Leaders behaving badly: Hate speech takes centre stage

Gatundu South MP, Moses Kuria, who is known for not mincing his words, was recorded making inflammatory remarks towards Prime Minister Raila Odinga. The lawmaker can be seen making an excitable demand for the government to assassinate the Prime Minister, although he has gone on to defend himself saying that the words were taken out of context, ‘They have said I mentioned the Luo community today. I did not. But they control social media,’ he wrote in a Facebook post. Which does not really help clear the air but might actually add fuel to the fire.

This is in no way new and Moses Kuria does not stand alone in expressing his opinions which may be termed as hate speech for some. Bahati MP, Kimani Ngunjiri has come under fire for stating that people belonging to a certain ethnic community in Kenya should be removed from Nakuru town. These words were uttered when members of the CORD party, including Raila Odinga held a political rally at the town on Saturday, June 11. Even before that particular rally occurred there was already some negativity about it being held in Nakuru in the public.

Ferdinand Waititu, who holds a public office as the Kabete Member of Parliament is under investigation by the police for earlier utterances. He was quoted saying; “[CORD] they should know that they have no monopoly of violence or even monopoly of throwing stones and also for demonstrating. Once they pass the limit, we will engage them physically.”

Kenya might still be a developing nation but that does not mean that our politicians have to act in the same manner as well. Elected officials have an obligation to the very same people who elected them to behave accordingly. One of the primary causes of the 2007 Post-election Violence was hate speech. And since then, it has been a touchy subject.

Although the National Cohesion and Integration Commission has summoned both Kuria and Ngunjiri over the remarks they made it is shocking that there is still an opportunity for such statements, especially from leaders.

As observed by chair of the NCIC, Francis Ole Kaparo, Kenyans seem to be generally uncomfortable with hate speech but not when it is coming from members of their own tribe. Topics concerning hate speech start trending whenever there is a major political sweep in the country. The recent upticks might not be an indication of anything brewing in the horizon but when it comes to politics, have Kenyans ever taken back their words?

We all wait with bated breath as the concerned bodies have promised yet again to deal with the hate mongering leaders.

 

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