This article explores the incremental privatization of what is today East Africa's largest corporation, communications and finance firm Safaricom. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, British multinational Vodafone became a partial shareholder of Safaricom, with the government of Kenya retaining the majority stake in the company. This was followed by the company going “public” in 2008 through an Initial Public Offering (IPO). In exploring these transformations, this article demonstrates that privatization was not a singular event but turned on the production of divisibility: a discursive, epistemological, and material process whereby seemingly “classificatory wholes”—a corporation, an infrastructure, a state asset—were first presented and then rendered as partible entities. As the lines between the public and the private were being redrawn, another conceptual series—“citizenship,” “development,” the “public”—were similarly transformed into partible objects subject to division. Unraveling the historical entanglement of the corporation and the state, this article clarifies why, today, Kenyans—some of whom have been reformatted as shareholder-client-citizens—call on Safaricom to act like the state from which it has been incrementally “unbundled.”

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