threat on self esteem and group attributions. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 2, 24–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Diop, B. B. (2014). Africa beyond the mirror. Oxford: Ayiebia Clarke publishers.Google Scholar
  23. Freire, P., & Macedo, D. (1993). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
  24. Gillian, F. (1993). Intergroup attributions in minimal groups: Journal of social psychology, Vol 134.Google Scholar
  25. Gordon, A., & Gordon, D. L. (2001). Understanding contemporary Africa. London: Lynne Rienner Publishers.Google Scholar
  26. Helfrich, H. (1999). Beyond the dilemma of cross-cultural psychology: Resolving the tension between etic and emic approaches. Culture & Psychology, 5(2), 131–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Holden, C. (2005). Educating for Europe; the knowledge and understanding of British children. Education Journal, 32, 39–44.Google Scholar
  28. Holloway, W., Lucey, H., & Phoenix, A. (2007). Social psychology. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Hooks, B. (1994). Teaching to transgress: Education as practice of freedom. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  30. Ibbott, R. (2014). Ujamaa, the hidden story of Tanzania’s socialist village. London: Crossroads Women Centre.Google Scholar
  31. International Monetary Fund (IMF 2013) World Economy Survey; Sub- Saharan Africa. Accessed Oct 2014.
  32. Jackson, A. L., Sullivan, A. L., & Hodge, N. C. (1993). Stereotypes effects on attributions, predictions and evaluations: No two social judgments are alike. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 69–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. James, A., & James, A. (2001). Childhood: Toward a theory of continuity and change. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 575, 25–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. James, A., & Prout, A. (1997). Constructing and re-constructing childhood. London: Falmer Press.Google Scholar
  35. James, A., Jenks, C., & Prout, A. (2002). Theorizing childhood. London: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  36. Kassam, Y. (1995). Julius Nyerere. Paris: UNESCO Publishing.Google Scholar
  37. Kenyatta, J. (1965). Facing Mount Kenya. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  38. Kilbride, P. (2010). A cultural and gender perspective on marginal children on the street of Kenya. Childhood in Africa, an Interdisciplinary Journal, 2(1), 38–47.Google Scholar
  39. Ladson-Billings, G. (1995). Toward a theory of culturally relevant pedagogy. American Educational Research Journal, 32, 465–491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Langdridge, D., & Taylor, S. (2007). Critical readings in social psychology. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Maathai, W. (2009). The challenge for Africa. London: Arrow Books.Google Scholar
  42. Mandela, N. (1994). Long walk to freedom: The autobiography of Nelson Mandela. London: Brown Book Group.Google Scholar
  43. Mansilla, V. B., & Gardner, H. (2007). From teaching globalisation to nurturing global consciousness. University Press of California Press.Google Scholar
  44. Mazrui, A. (2000). A preliminary critique of a TV series by Henry Louis Gate Jr. Black Scholar, 5.Google Scholar
  45. McLeod, S. A. (2008). Simply psychology. Available from: Accessed 20 Mar 2017.
  46. Meinck, F., Cluver, L. D., Boyes, M. E., & Mhlongo, L. E. (2015). Risk and protective factors for physical and sexual abuse of children and adolescent in Africa: A review and implications for practice. Trauma, Violence & Abuse, 16, 81–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Mercer, N. (2000). Words and minds: How we use language to think together. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  48. Msafiri Magazine. (2014). 10 African heroes. Available from: Accessed 26 Nov 2016.
  49. NHS. (2014). Ebola virus disease; an overview. Available from: Accessed 2 Apr 2017.
  50. Njoya, T. M. (2008). The crisis of explosive masculinity. Men for the Equality of Men and Women (MEW). Nairobi: Karen.Google Scholar
  51. Njoya, M. W. (2015). History: My true story: Accessed 30 Oct 2015.
  52. Njoya, T. M. (2017). WE the people: Thinking heavenly acting Kenyanly. Nairobi: Word Alive Publishers.Google Scholar
  53. Nwomonoh, J. (1998). Education and development in Africa: A contemporary survey. London: International Scholars Publication.Google Scholar
  54. Onimode, B. (2009). A future for Africa: Beyond the politics of adjustment. London: Earth Scan publishers.Google Scholar
  55. Pascal, Z. G. (2008). The coming revolution in Africa. Wilson Quarterly, 50–66.Google Scholar
  56. Phillips, D., & Schweisfurth, M. (2007). Comparative education and international education. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  57. Pillay, J. (2014). Advancement of children’s rights in Africa: A social justice frame work for school psychologist. School Psychology International, 35, 225–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Poncian, J. (2015). The persistence of western negative perception about Africa: Factoring the role of Africans. Journal of African Studies and Development, 7, 72–80.Google Scholar
  59. Sternberg, R. J. (2007). Who are the bright children? The cultural context of being and acting intelligent. Educational Researcher, 36(3), 148–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. The Good Child Report. (2015). The children’s society: Accessed 16 Feb 2018.
  61. The Guardian. (2014). BBC: ‘We have a ‘duty’ to make the Rwandan genocide documentary. Available from: Accessed 02 Apr 2017.
  62. The Telegraph. (2015). The Rwanda untold story, BBC 2: Review-intense. Available from: Accessed 2 Apr 2015.
  63. Thiong’o, N. (1983). Homecoming; essays on African and Caribbean literature culture and politics. New York: Lawrence Hill.Google Scholar
  64. Twum-Danso, I. (2013). Children’s perceptions of physical punishment in Ghana and the implications for the children’s rights. Childhood, 20, 1–15.Google Scholar
  65. UNESCO. (2015). Early childhood care and education. Available from: Accessed 13 Mar 2017.
  66. United Nations. (1989). United Nations convection on rights of children. Available from: Accessed 20 Feb 2014.
  67. Woods, P. (2006). Inside schools, ethnography in education research. London: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Evelyn Wandia Corrado
    • 1
    Email author
  • Leena Helavaara Robertson
    • 1
  1. 1.Middlesex UniversityLondonUK

Personalised recommendations