Akallah, Jethron Ayumbah CV -

Akallah, Jethron Ayumbah

Jethron Ayumbah Akallah has been a PhD student in the Department of History of Technology at the Technische Universität Darmstadt since December 2014. He focuses on water and sanitation technology in Nairobi, with a special interest in innovations within informal areas. Employing the concepts of co-production and postcolonial perspective, his research aims to break away from the history of technology that focuses on invention and origin to focus more on use, meaning and effect (Arnold, 2005). He realizes this within the larger framework of the URBANgrad programme,“Urban Infrastructures in Transition: The Case of African Cities”, as funded by the Hans Boeckler Stiftung.Jethron holds an MA in History and B.Ed (Arts) First Class Honors degree from Maseno University, Kenya. His MA dissertation was on social fragmentation and marginalization of the urban poor in Kibera, Nairobi in the period 1963-2002. This focused on the treatment of informal areas as ignored regions.Jethron has taught history at Maseno University’s department of History and Archaeology for over four years. He has written two chapters on Kenya’s colonial and post-colonial political history in two books edited by the doyen of Kenyan history, the late Professor William Robert Ochieng’.

PhD Project

In the Technological Footprints of Urbanity: Water, Sanitation and Informality in Nairobi City, 1920-2015

The history of urbanization in Africa has tended to approach cities from above or from the centre. For example, historians of urban technologies usually pay particular attention to the establishment of centralized, “Large Technical Systems” of resource provision. Adopting a post-colonial perspective and the concept of co-production, this study of water and sanitation in Nairobi demonstrates the limitations of the traditional approach. Instead of being conceived as a “utility” for all inhabitants, the central water system was from the outset meant to reproduce a dichotomized city based on racial subjugation. Ironically, the exclusion of the majority of the population from these infrastructures called forth an array of innovative solutions, which tend to be bracketed in the established literature. Moving between the formal level of engineering and planning and the informal level of daily practice, the dissertation investigates how urban water and sanitation technologies were adopted, appropriated, and contested by various actors. Archival investigations and oral accounts are employed and analyzed qualitatively through corroboration.

University Studies and Degrees

Since 12/2014 Doctoral Studies(History of Technology, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Darmstadt, Germany)
09/2008-11/2012 Master of History(Department of History and Archaeology, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Maseno University, Kisumu, Kenya)
09/2002-12/2006 Bachelor of Education (Arts) – History and Government/Kiswahili(Faculty of Education, Maseno University, Kisumu, Kenya)

Professional Experiences

Since 11/2012 Tutorial Fellow, Maseno University, Kisumu, Kenya
09/2012-11/2012 Graduate Assistant, Maseno University, Kisumu, Kenya
01/2007-08/2008 Teacher of History and Government/Kiswahili, Nairobi Muslim Academy, Nairobi Kenya
09/2006-01/2007 Teacher of History and Government/Kiswahili, Malava Boys High School, Kakamega, Kenya

Scholarships and Awards

11/2014-11/2017 PhD Fellowship funded by the Hans Boeckler Stiftung, Germany
06/2009-11/2012 Maseno University Graduate Trainee/Assistant Scholarship Programme


Akallah, J.A (2012) “The Luhya Politics” in Ochieng, W.R; Cokumu, P.O and Akallah, J.A; A History of Western Kenya in the 20th and 21st Centuries, Kisumu, Lake Publishers and Stationers Limited.Akallah, J.A (2013) „The Second Kibaki Era; 2007-2013: Seeking Stability within Turbulent Waters“ in W.R Ochieng (ed)) A History of Independent Kenya: A celebration of 50 years of Independence, Kisumu, Lake Publishers and Stationers Limited.

Talks and Conferences

  • (forthcoming) ECAS 2015 6th European Conference on African Studies, Paris, 8-10 July 2015, on Collective Mobilizations in Africa: Contestation, resistance and revolt


  • Graduate School for Urban Studies (URBANgrad), Technische Universität Darmstadt
  • Kenya University Staffs Union
  • West Kenya Historical Association
  • Kenya Teachers Service Commission