“Whence Kenya?: Some thoughts on where Kenya is after the March, 2013 elections

Speaker:   Tom Wolf
Topic:   “Whence Kenya?: Some thoughts on where Kenya is after the March, 2013 elections – and the Westgate Mall attack – based on a selection of recent national public survey findings”
Date:    Thursday, December 5, 2013
Time:   12:00 – 1:30 p.m.
Place:   Room 201 International Center

Dr. Tom Wolf, originally from Detroit, has been working for the last few years as Chief Research Analyst, Public Affairs, for IPSOS-Kenya in Nairobi.  (IPSOS is a French-owned market research, media monitoring, and survey company – the world’s third largest, with a fixed-presence in 84 countries, 12 in Africa, and doing business in more than 100).

Tom has lived in Kenya for nearly 30 years since first going there in the third group of secondary school Peace Corps teachers in 1967 (which he got involved in quite accidentally!), immediately after graduating from Oberlin College.  After several more years of overseas work and travel and completing an M.A. in African Studies at Ohio University, he returned to Kenya to conduct fieldwork on local political leadership in his area of Peace Corps service (Taita/Coast Province, 1960-80), and he obtained his doctorate from the University of Sussex (UK). He then taught Comparative Politics at the University of Nairobi (while also coordinating Study Abroad programs for Kalamazoo College, Penn State University, and the 5-college program based at U-Mass./Amherst), and then served as Democracy/Governance Advisor to the USAID Kenya Mission.  His most recent publication includes: ‘International Justice vs. Public Opinion?: The ICC and Ethnic Polarisation in the 2013 Kenya Election’, Journal of African Elections, Vol. 12, No. 1 (August, 2013).

Since 2002 Tom has worked as a governance consultant in Kenya and the region.   However, it was his engagement by a local monitoring and evaluation firm to conduct the first Kenyan Afrobarometer survey in 2003 that led to his current, nearly full-time career in survey research.  Specifically, he is responsible for analyzing and presenting the findings of IPSOS’ (at least) quarterly national public surveys to the Kenyan media, often appearing on TV and radio news and other public affairs programs to explain/defend the results.  For better or worse, almost everyone in Kenya knows him now!

Although he nearly failed second-year French at college, Tom has taught Swahili in five countries (he also speaks Taita).  However, he considers his greatest achievement to be an on-stage performance with the Father of Bluegrass Music, Bill Monroe, and his band, the Bluegrass Boys, at a festival in Indiana in 1977.