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songs of mobility in West Pokot



Expert witnesses and scholars have been unable to locate the wellsprings of the postwar millennial ardor of the Pokot, an East African cattle-keeping people seemingly untouched by modernity and colonial rule. In this article I provide a revisionist reading of Pokot religious enthusiasm and the social terrain in which it took shape. Drawing primarily on new ethnographic data about the activities and aspirations of Pokot adherents of the proscribed Dini ya Msambwa movement, I argue that the lure of an earthly Zion in a Kenyan colonial backwater bespeaks a crisis of mobility in the spiritual and material worlds. More generally, I show how millennialism in colonial settings may remake modernity by relocating its iconographies and technologies of power and worth.

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