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Generating Hate Crime Through Public Speaking

Language most often becomes an issue, in day-to-day life,
because of relationships of power and the abuse of such relationships

Legal protection against injury of a person’s reputation is a reasonable trans-cultural goal of the law. The question is how to accommodate freedom of the press against the law of defamation, whether civil or criminal. Reputation is covered in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights of 1966. Freedom of speech and press still defamation stands on the way as a civil offense.


Philosophers or scholars of language do admit that language has a lot to do with the culture, social psychology among many other related influences including the media products and services. We should not extract human beings from the society…because man is a social being. How we use the language shall be determined by the community or audience being addressed. The smaller the audience the easier the communication skills. The more diverse the audience is, the more public speakers get engaged in tussles with the quality of communication and the law.

But remember that communication is always a dialogue. One is sending signals to the other who is supposed to interpret such signals to get the meaning. The process is not easy since both the transmitter and the receiver have got different world views and many other influencing factors that usually cause misrepresentation of ideas. Putting any idea across is not an easy task. Many tend to struggle with words to use, symbols to use, and which metaphors and poetic signs that would make it easier for the receiver to decode the message. The failure of such techniques of decoding the language is what usually lead public speakers to defamatory statements.

Hate speech becomes a crime when it causes injuries and damages to a person. This is linked to the hate crime which is punishable by law. The Penal Code and Criminal Procedures are clear on this. For instance, if a speech made by one person makes the other person suffer injuries or even loss, then this is a hate crime. The hate means some well indicated dislike of a person. There are such cases pending in court and it would be a subjudice for me to discuss them on this open platform.

A number of things lead to hate speech but what is outstanding is social psychology. Some public speakers believe that the more they tear into another person’s personality the more they persuade the listeners. Saying that Mr. X is a liar, one thinks that his or her audience shall interpret it to mean that he is honest.

Public speaking is a challenge. Any speaker must prepare well and know his or her audience very well before uttering a word. But this is not easy since the audience is now unknown to the speaker as such messages get across through social media. The speaker in this case has no time nor any medium to justify his speech and explain to the audience what he really had in mind. This is what leads to misunderstanding, misquotation and mistakes in reporting. Even if the speech was properly recorded, the author usually tends to argue that he was not understood by the listeners.

This leads us to discuss about the intent. Did the speaker intend to harm the listener? Did the speaker have a malice aforethought? How should this be determined by law? The judicial process relies on procedures, technicalities and evidence of facts in determining defamatory cases. Lack of sufficient evidence to sustain the case is the recipe of failure on the part of the complainant. Literary, the complainant has the burden of proof using preponderance of evidence available. The defense shall always use such evidence to water down the argument of the complainant. The defense usually use, the role of a politician – to speak openly or give open speech as part of their mandate. Then they go on arguing that it is their duty to represent the people so they must speak openly and express their views freely. Some claim, they did not have any malicious intent against the listener of the claimant. But how does one draw a line between open speech and hate speech?

The claimant usually claims damages and injuries (of reputation) under the civil procedures, and if it wins, he claims compensation (defamation award) in tune of millions of money. Some of such claims include intentionally damaging one’s reputation in public, putting some one’s security in public jeopardy, and even causing damages such as losing a job or developing poor social relationships with other people. Again the claimant usually claims injuries to his or her own personality which can only be quantified by justice in tort. Such injury shall require redress and it is the court to ensure that the complainant is properly redressed and justice is done under the common law system. It is in this context that successful defamatory proceedings end up in big pecuniary obligations imposed on the defendant by the court.

The defendants, who in this case are usually politicians, shall use every mitigation measure such as exculpatory appeal to his or her community or political party in defense. Such use of the community to justify a politician tends to exploit the will of the people and to claim that he has the duty to represent the people in public (open speech). When can we say that the politician acted in his private capacity and when can we argue that he was speaking in his public capacity? Public speaking exposes one to various sorts of criticism by journalists and other politicians even if the constitution does not distinguish the law protecting the reputation of politicians and none politicians. The law is applied generally and even politicians have a right to have their reputation protected. To some extent, private individuals deserve more protection as compared to politicians whose reputation is open to public criticism.

As cases on defamation keep on dwindling in the corridors of justice, it is clear that defense lawyers are engaged in watering down the claims of the plaintiff by using such arguments as semantic problems, misunderstanding, open speech and not hate speech, failure to get the meaning, doctoring the message by using new technology, or misinterpretation of the law. Any Kenyan has the right of reply whenever he or she is persuaded to believe that there is malicious falsehood and inaccuracy in information about his personality, name, title or business.  Since there has not been a clear line between open speech and hate speech, litigants tend always to trade on the lacunae in the legal system and turn over defamation cases despite the Defamation Act of 1992 (consisting only of 20 sections). However, the law is clear also on unintentional defamation under section 13.

Actually, there has not been any successful defamation case in Kenya due to such controversial concepts and doctrines in law, as politicizing justice process. There is poor jurisprudence on defamation law in Kenya. Politicians always gang-up (collective bargain) to support their ally in court saying that they are giving moral support. Some even apply for amicus curiae to offer more support to their colleague. Such collective bargain tend to determine the direction of justice.

Also to consider is the sense of belonging to a political party. If one belongs to a powerful and well connected and popular political party, then, he is a more advantage. In this case, the politician does not just care about hate speech. The weaker parties or communities are more vulnerable and must be careful about their speech as compared to others. This is the politics of patronage that propagates hate speech at the detriment of the administration of justice. This is what is referred as impunity. Furthermore, when one is rich he or she will get away with the crime in Kenya, so wealth and justice also must be considered inter alia. This is what is referred to as corrupting the administration of justice.

However, language must be discussed within the cultural and transcultural contexts. In some cultures saying one thing may sound normal to listeners but in some cultures saying a word that sounds defamatory is considered offensive. Calling someone son of a bitch may sound less offensive if the affected party’s culture does not see a bitch as bad, immoral and indecent. The contrary is when the community culture depicts a bitch as an evil person, immoral and impure. In such prurient societies, calling someone son of a bitch may be very offensive, therefore, illegal. But if such word is acceptable, people tend not to criminalize it.

It is also necessary to consider the perspective. In which perspective was the speaker using the word? Words can be changed using logic to express another meaning. This is to say, there is no regular language. There are many irregularities that end up in causing ambiguity. Justice system shall always rely on sources and causality of the an alleged offense. In addition, it is the procedure, expediency, as well as the technicality that matters mostly other than morality, consistency and traditions.

Whether in defense or in offense it is necessary to consider the doctrine in common law, the duty of care.
Every public speaker is bound to respect the duty of care meant for the public. Whenever one is uttering words or making an open speech in public, he or she, must be aware of the responsibility attached to the words used. Under the law of tort we are all bound to consider our duty to take care of others. This means, if the words can harm other individuals or the community or compromise such societal values as peace…shall form judgmental considerations.

About Peter Onyango

Dr. Peter Onyango O. is one of our main contributors. He is a senior law lecturer, a writer, a consultant, peace ambassador, and a researcher. He assists so many professionals, legal minds, and debaters with his skills and scholarly wealth! He supports children and village community as a way of giving back to community. He edits, proof reads, and publishes various articles for our page!


  1. Impressive reading!

    I have a huge interest in public relations. I therefore, believe that the messages a sender packages for his or her audience should be prepared with utmost care and consideration.

    Too many lives have been lost due to careless remarks spewed out by careless people.

    Messages should be packaged to inform audiences not to annoy them in my thinking.


    • Remember that in the reading of the work of Wittgenstein it is clear that the language reflects the truth about the community. But even this position has been challenged by many scholars by saying that language also expresses our thoughts about things. Others see language as related to the neurotic component of the speaker’s status… for instance if the speaker is agitated and emotional, then the message may appear to arouse emotions in the intended and unintended listeners. Please discuss this issue again considering cognitive neuroscientists, linguists, philosophers, and psychologists.

      • Words spoken can never be taken back even after an apology and the sender should always have the receiver in mind when passing any information. The freedom of expression should not be taken for granted by the fourth estate, the opinion leaders and the citizens at large. Spreading hatred through spoken words has been a major reason of instability in most countries in the 21st century. The Late professor Saitoti once said that there comes a time when the Nation is much more important than an individual. Hate mongers should be held accountable on their use of language regardless of their social status. The media should play its role as a watchdog and adhere to the code of ethics that governs it in reporting issues to ensure they minimize harm as much as possible.

        • Lots of reading materials have been shared in your group email. The purpose is to build a platform of informed opinion. It is a pleasure to appreciate the 4 of you who have engaged in this exercise. Try to read at least one article per day and get to understand how other professionals discuss the same problem of public speaking. You can comment on what has been said by a colleague. Share views freely. This platform is meant to help participants engage in applied ethics and how to debate serious issues facing the modern society. It is in this way that professional practitioners in the field will easily understand how to deal with certain ethical dilemmas facing them. So far so good, the system is tabulating the frequency of the participation, level of knowledge you are developing, and the quality and standard targeted by the practice. Thanks so much for participating.

          • Very insightful article. I agree with Lugwig Wittsgestein that public speakers should measure the weight of their words and their consequences against public good. Leaders should be careful and logical in their choice and use of words and use appropriate language that promote public interest and not narrow and at times injurious and selfish personal or specific group interests. However, the media has a duty, as gatekeepers to either moderate such utterances or dismiss them all together if they are set to cause public disharmony. The media have a moral, ethical and moral duty of censoring hate speech for the general good of society, however, this is not the case in most of our newsrooms. Indeed, some years back a certain kanu politician from Nakuru a Mr Leitich, now deceased, during a public rally called on party supporters to cut off fingers of opposition followers who were flashing a two finger salute in support of calls for multiparty democracy in the country, which led to a lot of animosity due to the publicity his statement received. What would have been the effect had his statement been ignored?

        • Wamahu I like what you have said up there. That words spoken can never be taken back even after an apology. This is why i believe that every politician or just anyone who is in a position to address the public should go through some training in communication. it is very essential that one thinks and structures what they are going to say. This is why it is important to have a well written speech and actually use it. character/personality also contributes in a big way especially in cases where the speaker has to give a random speech or address the media unprepared. Hot tempered personalities will tend to speak words that they later have to apologize for.
          The media as the Watch Dog plays a major role in this whole mess by airing the hate speeches and taking the joy in making news out of them. Hate speech makes news and this motivates the journalists to run after every known controversial politician hoping that they will make a mistake somehow so that they get to air the news. This is why George Claassen refers to them as having moved from being watchdogs to being mad dogs in his book ´WHY ETHICS MATTER`


  2. For journalists and news editors, the dilemma that has always been whether or not to air hate speech messages or inciting remarks made by leaders. The argument has always been, we cannot control what they (politicians) say during rallies and other public gatherings, but we can control how much of it makes it through to the airwaves. The problem though is one media house may decide not to air only for another to lead with it. What happens thereafter is that the media house that had opted not to air the inciting remarks is seen as unreliable and often has to play catch-up soon after. The situation now is even worse with the rise and rise of social media influence, mainstream media is struggling to catch up.
    What of the role of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) that should be dealing with perpetrators of hate speech but that has openly admitted it has no prosecutorial powers?

    My view is that the problem of language will continue as long as those with ‘long tongues’ remain untamed, hiding comfortably behind the banner of ‘freedom of expression’.


  3. Simon Kigamba Mungai

    Wittgenstein view of language as a game that may be known to a particular community while another community may interpret it differently can explain why some politicians just utter words without giving them a second thought with regard to their audience. For instance when Hon. Aden Duale said ‘Hii pesa si ya mama yako’ that is – this money does not belong to your mother-, may be in his community that is not offensive. In fact he may have gained some popularity among his kinsmen. It is important for leaders of his caliber to to do some audience research before engaging in such conversation of public interest.

    • Wow! This is now cool. It is true that public speakers are not keen on the type of audiences they are addressing and this causes misunderstandings, communication raptures, and problem of interpreting some metaphors used by politicians. Kenya is a multi-ethnic society with varied audiences. Mass communication is not only addressed to one community anymore but a wider range of communities. This is indeed a problem. According to you Mr. Kigamba, what would you suggest so that messages directed to such undefined audiences can get them properly?

    • Simon Kigamba Mungai

      In my view, public speakers must do some audience research before delivering any speech to undefined audience. The speaker should always clarify what he/she may think would be misinterpreted. If a word is attached to different meanings in different communities, the speaker should always emphasize on the particular meaning that he/she wants the audience to take home.


      • This is great argument Mr Kigamba, to add on your points on how to solve, I would like to point out that one of the best solution to this is writing down a speech either themselves (speakers) or engaging a professional speech writer, this will help in ensuring that the type of audience is well researched on. The speaker should also make sure that they stick to the written script, great leaders like Barack Obama have succeeded in this, if our politicians follow this civilized manner then we will have no or less hate speech.


      • Hesbon kerage K50/87651/2016

        I support your argument Mr. Kigamba that audience research has to be done before speech delivery.This is due most Public speakers have always blamed the audience and media for wrong interpretation of intended meaning as their defense in court and it has become a trend especially in Kenya.Politicians have taken advantage being law makers and senior people in government to spread hate speech without caring on the consequences there after.Others go as far as using vernacular to avoid other people from getting meaning.

    • I just thought about the latest statement that the President made as concerns “kukula nyama na kumeza mate.” There was definitely an intended message that he had in mind as he used this particular phrase, however the uproar on social media and on other political forums clearly indicates that every one has a particular way of decoding the message. I tend to think that apart from doing a background check it is of utmost importance that you need to think through what you are about to say just before you say it, there is very little that you can do once it comes out, but you can salvage the situation before you actually say a word. This is something that every public speaker should incorporate in his preparation just before he/she speaks.

  4. After carefully reading this article, I tend to agree with the sentiments of Goebbel on repeating a lie even though this is not directly related to hate crime. For other scholars such as Wittgenstein, there is a tendency to imply that leaders are solely responsible for their unchecked utterances causing hate crimes. Speaking of hate speech typically, I tend to feel that the mass media has a duty to be responsible and sieve out the “dramatic” elements they look for in utterances by news makers. If the media decided not to publish acute utterances, their impacts to hatred would be less influential in the society. The reason I agree with Goebbel is on this aspect where the media picks on one hate statement and keeps repeating it in its bulletins throwing a bullet of hatred in the masses. I therefore feel the interpretation and explanation of the mass media towards messages thought to be filled with hatred cab neutralize such effects in the society because masses also have a great trust for the angles taken by the media that often instill hatred. Otherwise, the article is great.
    Regards-K50/87505/2016 Mr Khalwale, Research Consultancy.

  5. Pauline Nyambura K50/88723/2016

    Language is used for human communication and is either spoken or written; it consists of words used in a structured and conventional way. Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (1889-1951) made a major contribution to conversations on ethics, the way that we should live in the world. His view of language was that anyone who seeks to communicate must do so clearly and effectively. It is important to be very considerate and sensitive to the audience. Each one of us has a moral responsibility to use words that do not distort whatever it is we are attempting to communicate. Speakers must remember that all words have meaning and when used in speeches e.g. in public gatherings they are open for interpretation. Evidently the audience has the ability to interpret what the speaker is communicating. It is therefore best to ensure that what one intends to communicate is well thought out. The platform given to leaders must always be used to generate positive outcome and especially via the messages that are communicated. Like everything else, a positive and successful message must be one that is planned.

    Years ago an anonymous writer penned a short poem aptly capturing the merits of measuring our words.
    A wise old owl sat in an oak;
    The more he saw the less he spoke;
    The less he spoke the more he heard;
    Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?

  6. Pauline Nyambura K50/88723/2016

    Jane that’s very true.
    Sometimes I also worry about the audience. Does the audience have any responsibility in promoting hate speaking leaders? Why do we still offer platforms over and over again for the same leaders to do/ say the same things that we find unacceptable? Could it be that we have not yet reconciled with the fact that what we repeatedly hear can form our perception towards the issues we face? E.g. The recent comments in Kenya on those eating meat and those salivating. This can easily lead into the Kenyan people grouping themselves into two, those who are eating and those salivating.

  7. @Eveline I totally agree with your sentiments about one media house sensoring a hate message only for it to be broadcast by another.

    I tend to think that competition among broadcasters on who scoops a political story could be the driver to some of these actions. Actions that mean inciteful messages are not filtered and so they end up getting to audiences thereby leading to loss of lives.

    It’s important to note that self regulation could go a long way to cub this on the side of broadcasters.

    Communication should be key but not at the expense of the audience.

  8. Interesting read. It opens up my mind to review political speak in view of nature of meaning and language use as captured in the philosophy of language. I believe that if we all understood how language relates to the minds of both the speaker and the receiver/ interpreter; as electorates we would make better decisions and change the politics of the day. In my opinion, many a times, the language used by politicians is used to elicit emotions.

  9. Hello, this is an informative piece.
    But i just can’t help but query whether money and context play a role in distorting language, meaning of words and their interpretations. my world view, i want to believe also plays a major role in defining levels of communication at either a personal or public level. Now, with such influence ethics in communication will not find a place in our daily conversations. Language opposite of what it should achieve -creating informed conversation- will as a consequence create misconceptions and distortions.


  10. The question of language and how different audiences attach meaning is problematic.First,we operate in an environment in which we hardly do any retrospection before we speak. I am of the view that if public speaker were deliberate in choosing the words they use, the shock they at times aubject their audience would be minimises. But theaudience ia not entirely blameless
    At times the audience appear to set the threshold for the speaker. For instance, president jomo kenyatta was know to be pretty liberal in the use abusive words. And the audience would have been disappointed if he sounded overly civil. My view is language and its meaning should be seen contextually. What meanings we attach will vary depending on the ones orientation.

  11. Many a times journalists from the various media house do things in the name of public right to know but that same public has such a short attention span that it doesn’t remember the event in question. But as an individual, one has a script that s/he follows, some may call it code of ethics/conduct but at all times its prudent to consult our conscience at every decision point.


  12. Simon Kigamba Mungai

    According to Wittgenstein, the meaning of a word is in its use. That explains why many politicians say they have been misquoted after they deliver a speech. The meaning of the word, as interpreted by the target audience, may provoke some individuals to actualize it by harming others. As indicated in this article, public speakers should rehearse their speeches before they address the audience lest they cause “unintended” chaos through their utterances.

  13. Informative work.

    In as much as the politicians are irresponsible in their utterances for political mileage, the media plays a critical role in determining what reaches the people. The media sets the agenda as explained in the agenda setting theory. This sets the discussion that individuals engage in and I believe the media can intentionally give the hate monger politicians a blackout. This will serve as a lesson to the politicians.
    In addition, our legal systems should be deliberate in prosecuting all hate mongers by making sure the process is fast tracked. Our system has failed Kenyans. Why do we need to prove hate speech when there is clear record in the media?

  14. Good reading with historical perspectives. You have reminded me about the death of Bishop Alexander Kipsang Muge which followed some caustic remarks by then Cabinet Minister Peter Habenga Okondo. Lack of laws made Okondo get away with the threat to Muge that he “will not return from Busia alive.” Okondo may have spoken prophetically but he was not responsibnle for Muge’s death a rogue driver with an unroadworthy lorry knocked Muge’s car head on killing him instantly as he was returning from Busia.
    In Kenya though we have laws on hate speech, the slow wheels of justice make a mockery of the law. Since the law was promulgated, high profile politicians have been arraigned in court but there has been no conviction. In one instance former Cabinet Minister Chirau Mwakwere got away by offering a public apology.
    As we move towards the general elections perhaps this is the time when the law on hate speech should be implemented swiftly as Kenyans want to see hate mongers being held to account.
    Regarding broadcast of hate speech, I believe the media should edit out the contentious parts of the speech as they have social responsibility. A media house which goes on to air hate speech in the name of attracting or retaining viewers should be equally charged with the offense of perpetrating hate speech. I argue that most media houses in Kenya have not learnt a thing or two from the Rwandan experience where a radio station was used to stock the flames of violence. In Kenya our media I fear that our media will one day cause the country to burn irretrievably.

  15. Pauline Nyambura K50/88723/2016

    It would be good to take time to proactively understand the culture, current political environment, socio-economic status etc of the audience

  16. Simon Kigamba Mungai

    In my view, public speakers should do some audience research before delivering any speech to undefined audience. The speaker should always clarify what he/ she meant with some words that he/she may think are likely to be misinterpreted. For example, if a word means something different in two or more different communities, the speaker should explain the intended meaning or STOP using that word altogether.


  17. I believe that rehearsing speeches before delivering them is not entirely the solution to address hate speeches as Johann Wittgenstein argues. The solution lies in the control of words and emotions by politicians and sticking to the script. There several instances where politicians read their ‘beautiful speeches’ but later utter words are border on hate speech.

    • Hi Mr. Irungu, what is your take on training oneself to be a public speaker? Words mean a lot when they come from an Executive such as the Head of State. Remember that by large, what the head of state says in public is taken as an authority. What is your opinion on having a prepared and informed speech rather than free speaking in public? I would appreciate your contribution on how best we can improve mass communication in Kenya. Remember that any word that is not clearly stated can create side effects or bear collateral damage to other innocent humans.

  18. In my opinion, it is not a question of ignorance with our politicians in uttering hate speeches, most of them know what they are doing, it is a tactic as old as time, divide and conquer. The only way some of them know how to accrue power is by pitting us against each other, in our case, drawing tribal lines.
    Most of them are not intimidated by the prospect of prosecution like the article points out. They will cling to the defense that they were misquoted, or that their utterances were taken out of context. Harsher consequences need to be introduced in my opinion and the media, as the public watch dog, also needs to play its part because we as a nation, have a long standing issue of short term memory

  19. “Without ethics, a human race falls to inhumanity. Ethics determines your real value in this world and the hereafter.” Says Nazim Ambalath in respect to Johann Wittgenstein states that ethics determines what we speak and what we say. As much as people do not think of repercussions of uttering without a second thought, their words come back to haunt them. Hence, a strongly believe that the freedom of speech should never be abused at whatever level.

  20. Wittgenstein’s ideas on ethical communication are necessary and aided in the revolution of public speaking. However, it is paramount to note that even in the age of education literacy and ethical ideologies concerning communication, most public leaders tend to have political demagogues to do their dirty bidding in public.

    It is on rare occasions in Africa that any president speaks recklessly in front of the public in this 21st century but there will always be leaders tied to the president who will be used to make the careless, reckless and inflammatory remarks that the president cannot make due to national security. This was depicted in Germany during the Second World War as Hitler used a man called Joseph Goebbels as his own personal propagandist. This same trend is seen in African whereby political leaders from different tribes are used to make careless communication for the purpose of marginalizing people. I believe it is only when lawmakers and judges intertwine law, the constitution with ethical communication ideologies such as the ones advanced by Wittgenstein that maybe people will be held responsible for the utterances and remarks that they make, whether in public or even in written materials. This is because unethical communication cannot be prosecuted if it is not first deemed unlawful. There out to be responsibility whereby the cases are thoroughly investigated so that even those political demagogues, mostly doing bidding for senior government officials such as the president or opposition leader, can always be warned and arrested.

    Additionally, a part form the already imposed psychological test for persons vying elective positions, it is imperative to make sure that the people vying for political offices took at least one unit of ethical communication in any level of their education life. This can be implemented by working with the education curriculum committees in the country. It is sometimes ignorance that leads to unethical political communication and not arrogance or complete disregard of ethical communication as most people presume.


  21. @assiagency;
    Practicing public speaking and making informative speeches may to an extent suppress hate crimes. However, all lies in our ethics and principles in communication. For instance, President Obama rarely uses written speeches. But you will rarely find him issuing inflammatory statements. Comparing President Obama with Mr. Trump tells a lot about ethics, principles and what one believes in, ability to stick to what is good for general public and not getting personal while on stage. As a matter of fact, most political leaders find it hard to stick to the script of their speech, so i think leaders should be trained on public speaking .

    • Do the media have a stake in this? Share!

      • SHEILA MULINYA K50/87092/2016

        Dr. Onyango the media do have a stake in it. the newsroom protocol of the Editor approving that which goes out to the public eventually in a news bulletin means the buck stops with the media. They are solely responsible for what goes out in the form of news whether highlights or news items. They should therefore package their messages ethically and professionally.

  22. I think in any form of communication simplicity in the language used is key to ensuring the message is well received. Using metaphors, jargon or any other form of speech that may throw the receiver into disarray should be avoided. The media is also seen to be fanning the hate speech in different scenarios depicted in the article. By echoing or re-broadcasting the same venomous utterances, only propagates the vice. Just like in programing where censorship takes place to protect the audiences, news coming from media outlets ought to be packaged in a way that won’t compromise the social fabric of any nation. The gatekeepers ought to be more vigilant.

  23. @Simon, I think politicians (as public speakers) do a lot of audience research before making any speeches. Little of what they say is unintentional. Politicians know exactly what they want to say and exactly which nerve to irk when making political statements. It is in manipulating political grievances that they stroke up just enough emotions to act as a catalyst for ‘action’. Their end game is to secure the vote. They know how reacting to oppositions’ rhetoric will manipulate their audience and so most times, though their speeches may sound ‘off-the-cuff’, they have been carefully crafted to hit just the right nerve. Saying, therefore, that they need to clarify or explain may sound good on paper, but in reality, these politicians want to just create enough controversy to remain relevant.

    • I think that is the most frustrating thing, that they strive to say certain things so that they remain relevant or so that they triggered certain reactions, The fact that they have certain leadership positions or authority tends to be the platform on which they ride on. The attitude of “I have said it anyway what will you do about it?” seems to be the driving force. Maybe the big question is do they really want to improve their public speaking skills, do they even care if their speeches are good enough or is it just all about remaining relevant, i think the latter holds more ground

  24. @ Jeff i agree with you.In the case of Rwanda Genocide radio came in handy to deliver messages to the audience effectively. Radio Rwanda incited the massacre of Tutsi by broadcasting that they were planning to attack the Hutus there,hence the need for Hutus to attack first. The Radio told the People…go to work and everyone knew that get your machete and kill the Tutsi…
    The media is the main channel through which the Law on Hate speech in the country is breached.

  25. Wamathu Jane Njeri

    The late Nelson Mandela has beautiful quotes on language. for example he says;”If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart” this clearly shows how important language is as a tool of expression.
    However, Wittgenstein realized that the use of language in public speaking brings dissonance in the listeners or receivers mind.This is so practical in our day today’s life. In our Country, the use of hate speech has been rampant.For example during the 2007-2008 post election violence, most of the leaders and media practitioners are on record using inciting words that led to chaos . Public speakers should therefore undertake courses where they will be taught on ethics in communication.

  26. Hate speech has become a crucial social and political problem in our society that can no longer be ignored.Most politicians tend to use hate speech as an instrument to increase their voter base,hence creating dangerous breeding grounds for hate crimes.Therefore politicians should express restraint when communicating because the impact of political speech is great,owing to the fact that politicians are in a position of authority.
    The media also have a responsibility in fighting against hate speech because they create an environment where influence could be developed.


  27. Interesting post! part of the blog opines that many public speakers especially the politician, are at pain with the meaning, interpretation and understanding of the words they use in public speaking due to the fact that they (politicians) do not read their speech in public and have no time to rehearse their speeches before they get to the podium. My opinion on this, from the perspective of PR, is that any public speaker including the politician and the spokesperson representative an organisation should have basic media training on how to effectively deliver clear, coherent and consistent messaging through mass media . Robert Taylor in his book, Media Interview Techniques, argues that through media training, public speakers learn how to remain in control and get their message across whether dealing with TV, radio or print journalists in a clear manner. But the speaker, he argues, should not deliver no more than three key messages to avoid mixing up the audiences. With this in mind, it can help address issue of meaning, diction and interpration of words used by the public speaker

  28. In my view, new media has played the biggest role in propagating hate speech. Reason being, the truth is not necessarily what is captured. In fact to become viral the more the message remains vague and out of context the more the public gobbles it. Sometimes public speaker are captured out of context completely, it is in the use of the language that the meaning of the speech is totally contorted to bring in a different meaning.

  29. Very informative work!
    I totally agree with Ludwig that words are more powerful tools than weapons. Its the highest time that the Kenyan politicians learn this.Many cases of hate speech from our very own politicians have been reported and this has generated negative incites to the public.I 100% conquer with Ludwig that conducting audience analysis will be of paramount importance because the way i understand a text is very diffrent form how someone else understands it.

  30. “Wittgenstein realized that during his time, public speaking contributed to making so many people unhappy and psychologically disturbed.”Just like it was truth in the 20th century, so it remains in the 21st especially in the Kenyan context.While hate speech has been criminalized in Kenya, the question on serving justice against offenders remains the elephant in the room.The Kenyan justice system is still on a long road to impartiality and fairness. Cases against political leaders on hate crime die out as fast as they were identified.Until the judiciary functions independently from political forces the conversation on hate speech will not easily fizzle out.

  31. “Wittgenstein realized that during his time, public speaking contributed to making so many people unhappy and psychologically disturbed.”Just like it was truth in the 20th century, so it remains in the 21st, especially in the Kenyan context. What’s even more unfortunate is the lack of fairness in the justice system.Cases of hate speech, fizzle out as fast as they were identified. This is majorly caused by the political strings that control the manner in which justice is served to the people.Hate crime can end if the judiciary is independent as it should be.
    I do agree Beth. But the monster in the room here is the rampant corruption. How can the judiciary clean up its filth in corruption?

  32. Any publicity to politicians whether good or bad is publicity. And so through their so called hate speech that will have communicated to the desired audience..Politicians take cognizant that nothing much will be achieved even if they are arraigned before a court of law.Somehow they will find their out..How I wish they could understand the magnitude of their sentiments..The value of keeping peace and the price a country has to pay for their carelessness..Communication is key and our court’s should ensure these peace wreckers are locked in and keys thrown away to bottomless pits

    • Don’t you think the cause of the failure of the administration of justice on hate speech is based on institutional corruption? One Alfred Keter, an MP from Kericho told off the law enforcers manning the highway that MPs are the law and policy makers. They can change the law to suit their interest. Don’t you see that political liberalism in Kenya leads to impunity, law breaking by politicians and reckless speech? What would you suggest the Courts should do if the judges themselves fail to demonstrate full integrity in handling matters of justice? Is the Judiciary independent or it is controlled by politicians? Share more on this.

      • The constitution of Kenya recognizes separation of powers in the three arms of government; the legislature, executive and the judiciary. However in Kenya we have seen a trend in almost all the governments that have governed us ,majority that forms the legislature always seems to be in cohorts with the executive as such if the Judiciary is not autonomous it will always be out muscled as in the case above. K50/89897/16

      • SHEILA MULINYA K50/87092/2016

        To a large extent the failure of administration of justice on hate speech can be blamed on institutional corruption. And also disregard for the rule of law by the said leaders. The legislators have a history of changing laws to suit their interests or to ensure that they are unpunished in the event they are caught on the wrong side of the law. The courts should therefore ensure that they enforce the punishment to all those caught on the wrong side. Whether small fish or large fish. impunity means that there is little regard to the rule of the law. Magistrates of Judges who are caught in the web of intimidation by these politicians should abandon such cases in a show of defiance whenever the powers that be use their authority to intimidate them. They should say no to bribes that are offered to them and avoid being swayed by the powers that be. As it is in Kenya right now with over y few Hatespeech cases going for full hearing, I believe the Judiciary is not independent they are playing puppets to those who know how well to manipulate the scales of Justice.

  33. Another thing that comes to mind from this article is the gap that needs to be filled by Political Communication Specialists also known as the spin doctors who can come to the aid of such politicians. Despite the fact that many of these politicians easily manipulate the system and walk away without being convicted, there is a change in how they want to be perceived by the public especially on the social networks where they are hiring people to handle their accounts just to make them look good. This means many communication scholars have oportunities for consultancy and trainning in public speaking for the politicians. If experts were to take up this role, maybe we would witness a decline in hate speech from the politicians.

  34. It is common knowledge that that our leaders represent who we are as a society. I say this with a lot of respect especially here in Kenya where hate crimes are a common thing. hate speech seem to be on the rise when the country approaches the election period. I have seen and Kenyans at large have been witness to such utterances; a good example is with Gatundu south MP. Moses Kuria who is popular for having a loose tongue. He has been in arraigned in court more times than any politician for inciting masses through negative utterances. He once said opposition leader should be careful because he can one day bite the bullet and he will be buried and the country will move on. Raila Odinga as much as many hate him he is loved with equal measure too and comes from the Luo community which is a historic foe of the Kikuyu community where Moses Kuria Comes from. Kuria also said openly that Luo’s are thieves….this but examples of hate speech and I am stating without fear that Kuria is but a mirror of who we Kenyan’s are because we hide in our tribal cocoons and hate each other on tribal lines. Hence the media cannot be blamed fully for spreading hate crimes. it only highlights what our society is. Masses are not passive listeners or viewers anymore and as a society we are supposed to know right from wrong.
    The judiciary cannot be blamed for lack or poor prosecution of hate crimes because it the work of any court to determine a case in accordance of facts and evidence brought forward. In Kenya justice system does not operate in isolation; it needs the police department to do the investigation, the citizenry to produce the evidence, the prisons to be custodians of the accused or remanded the parliament to make laws e.t.c. Without a complainant bringing a case to court, there cannot be any prosecution. Without witnesses coming forward, the case is baseless, so why blame courts yet when called to be a witness we refuse to appear in court?

  35. It’s unfortunate how politicians (public speakers) seem not to care about their utterances. so many lives have been lost, property destroyed , Children orphaned all because of careless utterances by politicians. The so called leaders seem not to know the magnitude of their utterances. Kenya is not any better. Politicians continue to abuse the freedom of speech, disregarding the law on hate speech. Our courts have proved to be either incapacitated to handle cases on hate speech or deliberately decided to be lenient on those that commit such crimes. The ignorance levels of many Kenyans have contributed to fueling the effects of hate utterances. Kenyans have in several occasions rose against each other killing and maiming in the name of supporting their leaders.
    Former Raila’s aide Miguna Miguna is wrecking havoc in the social media with utterances that are a possible cause of unrest among Kenyans and especially those living in Nairobi. He seems not filter his messages. Being ‘nasty’ seems to be doing the magic for him in trying to outdo his opponents.
    Its about time the media critically thought about the negative effects of hate speech and report responsibly. As they say, “what you don’t know doesn’t hurt” people only react to what they know which mostly comes from the media.

    • The audience have a duty to filter the information passed to them. they should not take everything as gospel truth. At the end of the day the political class will always remain united. As the saying goes “there are no permanent enemies in politics”. The media on the other hand has deviated from its traditional duties of informing and educating. It has become a tool of propaganda and hate speech. Kenya has good rules, but they are just on paper, we need to actualize them, but the question is how?

  36. Alice Gworo i agree with you. No mater how ugly a comment can be from a politician, they always get away . The big question is.. Is law not universal and if we talk of ethics, do we still share the same ethics as human beings regardless of our different classes?
    To a certain extent, the journalists have a big role to play here.Citizens see the world in the eyes of the media. However, today’s journalist has been compromised. The brown envelope syndrome has tarnished the journalists ethics.The audiences have very little trust with the media which has shifted its role from a watchdog to a barking dog. Truth has a been traded for lies and no wonder the elites have been able to control the media. For example when Honorable Kalonzo Musyoka told a journalist in public…”your name betrays you” after some time he is on record saying they resolved the issue. The question again is How?

  37. @assiagency;
    Media has a great influence in both print and broadcast. As such, media shapes public opinions and attitudes about hate crime, its perpetrators, and the law enforcement on such matters.
    Media can prevent hate crimes by not covering such incidences hence suppressing community tensions which may result from such utterances. It can help to promote public understanding of certain issues by reporting from an informed point of view. This helps to alleviate fear and suspicion association with hate crimes. This way, media may suppress perpetrators of hate crimes.

  38. Loreen Nyawira Muriithi

    Many public speakers cannot still understand and inter prate the meaning of public speaking,especially politicians who many times make people unhappy with their utterances ,unprepared and annoying speeches,since they have no time to go through their speeches before presenting them to the public.
    This has therefore made people desperate for meaning of words used.In addition to this we realize that during Wittgenstein period many lost their lives and others were unhappy and disturbed because of public speaking.
    The philosopher tells us that how an audience or individual interprets signals determines then outcome of quality communication. Hence language forms an essential component of culture as communicating beings.

  39. The new media has become a tool of furthering political propaganda and as such has become a source of conflict among the varied supporters. It is important to note that the new media most of the times has been used as a vessel of the ruling power politique who do not embrace change or are subtle when it comes to opinions that do not sell their political agenda.

  40. It is important to note that the new media most of the times has been used as a vessel of the ruling power politique who do not embrace change or are subtle when it comes to opinions that do not sell their political agenda.

  41. Communication scholars have defined communication as transmission of meaningful ideas to an audience with a view of getting a response. In the light of the above article, the politicians communicate to their desired audiences who in this case are their supporters who then interpret the messages and act on them as a form of feedback. It is therefore important for the speakers and in this case politicians to embrace Ludwig’s sentiments on how language used can affect interpretation of messages.

  42. Quite an incisive piece! Most politicians, indeed, get caught up in the predicament of hate crimes, not only in Kenya and Africa but also in the Western world. This is occasioned by the fact that they are not trained communication experts and they are deemed to be so powerful that they can get away with it anyway. This is misuse of power. It sounds quite ridiculous to insult people who elected you into office, doesn’t it? Not being a communication expert is no excuse for hate crimes by politicians. It behoves every responsible citizen, public or private, to exercise restraint and moderation in their utterances.

  43. Let’s take this conversation forward. What the role of the government in regulating hate crimes? The National Integration and Cohesion Commission (NICC) is tasked with ensuring peaceful coexistence among citizens countrywide. Could we consider NICC to have succeeded or failed and with what reasons? Recently, two prominent politicians fork Uasin Gishu County stormed a public institution of higher learning to protest the appointment of the Vice Chancellor who is not a member of the local community. Surprisingly, other politicians came out to support their move. Meanwhile, the chair person of NICC went to the media and “condemned” the acts of these two leaders in “the strongest” terms possible. Was that enough? What then, as a nation and as media professionals ought we to do in averting this menace that is hate crimes?

    • I am persuaded to believe that some constitutional commissions have forgotten their mandate. NCIC was meant to bring sanity among Kenyans and to ensure that hate speech and hate crime do not occur anymore. It is clear that when the chairman became a political appointee other than a professional, the Commission lost its direction. Remember the work Dr. Mzalendo Kibunjia did was splendid and that is the time we had many politicians arraigned in court. National Cohesion and Integration Act, No. 12 of 2008 is very clear on the powers and functions of the commission…but remember the politicians are always politicians. They can circumvent the law to suit their interests. The can use the law as a whip to tame their opposition. It is unfortunate but this is the reality with the Commission today. Hon. Francis Ole Kaparo is a politician from the defunct URP party now JP. Now guess what?

  44. Sophie Adhiambo Otieno

    Our language and customs are fixed not by laws so much as by what Wittgenstein calls “forms of life,” referring to the social contexts in which language is used. In other words, the most fundamental aspect of language is that we learn how to use it in social contexts, which is the reason why we all understand each other. We do not understand each other because of a relationship between language and reality. Wittgenstein gives the example of a student who obeys the rule “add 2” by writing 1004 after 1000 and insisting that this is a correct application of the rule. In such an instance, there is nothing we can say or do to persuade the student otherwise because the misunderstanding lies at a deeper level than explanation can reach. Such examples do not occur in ordinary life not because there is some perfectly unambiguous explanation for “add 2” but because we share forms of life: people, on the whole, simply understand one another, and if this basic understanding were missing, communication would be impossible.

  45. A popular African proverb says, “Gossiping about the enemy can result in a war.” Many leaders talk ill of their opponents to masses during campaigns and public rallies. Some regions in Kenya, for instance, witness fighting each electioneering year. Clans and or communities fight each over land resulting to displacement of families and deaths. This has always been caused by inciting remarks from leaders who do not gauge what their tongues spill. The falsihoods they peddle generate suspicions amongst citizens who previously coexisted peacefully. k50/86624/2016

  46. Sophie Adhiambo Otieno

    Interesting view on the 21th century claim on freedom of speech regardless of the regression of morals, ethics and societal values, it can be easily observed that there is misuse of freedom of speech and the lack of proper actions taken on its abuse. The failure of prosecutions, such as the international case against Joshua Arap Sang, gives those who engage in hate speech for political ends a feeling of impunity. The violence that often accompanies political disputes or elections is testimony to the efficacy of hate propaganda as a tool in the political arsenal of Kenyan politicians. Kenyans expect promises and excellence from their leaders, hence they have made it a habit of criticizing their opponents in the name of competition so that they can be seen to be the most promising candidates, in wanting to be the best I think the best way to go about it is by producing good manifesto that will convince the citizens other than rebuking others in public and the use of bad language.


    Public speaking in recent years has definitely contributed to the rise of hate crimes.

    I argue that, to avoid such scenarios public speakers must have their speeches done by professionals and make sure that they go through the speeches before addressing the public. They should also ensure that they stick to what is written on the speech .You will realize most times these speakers make some careless utterances when they deviate from their speeches.

    If all public speakers are keen on what they present to their audiences the chances of promoting hate crimes will reduce.

    • Thanks Mulei. Indeed it is proper to prepare your speech especially when your role in society is influential. Remember the fate of Gordon Brown and how the system brought him down plus his party. How comes the Kenyan audience seems to be very comfortable with certain kind of speech? All over, many Kenyans are making jokes over those who are dinning on meat while others are salivating. I would also question the sensitivity of the receiver other than the transmitter. Remember that the audience can shape the quality of the speech.

      • It is true,not only politicians but we citizens also play a bigger part in hate speech.We have taken much concentration in posting hate speech in our social media platforms,abusing each other.We too can only hear the negative part of a statement or speech and dwell on and not positive statements

    • I agree Jane.

      The courts are a let down when it comes to handling hate speech. We also lack people to monitor and investigate hate speech and hence taming loose tongues of the politicians has been a major challenge. Giving a politician a bail of half a million is an insult to the society yet there audience cannot afford to bail themselves out.

      Informative speech, is based on facts though less effective on my opinion and like wise to the politicians.

      The persuasive speech, convinces the audience to accept his or her point of view. This is why most of the politicians use this mode. They target what the audience will do with the information therefore they not only provide information but also persuade the audience to take the next step.

      ”ukitaka kupigwa P.O.Box kuenda kisii,endele” Alfred Keter speech during the 32nd graduation in Moi University Eldoret.
      ”Tukiwa wakarimu tumekuwa wajinga? wakuende huko” said Jackson Madagwa.

      Now what implications does this have to the politics of the day and the community?

      All Journalist and media houses should at adhere to Article 33 Freedom of expression.

  48. Very informative blog we have here.
    Our leaders know that they have power to make or destroy the country and the people they serve.They know the statements they make in public have a lot of weight on their followers. this is because the “wanjiku” will do as they state. The public has a lot of trust in these leaders. after all the leaders are their representatives.
    basing my argument on that, leaders should avoid making defamatory speeches as well as innuendo statements in public. Just like the journalists, they should undergo training on communication ethics to ensure they respect the people they serve. After all its only the common man who suffers in case of chaos.

  49. The key element in any communication, be it political or not, whether intended or not, has a significant effect on the thinking, belief, behavior of individual groups and the society they live in. Therefore any political talk from a politician amounts to political communication since the audience is multiple in nature, and is any form of communication whose content and purpose is political regardless of the source. The communication often encompasses the construction, sending, receiving and processing of messages that potentially have a significant direct or indirect impact on politics. The sender or receiver of the message,maybe anyone within the public domain whose message comprehending levels varies. So its important to a sender to understand his/her audience before spewing unwarranted communication. As we are approaching a political campaign season, politically instigated talk/s will dominate airwaves be it radio or television. Media practionars  have a very intergral place in curbing matters hate speech. These will be achieved by  observing our personal conscience before following suit on code of conduct/code of ethics.
    The role of media in a democratic process has always been
    1. Informing the public of whats happening around them
    2. Educating by focusing on the meaning and significance of the facts presented
    3. Providing platform for public and political discourse thus facilitating formation of public opinion and then feeding that opinion back to the public(coordination of public debates)
    4. Publicity-gives publicity to either political parties, political candidates or party policies
    5. Advocacy-people require an outlet for articulation of their policies and programs to the mass.
    These roles are the ones that guide within a Democratic socity and if not observed with care, they are the foundation of hate animosity being published all in the name of prominence, relevance, timeliness, proximity  among other news values.

  50. Hesbon Kerage K50/87651/2016

    In as much as media has to determine what to air or broadcast,public speakers too should know the kind of words they are using.Hate speech mongers should be held accountable by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC). The media people may not be able know the kind of words somebody is going to speak to public for example in live coverage so that they can dismiss him or her.For instance recently when the President Uhuru Kenyatta said that ‘wanakula nyama wengine wakimeza mate’ during the funeral of Mzee Ole Ntimama,none could predict what the president was going to speak.Therefore,since words are very powerful than weapons,our leaders and public speakers should engage communication experts to advice them on how and what to tell the audience and rehearse their speeches.

  51. Having read through this article, my assessment of communication is as follows;
    Communication forms operates through two pathways: direct and indirect.
    The recipient of any information depending on different causative factors will interpret this information based on various causative factors to suit context or need.We eventually result in several interpretations of the same statement.
    More often than not,case in point,for hate speech charges in our country, this has worked in favor of most defendants because interpretation of communication , in my opinion can not be standardized.

  52. Loreen Nyawira Muriithi

    Philosophers purport that use of certain irrational and emotional utterances can tell the intention of the speakers,this led to the killing of an Anglican Bishop Rt.Rev Alexander Arap Sang Muge.
    on the contrary Mr Donald Trump never sees any danger in using certain terms in public while he refers to his rivals as stupid,failures etc.
    Kenyan politicians are not bothered at all about inflammatory and inciting statements that may create some social sensation.
    Communication is interactive between the transmitter and receiver whether intended or unintended it will be interpreted in a subjective way.

    • Loreen thanks so much. You are telling us what all of us have read. What is required is your informed opinion. You have lots of materials for reading. What do you think about the wrong and the right use of the language in mass communication? Add more points and earn marks.

  53. Lynnette Nasirumbi

    Quite an interesting read indeed. I believe that unless a person has thought out and planned his talk and knows what he is going to say,he is like the blind leading the blind. That is why you find most of the politicians using words with impunity for lack of preparedness. They are driven with emotions and whatever comes to mind while addressing their audience. I believe that the media should give a blackout to the kind of utterances that would stir mayhem in the nation. The media does have a major role to play in the dissemination of information to the masses.

    The speaker ought to be self-conscious, ought to feel repentant,ought to be ashamed of his negligence. Its never the case in most settings where many claim to have been misquoted. If the speakers are able to observe self control of their emotions and being conscious of their utterances then we would be in a better place. I believe that it is possible to have sober speakers because personal interaction with some of the language breakers reveals a different picture. They are down to earth,humble even soft speakers away from the mics. They should transfer this into their public speeches by practicing early preparedness of their speeches.

  54. The article by Eric Barendt ‘Towards a European Media Law’ can be likened to the Kenyan situation on the passing of the media bill by Kenya’s national assembly in 2014. The debate revolved around the questions of press freedom and how media would be affected by the signing of the bill in the delivery of its watchdog and surveillance role. To this end, therefore a pertinent question arises on whether the media will be able to deliver as the fourth estate. As a developing country, infringing on press freedom may have a negative impact on the development of democracy and good governance in the long run.

    • Saying that the media is the fourth force among the state forces means that its influence on the people and how they disseminate information is so powerful that cannot be wished away. On the other hand media fights for their independence while the government shall always find how to tame them by passing draconian laws. The whole process is very combative and usually it is the media to win. Remember that in some countries there are state owned media. Such states are performing poorly because the media shall exclusively transmit what the state is comfortable with. In Kenya, media freedom is much better than Ethiopia or Cameroon. Today we have Journalists without Borders…social media which cannot be owned fully by the state. Thanks to the new media. Governments to some point must bow down to the media. At the same time the media must also prove they are not puppets or mouth piece of the elite and the powerful. Thanks so much Muthoni for this post.

  55. I agree with Ludwig that there is indeed a big problem and negligence of language. Most of our leaders don’t understand the impact or effect of the words they use in public speaking.
    The nature, magnitude and consequences of hate speech and inciting in Kenya are pretty evident. They usually emerge at times of political conflict or tension and they build-up to and during election campaigns. Those accused or charged of hate speech are rarely successfully prosecuted. Cases either drag on without result or are dropped – often for political reasons.
    Successful publicists become valuable tools for political leaders and for their parties. The failure of prosecuting the perpetrators gives those who participate in hate speech for political ends a feeling of impunity. The violence that often accompanies political arguments or elections is evidence to the effectiveness of hate propaganda as a tool in the political arsenal of Kenyan politicians.


  56. I agree with Ludwig that there is indeed a big problem and negligence of language. Most of our leaders don’t understand the impact or effect of the words they use in public speaking.
    The nature, magnitude and consequences of hate speech and inciting in Kenya are pretty evident. They usually emerge at times of political conflict or tension and they build-up to and during election campaigns. Those accused or charged of hate speech are rarely successfully prosecuted. Cases either are dropped or drag on without result every so often for political reasons.
    In Kenya, politicians control everything. Our judiciary though independent constitutionally it has failed in its judicial functions due to political interference and it is no longer independent. So long as there is political influence in terms of appointments for jobs in the judiciary, corruption will carry the day. There shall be no integrity.


  57. Public speakers should use language that people find accurate, understandable and acceptable. Use of bad language results in tangible harm.
    Ignorance and indifference fosters hate speech and this reflects to a fundamental intolerance to be different ethnically, religiously and even politically. The language used by public speakers especially politicians affects people’s lives negatively as evident in the article. Clearly , the choice of the message and channel by public speakers whether right or wrong determines the communication success.

    • This is prescriptive ethics. Politicians and other public speakers need code of conduct. However, they know the type of audiences they address. Kenyan public generally entertain certain kind of speech. It is necessary to enlighten the public and build capacity of the electorates. Remember that civic education is a requirement in the constitution but politicians will hardly allow the civil society to educate the masses. They would rather restrict the NGOs and frustrate them in order to keep the masses ignorant and gullible. Remember that the Public Benefit Organizations Act (PBO) has never been commenced even if the President signed it into law. Many NGOs flee Kenya as the civil society is systematically weakened. Why? Because the civil society shall tell the people what leaders would not like them to know. That is all about it.

  58. In the 20th Century a philosopher Wittgenstein Ludwig emphasized the importance of analyzing language. He was in the view that leaders should go through their speeches before they disseminate them to the public. He emphasized that politicians should not use lies to win elections as this was unethical and would result to make some people unhappy. In view of the 21st Century, I believe we are living in a social responsibility society whereby we all have a role to play, the media ought to follow its ethical guidelines by censoring hate speech messages and informing the public truthfully. The politicians too need not to spread hate speech when delivering their messages especially like now when the elections are approaching. The 2007/2008 Post election violence in Kenya was to a larger extent perpetrated by hate speech by some politicians, which led to some of them to be indicted at the International Criminal Court in Netherlands. I think the National Cohesion and Integration Commission should be empowered more in carrying out its mandate. The Courts also ought to punish those politicians engaged in Hate speech cases. The Media Council of Kenya also need to ensure that the media houses adhere to their professional code of conducts.

  59. A very interesting perspective on public speaking. Leaders have redefined meaning and interpretation of words they use while addressing the masses. Whereas most would understand ‘weka tyre’ to mean ‘burn them’, a leader will argue out that he was talking about putting tyres on a car and stick to that. Many public forums, especially political forums, are used by political leaders to create support through engaging in the most controversial topics of the time. Someone once argued that, once you are infront of masses, you have no control of what comes out of your mouth. This has been witnessed in places where people are naturally expected to adhere to the rule of self-regulation (like churches and funerals), but that hasn’t been the case. Whereas it advisable to prepare and rehearse a speech (like done by most global leaders like President Obama), local leaders have opted to read the mood of the crowd they are about to address, and go right ahead to saying whatever comes to their mind. At the end of the day, it irritates some of the people been addressed, while some of the sycophants will cheer (regardless of how inappropriate the speech was). But for the leader, he/ she has increased his prominence, because he held the attention of the crowd. A word can define or break an individual. But when is a word considered hate speech? When does a phrase get a new meaning? Until that time when both the audience and the sender of the message will attach one meaning to something, people will continue to be either misuse public speaking or be misunderstood or worse still abuse public forums and claim to be misunderstood.

    Scolastica Kunyiha

  60. A very informative text.
    I concur with Wittgenstein that public speaking contributes to people being unhappy and psychologically disturbed especially in relation to his time. This also occurs in the present time in Kenya where every utterance by a politicians has to be questioned in depth. The statement of some eating meat while others are swallowing saliva is a question that is on every one’s tongue and mind. some second that, while others are so angered. But I argue that if Kenyans are still inclined on tribals lines then there is never a time that language use by the politicians will be inclusive to each and every Kenyans. The uncensored language and carefree attitude will just be in the politicians.

    Since the media plays a key role in getting this information every Kenya by all means that is, why not use the same media to stop the spread of malicious information? Why not get an alternative media just as Georgely says in his book that community media has a key role in strengthening social cohesion and in promoting active citizenship.

    According to me this alternative media should be created .

  61. Mwalimu, I also feel like we lack the political good will to end hate speech in Kenya. At one point a politician from Mombasa during a meeting attended by Deputy President William Ruto at Pwani University, the Mombasa politician said that Jubilee will win the 2017 polls through fair and foul means including stealing. In an ideal society the DP ought to have warned that politician not to use such inflammatory statement as they arouse emotions among the public. But the DP was quiet to comment on that.

    • Rather we lack law enforcement good will. Kenyans citizens still treat their political leaders as small gods. This should not be the case since we must adhere to the rule of law; constitutionalism and human rights but not politicians. It is in Kenya many electorates still believe that the politician is the Prince and the Prince shall save them from their socio-economic problems. This is Machiavellian belief that – you better keep your people poor in order to rule them. Doing so will make them see you as their saviour and keep on believing that without you, they are all dead. This is why politicians sometimes assume that they are small gods for the electorates who almost adore them. This shall change through educating the masses and enabling them understand the tricks of politicians. Very smart comment Rajan.

      • Whether the masses are educated or not, it is still going to be an uphill task for politicians to uphold the rule of law. To bring this debate closer home, look at the cases of Governors versus MCAs. No matter how hard the later tries to impeach the governors, governors will always get protection from some quarters. In my opinion this is a supremacy battle, as the senators will always want to remind the MCAs that they, the senators are incharge. So it is one political class frustrating the other.

  62. Although in agreement with you on the audience’s responsibility, the media can’t afford to be passive purveyors of unqualified and not substantiated and often inciting content. As public watchdogs they have a moral and ethical duty to protect and promote what is of public interest. The words and statements they process for publication and broadcast should, indeed, enhance public good. They should play role of activists by demanding accountability from leaders and speakers whenever they make irresponsible statements, like it happened to Gordon Brown. The media should demand that leaders whose utterances produce undesired effects own up and take full responsibility for the same. This kind of position is line with the Medium theory , which advances the argument that the media affects how we think and respond to our environment. In this manner media leaders would be more cautious on the choice of words they utter and ultimately promote good culture as propagated by Wittgenstein in his writing.

  63. The judiciary is controlled by politicians in Kenya, that is why there is always lack of proper punitive measures taken on politicians who engage in hate speech. The NCIC also is intertwined with politics on the side due to certain people appointed into the commission which means the trend will still go on. I believe that good communication will be offered when people start demanding it since politicians always get away with it each time, either by paying up fines or serving minimal jail time. People demanding good responsible speeches can only be achieved through one means in Kenya. This can only be influenced by the media in Kenya if it remains unbiased in its endeavors to stop and condemn hate speech.

  64. The wrong and right use of language in communication to the masses can have an avalanche of ramifications.However the wrong use always takes the day or is it the translation of the language use that is translated either in a wrong or right way?
    It is strange how one cant really predict what a person they have known for quite a while will behave once they are on a podium and about to address the Masses.A poised man can open his mouth and utterly shock you once he opens his mouth.A Kenyan Politician such as President Uhuru Kenyatta during a speech he gave at The late William Ole Ntimamas burial mass elicited quite a number of emotions throughout the Country,Elders had requested all politicians to kindly leave out Politics just for that one day,but what happened immediately after the President was done with condoling the family?he had to throw in that “sisi twala nyama wengine wakimeza mate”comment which did not go down well with opposition supporters and seemed to rub more salt into wounds that have never healed seeing that the opposition is still of the opinion that the election they had won was stolen from them.This is just one example of the wrong use of language.The recent ban of Miraa importation from Kenya to Somalia was attributed to comments made by Meru Governor Peter Munya when he visited Hargeisa in July 2016 led to political pressure.Governor Munya reportedly linked the territorial integrity of the Country to the Miraa trade.Most people speak on impulse,rarely do they take time to think of the weight of their words or even the aftermath as Ludwig Josef would argue that it is important to weight and predict outcomes before uttering words.Top on everyone’s mind is to get to the message out there as it is without reading too much into it.

  65. Our Courts, politicians, NCIC, the Media, Academia, Police, DPP and the general public if all of them play their role well, I believe hate speech can be tamed.

    Our Constitution is one of the most progressive one in the world and hence its implementation is vital as its outlines the limits of freedom of speech and what tantamount to hate speech. Some of the hate speech cases are dismissed in courts due to lack of evidence, thus the prosecution needs to do a better job.

    However, some quotas believe the Judiciary is corrupt that is why hate speech cases takes long to be concluded and as of now no politician has ever been jailed. Let us hope the new Chief Justice will give directions that Hate speech cases will be dealt firmly, decisively and fast tracked.

  66. Certainly, communication is an interaction between the transmitter and the receiver. All factors kept constant, I believe, the media should simply relay what is said as it is said. The question of whose speech caused what crime need not arise because the speaker does not have control over the interpretation of his/her statements by the intended or unintended audience. A politician could mean well in his statement but the interpretation could be wrong! When a politician makes an inflammatory remark, this should not be reason enough to cause anyone to commit crime. People ought to learn to control themselves. Nonetheless, I must admit that politicians have a lot of influence on the masses that follow them, as well as on media and so must weigh every word they say. We expect every leader/politician to exercise ethics anyway. How unethical politicians find their way to positions of influence only points at the corrupt nature of our society, the influence of material gain and the moral decay. In my view, this whole issue should be dealt with right from individual moral level.

  67. The new media has contributed to the rise in hate speech cases, such that, when a politician makes a hate speech comment, within a fraction of a second it is already on the internet and gone viral. This is due to the fact that everyone is now a reporter. It takes a phone only for one to record and post such clips on the internet.

    We need stringent laws in this country that would guide the use of new media in an ethical manner. I am a true believer of freedom of speech, however freedom of speech can and should never be absolute. Thus, all of us should know our freedoms and limits in communication so as to avoid falling victims of hate speech. As the swahili proverb, (Heri kujikwa kidole kuliko ulimi). Better to stumble with toe than tongue.

  68. Ngugi wa Thiongo in his book decolonizing the mind postulated that language is a carrier of culture as such Ngugi further expounded on Frantz Fanon’s thinking who explored the violent ramifications of colonialism on the colonized psyches “and the colonized individual was stunted by a deeply implanted sense of degradation and inferiority” Bad language like” nigga” was used to degrade the blacks or the colonized, it made them feel like lesser beings and thus the culture of white supremacy reigned strong. Ngugi maintain that “ it’s the empowerment of the lower classes alone that will bring about the renaissance of the African culture and ultimately uplift African nations from neocolonialism conditions and oppression” Today the lower class is represented mostly by the urban slum dwellers and to some extent the rural uneducated older generation, the politician use the poverty and conservatism in the two groups respectively to push ideals like ethnicity and tribalism through bad language .Over the years of mastery of the use of bad language which they learn from their predecessors , politicians are getting better at this passed down vice. Today they have created various notable trends like tyranny of numbers. The lower class in Kenya is recolonized by capitalist’s ideology and until and unless they rise above this language will be used as a tool to their disadvantage. K50/89897/16

  69. in the Kenyan contest what ,in my opinion constitutes as hate speech is when leaders use symbolic language to mean something that is in most cases , abusive , Wittgenstein, understood how the use of symbols can present a problem in communication. so what are the conditions for accurate symbolism, what relationship must one fact or one statement have in order to be understood as a symbol for another. when one says “sisi tunakula nyama nyini mwamaga mate “for example , it goes against what Wittgenstein defines as an ideal language , since it has more than one meaning and probably the reason why such a statement cannot be described as hate speech in court since one can argue on many fronts

  70. Sophie Adhiambo Otieno

    I do argue too that the media,the government and corruption among our leader do promote to a great deal public hate speech.If you haven’t notices most news aired and written in our newspaper front are always bad news,

    I do think before publication of any article or airing of news the media should be able to anticipate the possible dilemma of any news article and discuss all borderlines case prior to publication.The government and our leaders should also seek to reinforce the consequences of dealing with such cases so that many can be aware of so.

    For instance Moses Kuria hate speech case presented to the NCIC on alleged calling for assassination of cord leader Raila Odinga ,that was a clear example of hate speech in Kenya by our leaders ,NCIC chairman Ole Kaparo clearly indicated they are trying there best in handling such case but the only hindrance is the court which fails to listen hence the individuals not receiving the consequences they deserve.

  71. In many instances the political class has been adjudged responsible for careless speech that create such acrimonious outcomes in the society. due to use of undesirable language in their communiqué to their audience. the media has also been culpable in their inability to responsibly report on such speeches that are deemed inflammatory, they ought to moderate that which it disseminates to its mass viewers or audience. Public speaking has been a way of influencing opinion or outcomes, their ought to be some responsibility in its usage.K50/88280/2016

  72. Simon Kigamba Mungai

    Kenya needs a good dictator. That’s a paradox. However, the law seems not to catch the big fish in the sea of hate speech. Therefore, I argue that we need a leader who will ignore the tedious processes in the courts of law if a suspect is recorded on live broadcast spreading the venom of hate speech, he/she should be dealt with there and then. After the six politicians were locked up in Pangani and Muthaiga police stations for three days, it appears they have been careful with their words. I still think that the cases should have been completed and the suspects denied bails so that it sticks in their mind that Kenya is bigger than the the six. In my view, a good dictator would deal with them firmly for the betterment of the majority who need peace.


    • Mr Kigamba, there is no good dictator, if you are a dictator automatically you are bad. as it means you do things your way and most times force or intimidation is used. Again being a leader who has sworn to protect the constitution and the rule of law you cannot be the same person who is violating the same. It is a delicate balance and more so for political leaders as most of the time they have to say what is not right just to maintain their relevance in their positions.

  73. “it is not what you say, it is the way you say it, and the context in which you said it. Words are how they are used.” words are just but empty until we apply human emotions and feelings into them. It is incumbent upon the leaders to know what is desirable and what is just that when they seek to influence, it should be in a manner that applies respect to others who are deemed different and convincingly inspired positive thought about how we relate. Some of this cannot be legislated upon but as part of the code of conduct or ethics in some quarters, it should be noted and exercised. those that are deemed to break from this train of thought should be shunned and muzzled. truth should be told in a way that it breeds understanding and forgiveness but not that which creates civil strife.K50/88280/16

  74. With the rise of the new media, certainly hate speech has not only increased but it is widespread. This is because content is not edited and it is real time. As everyone is a ‘journalist’ in their small world where ethics and laws do not apply. Taming this media is next to impossible as it is not in one jurisdiction.

    The mainstream media on the other hand plays a key role when it comes to hate crime. When reporting, some media house takes sides. The vernacular stations have time and again been seen to defend or champion ‘their on’. They give airtime even when they know the message being passed may offend part of the audience.

    In the Kenyan context, politicians do not take time to write speeches leave alone rehearse them. They use wrong forums to highlight sensitive issues or to settle political scores in funerals and fund raising arenas. They use offending gestures, poses and variation of voice tone to pass messages. Politicians on most occasions have used the divide and rule principle, since they know when people are united they cannot be easily manipulated.

    Constitutional bodies such as NCIC that are mandated to check on insensitive utterances and behaviour, are doing very little to tame politicians and public speakers. The commissioners are either compromised or afraid to offend their masters. The judiciary is no better, cases are delayed, very lenient judgments are given or cases thrown out for lack of evidence.

    Recently in the USA there were claims on new media that Meliania Trump’s had plagiarised Michelle Obama’s speech. In my opinion this means that the professionals hired to write such speeches are ignorant of the law or they are not up-to-the task. This generated an ending debate on social media as plagiarism is an ethical issue punishable by law.

    The audience have a duty to filter and choose what to do with messages given, because most of the time they are the one who suffer most.

  75. Emphasising the limits of meaningful language Wittgeinstein says “That whereof we cannot speak, thereof we must remain silent”. Basically if we have nothing to say it would do better if we kept quiet. I wish this would be the case with some members of the political elite whom perhaps one would diagnose with verbal diarrhoea. Many of our leaders don’t weigh their statements before making utterances and most often their followers pick up from them and implement the utterances in terms of burning properties,maiming and even causing bodily injuries to the perceived followers of the opposing group. That is when the question of the role of media comes in. I conquer Mr Mokaya’s post on September 26, 2016 that media should help bar what is inappropriate from reaching the masses by simply censoring it. If we look back at the utterances of the ODM Nairobi Chair Mr Aladwa when he publicly stated that the former premier Mr Odinga must get to the ‘house on the hill’ even if it meant somebody shedding blood, in deed we can see how reckless speech might fuel political enmity within the country. Thus Wittgeinstein advises that Writers and communicators should think about the audience that they are speaking to and to craft their communiques accordingly to avoid miscommunicating.

  76. Hesbon Kerage K50/87651/10

    What Ludwig Josef said about politicians that they make unethical public utterances that leaves their audience in the wilderness of ideas is true.This has caused chaos amongst us,socially and physically.Therefore, these politicians need to prepare adequately,rehearse before getting to the podium and use proper language in public speaking to avoid violence and hatred. I argue that only those that have prepared enough should be given chance to speak to people in public forums.Media too should observe code and ethics when reporting such scenario where you find hate speech is being repeated now and then.This may lead to proper use of language.

  77. very good reading …Public speaking especially by politicians has been sometimes wrongly been used to tactically incite and divide communities living together peacefully for the politicians to gain some milage. But also to qualify as hate speech i believe we need to know the level of a speaker’s influence, the grievances or fears of the audience, whether or not the speech act is understood as a call to violence, the social and historical context, and the way in which the speech is disseminated.Most of the time the counter argument by this politicians will be that they were misquoted. Also another factor that makes this vice thrive among many speakers particularly politicians is because no serious case has ever been concluded and someone punished for hate speech which makes them have a field day.With elections around the corner more of this will be experienced.
    The constitution is clear on what hate speech constitutes yet justice, more often than not, falls short of public expectations. The dominant public perception is that there is a brand of justice for the well to do and politically connected, and a different one for those not similarly endowed. Nothing illustrates this more than the speedy prosecution and conviction of blogger Allan Wadi for misusing social media. Politicians like Chirau Mwakwere, Moses Kuria and Ferdinand Waititu get a soft landing compared to others like Allan Wadi who end up experiencing the full brunt of the law.
    Abdul K50/87305/2016

  78. Simon Mwangi Muita

    African revered writers and publishers such as Ngugi wa Thiongo have time and again advocated for the use of first language, commonly referred to as mother tongue, when studying and even writing. From where such scholars sit language promotes culture and with it a sense of identity. What they fail to point out is the role and impact of the channels of communication used to disseminate the contents (message) of the language. This is where the media comes in. It is a powerful tool of communication that has had profound effect on the receivers of messages. Politicians are bearers of messages which may augur well or not with their perceived audiences. What many communicators fail to understand is that the receivers of messages are not passive; they have their own opinions about specific subjects, messages, channels and senders. The response to what is communicated necessarily boils down to whether or not some form of cognitive dissonance is created.

    Simon Mwangi Muita

    • Mr. Mwangi, in Kenya, the constitution promotes cultural heritages of the Kenyan people and among them, the vernacular languages is encouraged. However, the same book of law has provided for English and Kiswahili as national and official languages. Many Kenyans still prefer using their own vernacular while serving at public offices. It is not encouraged to use a vernacular language in any public office but this is done anyway. Kenya has no proper language policy. Tanzania succeeded very well to break-away with ethnic divides and Kiswahili was made the official and national language. You are right politicians sometimes prefer using their vernacular to defame and speak ill about others. Another sad part is the FM radio stations. As much as people like them for easy communication they have also been exploited to spread hate speech. In Kenya, the Post Elections Violence, exploited the weakness in the language policies to spread hatred. What is your take on Prof. Ngugi’s theory and the danger such vernaculars pose to a diverse society such as Kenya? Share!

  79. There is an urgent need for CULTURE CHANGE in our society, the electorates tends to be so excited when politicians makes hate speech remarks eg Moses Kuria allegedly called for the assassination of Cord leader Raila Odinga and the Wananchi were so happy. There is also need for CIVIC EDUCATION among the POLITICIANS and ELECTORATES on the dangers of hate speech comments.The Machiavellian belief by the politicians in using cunning and duplicity in their conduct to the voters MUST stop. I think NCIC in Kenya or even IEBC must ban those politicians who propagate hate speech from participating in elections.

    • RANKINGS: – At the moment the ranking shows that Mr. Rajan is doing great with communication skills. His comments provoke more questions and comments. Congratulations! I encourage other participants to put stories that are controversial and debatable in this platform.

  80. Public appointments in Kenya are normally not done on merit but politically, its like a rewarding scheme for friends for instance NCIC Chair is a URP fellow, that means he already has some bias towards some people thus we cant expect anything good from him.

    • Wow! I do agree with you. Political goodies is a trend in the Kenyan politics. The winners must find vacancies or even create them in order to make them fulfill their promise to those who perhaps supported their campaign. Politics has also business aspect and that is, how to reward your supporters once you win the office. Is this not political corruption? Is political corruption deontologically an end in itself or a means to an end. Explain! Has Hon. Ruto acted ethically to offer his big supporter such an office? Is the appointment of Ole Kaparo in line with an end justifies the means or the means justify the end? Discuss this a little bit more. It is interesting.

  81. Ethinicity, tribalism will also kill us. Whenever a politician from a particular tribe is arrested of hate speech crime, wananchi from that particular tribe starts complaining ohhh our tribe is being targetted. This MUST stop. Let everyone respect the RULE OF LAW. The Law is suppose to protect us and also we have obligations towards the law. Its a two way. Man made laws so as we are all guided by it. And we gave that power to executive, parliament, judiciary and the constitutional offices to exercise it on our behalf because power is derived from the people…so let let everyone do their work in accordance with our constitution and laws.

    • Indeed Mr. Rajan. You are right on tribal politics. Who started all this in Kenya? The late Mwalimu Nyerere, the then President of Tanzania laughed at Kenya referring to it with names and said, Tribal politics is the death bed of a nation. This is the time Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and other African nationalists were loud on the “Nation Building”. During the era of President Moi, ethnicity and tribe politics became a reality. President Mwai Kibaki made tribal politics a reality and never spoke of Nation Building. President Uhuru finds himself in already well founded tribal politics and now Kenya is suffering from the tribal cancer. By and large, the duty of the Head of State is to unite the nation. When a Bishop said this during his prayers at the funeral of the late Hon. Ole Ntimama, the President did not see the sense in “Nation Building” and rebuked the Bishop in Public. Accoring to you Mr. Rajan, do you think our political leaders see tribe politics as a liability to the nation or an asset? Many politicians have always used their tribes to back them up. Is this ethically the right thing to do in a multi-ethnic set up? Where is the nation building slogan anyway? Who should care about it? Make some practical suggestions.

  82. Aurelia Ochieng -k50/86952/2016

    so much has been said about hate crime in Kenya in recent years. NIC acting under the penal code CAP 63 section 96, only serves as an investigating body and leaves the court with the responsibility of prosecuting the cases. it has since been difficult to bring hate speech cases to proper judicial conclusions. I think the following ought to be done.
    1) our court systems should be trained to interpret and measure the veracity of electronic media evidence through forensic investigation.
    this will prepare our court systems to be fully equipped to handle this forensic evidences from specialist. This in my opinion, will help minimize instances where most of hate speech cases are thrown out of court due to “lack of sufficient evidence.”
    2)The government should enact stringent laws to apply on hate crimes. Let the government regulate social media and enact lawsbto deal with hate crimes.
    unlike the developed countries, Kenyan courts are finding it difficult to pinpoint a legislation to objectively rely in while dealing with such charges and as so, we are forced to borrow, to bring hate suspects to criminal justice. This has not been easy I say. with this, our courts again will have the power and capacity to adjudicate hate crimes allegations especially to social media.
    3)Media persons should be regulated. this will curb this habit of people just reporting and writing whatever they feel like it and publishing them online. Ensure that they stick to their duties,obligations and principles as required. The government should ensure that non professional journalists and bloggers who aren’t trained in professional ethics don’t get a chance to publish their work.
    4)Civic education to the masses. This should be a non-stop process to remind the public t they have to say no to hate speech. That they should sieve what ever messages they get both from the media and the politicians and not take whatever they are told as gospel truth.

  83. While hate speech is a crime with potential dire consequences to peaceful coexistence between different communities, it is very difficult to fight it. Hate speech works for the benefit of the politicians, they use it to propagate their own political agenda and propaganda as well as fighting their opponents. Apparently this works for them and is the reason why politicians remain very adamant to legislate laws that criminalize hate speech and punish the perpetrators of hate speech.

    For instance the Gatundu MP, One Mr. Moses Kuria has been in the news time and again for the same reason – hate speech. In July 2015 in a public rally in Gatundu, the MP asked the youths in that area to use their machetes and chop anyone opposed to the NYS developments. While such statements should be condemned in the highest terms possible, and the perpetrator charged in a court of law, no action has been taken against him to date, no even the President of Kenya who hails from Gatundu came out to condemn the MP’s reckless remarks.

    In his works, Wittgenstein advocates for ethics and meaning of words and language; this would be very difficult to achieve with the current ‘crop’ of politicians today who (most of them) are mostly concerned with the immediate (charged crowds) and long term consequences (fame and publicity) of their utterances. My argument is that until we have such a time when our politicians will appreciate ethics and meanings of words and language in their public speeches, the fight against hate speech remains an uphill task.


    • Hon. Moses Kuria is the MP of Gatundu South where the President comes from. Has the President rebuked his hate speeches in public? And why? According to you why is the President so quiet on such statements inciting people from a man of his own political bloc?

  84. Am having issues replying on where you commented. Anyway, Our Political leaders do not like seeing the country united. We have about 42 tribes in Kenya, but if you look closely in the Uhuruto administration you will notice that the two tribes, Kikuyu and Kalenjin have taken a bigger share of the public appointments. The 2010 Constitution advocates for an all inclusive government of all tribes. Uhuruto government does not represent the face of Kenya. If you even look closely in their campaign slogan, the jubilee one, you will see Uhuru and Ruto holding hands together, the phrase ‘Tuko Pamoja’ meaning we are together is like its just the two of them, translating to their two tribes only. What about the other 40 tribes? The President is suppose to be a symbol of national unity in the country and to do that all tribes must be represented in his Government. Most of those appointed to public offices are either families of the first family, friends, campaigners, financers, election losers from Jubilee and many more. Nothing is done on merit, no wonder they underperform.

    • Yes Zakheem. The notion of divisive politics has for a way worked for local politicians. They divide and rule. They believe in saying nasty things against those they are campaigning against. And it is strange that they will even pay people to ensure that they heckle or ululate when they are saying negativity about their proponents. Such politicians d not have time to prepare speeches. This eventually leads to hate speech as the opposite camps end up engaging in shouting matches.

  85. Simon Kigamba Mungai

    Media concentration rules that were suggested by Michael Powell’s commission in 2003, aroused heated debate among politicians in US. They opposed vehemently the idea of free market. They knew that being shareholders of media conglomerate they could shape the public opinion which is a platform to rise to power. In Kenya, politicians scramble for media houses shares and others start their own media companies in order to set their agenda. When a politician owns a large chunk of shares of a particular media company, it is difficult for the reporter to write objectively for that media. Hate crime therefore can pass through the gatekeepers for fear of offending the owner of the knife that subdivides the cake that all employees of that media house share every end of the month.

    • In the ancient Greece, decisions were made in an agora, public squares in the cities. This is no longer the case, decisions are made in the boardroom…far from the sight of the public. Mr. Kigamba, according to you, how should we understand public participation provision in our constitution? Are the politicians involving the public enough while making decisions? How do the media involve the public while reporting certain stories? Kindly share on this please. It is very interesting…remember the violence that took place in Kisumu at the end of the week. Crowds of youth went in rampage to burn houses of county leaders who are perceived to be corrupt and those who have enforced the disappearance of the MCA. Is this public participation according to you or it is just lawlessness? Discuss.

      • Aurelia Ochieng -k50/86952/2016

        public participation or involvement with the politicians is a tricky situation. I remember sometimes back, Hon. Kidero called upon the residents of Nairobi for a public meeting to discuss on how to run Nairobi county. less than a hundred people turned up. Mwalimu you also mentioned about thinkers attracting thinkers,..compare this with a rally that Mr. Kabogo hold and talks insightfully.. A mammoth of people is usually present to listen and cheer them on.
        This people have analyzed their target audience and they know what they want and what sells to such crowds.
        As for media to engage public participation. This they have tried and in my own view it is not working.look at it this way.every media station has a feedback avenue,we tweet our thoughts,after the end of the show,they read two or three messages then the show is over.I am yet to see where or when the publics thoughts have been taken seriously.

        • Aurelia, remember that even Adolf Hitler had a mammoth of people cheering him up in his Nazi government even if most of them were philosophers, doctors, journalists, lawyers and religious leaders. Most of them were aware of his criminal bad intention to exterminate humanity, yet they went ahead to support him. We stand to understand that people do not think in the same wavelength, and some support evil. The society is not a society of people who think in the same line. It would be a utopia to expect an ideal society – what St. Augustine referred to as the City of God and the City of Man. We are in the city of man. Your comment has lots of points and I would ask you to continue with this conversation. It is very informative. What is the core problem in this? What would you suggest that can transform the society as an expert of communication skills?

  86. Political corruption is an end in itself, because these politicians vie for elective posts in the hope that they win and loot the public in the end. Francis Ole Kaparo was Chair URP and might have used his money also in running the party so as expecting a reward in the end. This scenario can also be the end justifies the means. So Ruto did not act ethically because there are other qualified Kenyans who are politically neutral and could do a better job at NCIC than Kaparo. Just as Machiavelli says that power is an end in itself. Another reference is Davis Chirchir who was TNA/Jubilee campaign manager, then Uhuru appointed him as the Energy CS, after sometimes he was found with graft issues. This means that these political appointees have issues, they might have spent alot of money during campaigns that is why when they come to power, they are normally busy looting the public because they have to recover what they used during elections.

    • In rhetorics politicians learn how to be persuasive and how to align people to their own personality. If we think sensibly, politicians are good at making utterances that sound persuasive to their believers. Plato in his book speaks of philosopher King. Politicians must be thinkers. But they can only be thinkers when their electorates are thinkers. Unfortunately most of the Kenyan electorates are not thinkers but those who are carried away by events or doxa. Kenyans are still dogmatic but not radical thinkers. How do we expect them to elect one who is a thinker? Rajan, we are faced with a big problem. How best can we reform the society? How can people be educated through Media so that they can think and lessen emotions?

  87. The Constitution of Kenya, 27. Equality and freedom from discrimination, clause 4, and I quote part of it, The State shall not discriminate directly or indirectly against any person on any ground of ethnic or social origin, however, the current regime does discriminate. That means they contravene the Katiba. And we know the Constitution is SUPREME. If the protectors of the Constitution do not protect the same Constitution that they swore to protect, what of the Wanjiku? I believe all Kenyans need to wake up and fight for their rights.We all have a DUTY.

  88. Simon Kigamba Mungai

    In my view, the public is not at all involved in decision making by the politicians unless it is in their favor. For instance the slogans “tuko pamoja” and “tuko tayari” I.e we are together and we are ready, are only meant to create an illusion that the public is involved in whatever politicians are saying. The community feels left out and the only way to react is to punish the suspects using ‘mob justice’ like the violence witnessed in Kisumu. The common saying out there is that , “We elected our leader who promised to be with us all the time, but he went to Nairobi only to come back when election is near to seek our votes”. Representing people is not a technical appearance affair while dishing handouts. It is listening to the people who elected you and working out with them on the best ways to tackle challenges facing them. The media on the other hand, once in a while involves the public by getting an opinion here and there. However, because of the newsroom pressure to deliver the story on time, very little is reported about public participation. More so, even in interviews on live broadcast, rarely do the common mwananchi is invited to the show. The same politicians are allocated prime time to enhance their agenda. Who will help Wanjiku?

    • One Bob Marley sang saying…”yes, you can fool the people, but you cannot fool them all the time”. Do Kenyans allow themselves to be fooled all the time? When can we draw a line between “Big Lies” and the Truth? “Africa stand up for your rights…”. Even Mr. Marley in his popular reggae song had a vision… He said, “Africa Unite!” It seems such songs are only meant to entertain our ears then we keep on doing the same wrong things. According to you, how best should the Kenyans utilize Media information to make change happen? Where is the problem…? It does not mean that Kenyans do not enjoy Reggae Music. Yes they do but they still keep on accepting Big Lies.

  89. Kenya, is at a point in history where a lot of importance is attached to money and political power to the extent that if you get the two (the means by which you get them doesn’t matter) then you can say whatever you will and nothing much happens to you.
    In ‘The Republic’ Plato holds that …philosophers must become Kings or those who are now called kings must philosophize…This is what lacks in our country Kenya. Honestly, there are people in this country who would do better in leadership positions but because they can’t appeal to the ‘vegetative’ nature of the voters by bribing them or worse still lying to them (empty promises) When such leaders come into force, they ought to embark on a programmer of enlightening the public on the need to to what is right, the need to be ethical even in choosing leaders.

    • I do agree with you Beddah. Kenya seems to copy America on this. Even in the so called United States of America, money for campaign matters a lot. If you are poor forget about presidency. Now you can see the quality of the US politics and how fast it is corroding! In the Trump-Clinton campaign, hate speech is the order of the day. The consequences are such things like inter-racial hatred…the use of guns and so on. As Kenyans, do we still need to follow American politics knowing where it will take us? Don’t we need reform and genuine postmortem of our political system? Why do you think Tanzania is a bit reluctant in joining some decisions made by the East African Community? Can Kenya be Kenya without replicating unethical things from America? Indeed, our President told the US President off during press conference last year, by saying, in some values we differ with the Americans. He was political right and I credited him for that courageous response to President Obama on gay rights. Question yourself why President Mangufuli is not excited by touring the world, but rather, he adheres to his promise to the people, to clean up the system. Carry on with this topic…it is very important.

  90. Electorates in Kenya normally think through their tribal minds, we need to change this perception. There is need to have a radical surgery in this country to end ethnicity. Just like in Tanzania the Ujamaa policy really worked well. I wish we could copy it here. Civil society groups, pressure groups, NGO’s and other entities like IEBC need to be given space in this country to educate the masses on their rights and obligations as citizens. They shouldn’t just be following the politicians any how. Electorates need to know their votes count and shouldnt be depending on handouts from Politicians. Need to vote wise leaders.The media needs to play their role of education well. Most of the time when you check the papers or tv news its just about politics. The media seem to have forgotten its role of educating the masses. They need to have special pull outs on election matters to guide the electorates.

    • I agree with your recommendations. But remember, Tanzania had one genius, Julius Nyerere who did all he could to make the Tanzania a nation – Ujamaa. Tanzanians even today will refer to one another as “ndugu” so and so…even the President is Ndugu John Joseph Pombe Mangufuli. In Kenya, Mzee Jomo preferred Mtukufu raise… a title fit for a god. His successor, President Moi was lifted to the level of a small god through national songs…even some church songs were re-invented to suit his name. President Mobutu did the same in former Zaire and his sycophants almost worshipped him only to realize later that he was also mortal and could die…what disappointment for them. Carry on with this discussion…it is very good. How can Kenya today, embrace socialist undertones if it is purely capitalist? This is one of the reasons why some good and smart potential leaders may not see power…capitalists will simply snatch their victory. We are soon getting somewhere with this conversation.

  91. It deeply worries me when I see that a president will not rebuke evil just because it is committed by members of his political bloc. As a symbol of national unity he should rebuke evil from any political bloc and insist that it is the right thing to do. This shows that we are not yet ethically mature. We are too selfish in our thinking and leaders ought to rise above the common mwananchi, to demonstrate leadership.

    As to the argument that non-thinkers cannot elect a thinker as asserted by my good friend Dr. Onyango, I think, however true this argument may be in other scenarios, in the case of Kenya it is not entirely true because, most of the Kenyan voters are thinkers or have the influence of a thinker around them and so are capable of electing a thinker. However their decisions are often never truly reflected. When elections are not seen to be free and fair (even though observers say they are) the implication is that the good work of the thinkers is watered down and anyone can be excused for thinking those who publicly hurl hate phrases were popularly elected and that those who elected them are not thinkers.

    • You are very right Oyengo. You have introduced a new idea into this argument. The blame seems to be on the integrity of our institutions such as the electoral bodies. We know the woos facing the IEBC and the Commissioners are being sent packing, but on condition that they are paid what they demanded. Don’t you think that our institutions are also to blame for the plight of hate speech? Carry on with this topic, it is very good. What is your informed opinion on what should be the best avenue for the Kenyan young democracy?

  92. At one time a politician by the name Fahim from Lamu told the electorates that ‘nyinyi ikifika wakati wa kura nitawanunua’ when the elections come I will buy your votes. And indeed that happened and they voted for him to be their Member of Parliament, so you can’t expect such a person to bring development in that constituency because he would want to get back what he has spent. Such scenarios are so unfortunate. Civic education is a MUST. We need IEC materials, barazas, and all forms of education to be rolled out countrywide and enlighten the masses so that they are not exploited by greedy Politicians.

    • Politicians have learned how to exploit the poverty of the constituents by buying their votes. This is what we refer to as political corruption. One Hon. Tuju also told off his electorates off: I paid you to vote for me. Now I have got the job. I have to recover my money back. Many contenders for Parliament spend a lot of money. Some even dish out money in public. In reality, the poor see them as their little gods. Hon. Sonko is known for dishing out money or even offering material help to his constituents. Actually, in the Eastlands Sonko is the one fit to govern them not Dr. Kidero. This is another real situation facing the Kenyan politics. According to you, how can we divorce money from politics? The electoral law prohibits bribery but the the current IEBC has never denied anybody a ticket to vie for electoral position basing their charges on bribery of the electorates. Why is this the case? Can we blame our institutions for not doing enough to bring sanity in the democracy? Carry on with this argument.

  93. When Wittingstein argues in the book ‘Philosophical Investigations’ that language is a gamelike activity in which participants use signs in accordance with rules similar to the rules of chess and other social practices, which are themselves part of more general forms of life…I do agree with him completely. He adds an interesting one, “…we lay down rules, a technique for game and then when we follow the rules things do not turn out as we had assumed, that we are therefore as it were entangled in our own rules.”

    This is the situation in which leaders and more so politicians find themselves. When other politicians make hate speeches, they again find themselves where the crowds that wanted to stone the biblical adulterous woman were; unable to stone the ‘hate monger’ since they too have equally ‘sinned’. I see the solution come through proper education of the masses, especially the youth on the centrality of ethics especially in public speaking. The media can do this.

  94. Pauline Nyambura K50/88723/2016

    I think that that the President is quiet about Moses Kuria’s hate speech comments not because he agrees with them but because he is probably more worried about losing his popularity in that region. The President has forgotten that the Kenyan people look up to his leadership from all regions. It is on this basis that he should be very Kantian in his words and deeds. He needs to condemn hate speech mongers across the political divide and spearhead the process of prosecution, the consequence of this notwithstanding.

    • Thanks Nyambura. This shows us how difficult it is to find solution to some societal problems such as hate speech. It appears that even those who participate in hate crime might have backing from their political divide and communities. Still my question is, how can the media educate the communities? Is there a way in which Kenyan electorates can be objective in their decisions? Can Kenyan electorates fail to elect one candidate because he is a hate monger or not? Remember what we said about dogma and rationality. Can the Kenyan populace move from dogma and start thinking critically on who is fit to lead them? Try to find out any practical solution other than enacting anti hate speech legislation. Remember when 6 hate mongers were detained in Nairobi, the same political leaders including Raila had to work for their quick and unconditional release, a thing that left the public wondering about the sense of National Cohesion and Integration Act, if leaders do not obey it. I doubt if the President feared losing his popularity in the region. He would be a hero, anyway, if he would work to change the regional dogma. One can lose a region and win the rest of the nation. I remember if the first President had to differ with some from his region (Remember the Ngorokos) but he won the nation. A leader must be one who is ready to say no in order to achieve the ideal end…Philosopher King theory of Aristotle is valid.

  95. Pauline Nyambura K50/88723/2016

    What if in the upcoming elections in 2017 we the electorate decide to vote only for those who have not engaged in any hate speech?

  96. The greatest dilemma facing the society today is the ‘loose’ utterances by our political leaders. Most politicians do not take their time to put down their thoughts, re- read, think about the consequences of their utterances before giving their speeches. I argue that using certain irrational and emotional utterances in public, one can tell the intention of the speaker just as philosophers and psychologists did.

    Two days ago, Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte said that he will kill as many drug addicts in Philippines as Hitler did Jews. “Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now, there is three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them,” he said.

    In as much as we are in agreement that drug addiction is a big challenge in our society, the words uttered by President Durterte in praise of Adolf Hitler were inconceivable.

    His comments sparked global outrage, because thinking critically he shouldn’t have said such strong words, as they will have great impact on the drug addicts and the country as several initiatives to rehabilitate the addicts are ongoing.


  97. In 2012 General elections, EACC was vetting aspirants to see if they have integral issues, however, all of them were cleared. So we have a problem with our current EACC, it needs to be restructured. They need to be guided by ethics. IEBC on the other hand cleared all aspirants. I wonder which criteria they used. President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ruto were blamed for the 2007/2008 Post election violence, a suit was filed by NGO’s to bar them from contesting as they were facing charges at the ICC, Their candidature contravened Chapter Six of the Kenya Constitution which touches on integrity and code of conduct by individuals running for public office in Kenya.However, the Highest Court in the land being the Supreme Court cleared them to vie, saying their fate now lies with the people of Kenya whether to vote them in or out. This clearly shows all our institutions are failing. We need a radical change on how we think. If you leave everything to the electorates and we know the majority of them are not critical thinkers then we surely are in trouble. I believe Education among the masses is what will move this country forward. The other issue is there is a perception that has been created that leadership in this country is a reserve of the few elites, the rich people, no wonder most of those who win elections come from well off family. Its like a father is an MP when he is tired, his son will vie and win. They have created a perception that the political seat belongs to their families and is a preserve of the rich. For instance the 2017 elections nomination tickets are going to be sold at very high prices so as to increase their strength when they are doing their campaigns. Little did they know they will lock out the poor from contesting. We can divorce money from politics if and only if we become self conscious, if as electorates we refuse to accept bribes then nobody will be giving. We need to elect leaders with integrity.

    • Leadership as a reserve for an elite is aristocracy and creating dynasty in a democracy…but don’t you think, African understanding of democracy is a bit peculiar? Second question, don’t you think that in every democratic set-up there are powerful lobby groups? Such are well connected wealthy individuals who also determine who is to lead them? In Kenya, politics is not free and such well connected lobby groups will always interfere with free and fair elections…Thanks Rajan, carry on with this important conversation. I can read new ideas pouring in.

  98. Mwalimu Julius Nyerere believed socialism was an attitude of mind that countered discrimination and entailed equality of all people also known as ‘Ujamaa’. No wonder till today Tanzanians live peaceful. In Kenya we adopted the Capitalist concept whereby every man is for himself, trade and industry is controlled by private owners for profit for instance Uhuru Kenyatta family owns a large piece of land in Kenya, Nicholas Biwott owns at least three quarters of the land in Eldoret. I am against this capitalism concept. No wonder their is disunity among us. How would someone own thousand of acres of land while others are squatters in their own country? Most of our leaders are very selfish as they keep on grabbing lands even places where there are no lands..They have come to an extent also of grabbing land belonging to schools. In Tanzania the land belongs to the state. But in Kenya land belongs ti few individuals. Due to socialism in Tanzania because everyone takes the other to be a brother and a sister, for instance the former president of TZ Ali Hassan Mwinyi uses public transport, this can’t happen in Kenya. Thus Presidency in TZ is demystified for instance Mangufuli as you said is reffered to as NDUGU.

    • I remember one Prof. Ali Mazrui who passed on in the soil of America criticized the African democracy by explaining how elected leaders rule by guns, guard themselves with tight security, stay far from the people they rule, and even limit the freedom of expression. He was forced into exile and he only came back during President Kibaki’s regime as a Chancellor of the Kenyatta University. He thanked him for that. Well, in market economy which culminates the capitalist systems, the rule of willing seller willing buyer has made the poor to be always poor and the rich to be always rich. Actually, look at Kajiado County, for instance, many tycoons from elsewhere have purchased chunk of lands from the communities, clans and individuals who were willing to sell. Now many Masai are landless yet they badly need the land for their pastures. With time, if the policy of “willing seller-willing buyer” is perpetuated, I predict that many pastoralists will not survive. They will fight for their lands until they die. In the recent past, a certain place known as Corner Baridi – and Ngong, tycoons had bought lands and even built their villas and perimeter walls for security. Unfortunately, at some point they could not access their homes as residents would block the access roads and thugs would even attack them. Remember Sabaot Land Defence Force on the foots of Mt. Elgon. Landless youth ganged up and went into rampage attacking the landlords claiming their land rights. The government had to intervene by sending KDF and many were crushed. Land right in Kenya is a serious problem that has never been fully addressed. There is also the issue of social injustice that has never been fully addressed. TJRC was established to come up with a framework which has never seen the light of justice. Kenya National Land Commission was put in place by the new constitution of 2010 but has ever since been frustrated and nothing has been done about the land justice in Kenya. Capitalism will kill Kenya. As much as we believe in wealth accumulation which of course has made Kenya economically better positioned than Tanzania, we must also admit that it may not be the best solution to the African socio-economic problems. This is another big idea. Carry it on because I know many will have their say on this. Don’t you believe that hate crime is a fruit of certain social injustices? Don’t you think that our democracy is compromised because land grabbers and those who have not been legally correct will ensure that certain leaders may not ascend to power? There is politics of patronage in Kenya and the stakeholders will always fight those who may have dissenting opinion or even eliminate them. What the rich say, the opposition should not take the meat out of their mouth…so the fight is on and politicians are the ones to sort it out once and for all. Law and order explain why we need social justice in Kenya. Share the role of media in this story…

  99. African democracy is unusual in nature, in an ideal situation, democracy is supposed to be a government by the people. But in the case of Kenya this doesn’t happen. I am aware of powerful lobby groups that exists, they normally want to protect their businesses thus they will use any means to protect their interests. They will give any amount of money to be used as bribes to be given to the electorates. They normally have their candidate whom they know they can manipulate. I have seen this in Mombasa. When their favorite candidate wins, all tenders go to them. We also have the Mount Kenya Mafias that decide who should rule Kenya. So these politicians dont stand on their own, there are some forces that push them. They are the same people who make decisions for this country.

  100. Technological forces such as increase global use of social media is overcoming all barriers, creating more spaces to which flowering information reach the public. Due to this, some media houses have seem dwindling profits as the free information have kept flowing freely to the public arena. According to Economists magazine, television could not air some news some years ago; some information were reserved for the newspapers in United States.

    Due to conglomeration of large media corporations, democracy and freedom of speech, media has by time been able to shake the shackles of state to open the avenues to what can be aired. In this regard, there is no red line on which can be aired and what cannot. This has been left to media ethics which most media professionals have long forgotten. The focus has been on corporate interests. Hence, media perpetuate hate crime unconsciously emanating from politicians such as the case of Ruanda in 1994 where media was blamed for perpetuating hate crimes which resulted into genocide.


  101. Eric Eriksson said that there is no distinction between personal , professional and politics ethics. I too believe that there is no moral distinction between what you do as a journalist , a politician or a human being. This is because we all have moral obligation to respect each others rights regardless of who we were and what we do. We should always make ethical choices bearing in mind that we do not know where someone’s privacy starts and where it ends.

    • @Jane is it possible to operate within a unified ethical context? Sociologists tell us that we have multiple roles that we play in the course of our lives. We are at one time fathers, sons, teachers, husbands, students etc. Then how pray are we meant to unify our ethical stance? I believe we should ethics of the role at any one point.


    In my view ,Public speaking should reflect the character of the speaker and should be based on a foundation of trust, integrity, respect and dignity. The speaker should avoid behaviors like stereotyping, damaging messages and plagiarism.But is freedom of speech always ethical? If I define ethics as rules of conduct all human beings should possess that reflect what’s right and just, then just how far can a public speaker stretch the boundaries of what is legal and what is right? Aristotle’s Says, there was evidence that public speakers should adhere to five simple principles:
    Integrity in the subject matter
    Respect for others
    Dignity in conduct
    Truthfulness in message
    In this modern times, people expect that speakers will uphold these timeless standards. So, how does a speaker earn an audience’s approval?

    Article by: Njeru Samuel Kathuri
    Reg: K50/88346/2016


    I also argue that,
    It is difficult to ignore the hate-filled speeches of people, like Adolf Hitler or the Ku Klux Klan. The messages of violence, extreme power and supremacy are enough to make our skin crawl.
    One should avoid using biases or stereotypes when speaking to a group.it is best for public speakers to remain objective to their speeches. They should avoid generalizing or specifically bashing those who do not agree with their argument.
    posted by Njeru Samuel Kathuri

  104. I had the privilege to interact with Prof. Mazrui, he was a great scholar and he once told me that Oginga Odinga declined to take over government insisting that Jomo Kenyatta be released from detention and form the government as he was the rightful leader. Odinga was a selfless leader. The issue of willing seller willing buyer is really affecting us, in Lamu the Whites have bought all the beach plots and the land belonging to the people, making the lamu people landless now. In malindi same thing is happening, the Italians own majority of the hotels and plots, meaning they control the economy there, thus the Italians in Malindi have reached an extent that they sponsor their own candidates so as to protect their interests. In Likoni and Pirates beach in Mombasa, these tycoons have bought beach plots and even go to an extent of putting perimetre walls in entrances of public beach, at one time angry residents with support from Civil society groups demolished these walls. NLC has been at loggerheads with Lands Ministry for sometimes now, power politics has been dominating these two institutions. As we know land issue in Kenya cannot be ignored. TJRC report also raised the issue of land but as we know so many people have been mentioned in TJRC report and are in power at this time so we cant expect them to do anything in implementing the recommendations by TJRC report. Hate crime is a fruit of social injustices that I have enlighten above. Everyone is bitter because injustices have been done to them. Land grabbers are in the current regime. And those who own large parcels of land normally ensure they put their own people in power so as to protect their land and even frustrates the NLC and even the ministry of lands in carrying out its mandate. Opposition tries to capture power but they are frustrated as the ones who are in power now will ensure their reigns continues by planting their own people come next election. The media plays a very critical role of informing and educating the electorates. However, most of the media we have are owned by the same people who are in power thus cannot be objective in their reporting. Most of the journalists who write about these issues are either silenced with money, threatened, fired just like the cartoonist Gado who used to draw cartoons depicting the Government as bad and even killed. We also lack critical thinkers in todays media, who would guide the wananchi.

  105. Martin Luther King, Jr. said,” we must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” Lack of tolerance has led to an increase in cases of hate speech. Our leaders have failed the society as they are the biggest perpetrators of this crime. Any responsible leader must be able to carefully gauge their words before addressing the public. All over the world we have examples of serious crimes that have been commited as a cosequence of hate speech. In Kenya for example, the 2007-2008 violence is largely attributed to inflamatory remarks made by our leaders. This therefore raises a number of question, key among them being how can we tame this crime? I believe that that the media or rather the fourth estate should give a blackout to all statements that boarder on hate speech. This will help in curtaling raising of emotions that in turn bring violence. In kenya for example the media is one of the most trusted instititution in the country meaning it has a gigantic influencce among the masses. Further, I believe the media should take advantage of such influence and condemn leaders who use their public position to issue inflamatory statememts. it has also been argued that more stringent laws are required in order to discourage use of hate speech. All the loopholes in the law must be delt with. An argument that there is freedom of speech and thus one should have the liberty to speak their mind is both flawed and primitive. Freedom does not gurantee committing of crime and this should not be used as a line of defence. This problem of hate speech must be addressed as a serious problem, as it has the potential of destroying the society. Our media must use their influence and help in speaheading this .


  106. The media in Kenya are more of business as usual. If you look closely at the mainstream media, you will see so many adverts in it than educational articles or clips. The media is more interested in profit maximization and media concentration. I think this narrative ought to change. As much as we know they thrive on advert for survival, they still need not to forget its role of educating and informing the masses. Its role of CHECKS and BALANCES is also important. Putting the government on its toes every time it contravenes our CONSTITUTION and LAWS of the land. The media need to reclaim their space of being out MOUTH PIECES and MIRROR to the society.

    • I completely concur with you. The media are stopping to be guide-dogs and watch-dogs and rather move with the current of time. Wealth has re-defined the quality of the media products. As a result, media consumers are left in a den of confusion. The quality of media reporting has deteriorated rapidly in Kenya. Rather more air time is dedicated to commercial break. Remember how much turnover flow from such ads! It is money that matter more than the ideal values of the society such as educating the society. According to you, how should the media be reformed? Remember most of the media houses are owned by powerful individuals. Who owns K24? Who owns KTN and NTV? Who owns Royal Media – Citizen and FM radio stations. Many politicians own Vernacular radio stations to carry out their political propaganda…this has diluted the quality of media products. How can the media go against the current? What are the innovative mechanisms that you would suggest for Kenya today? Luos are fond of Ramogi Radio,Sky FM, Kamba have their own, Kikuyu have their own, the Kalenjins the same and so on…Guys we are divided and we keep on dividing ourselves along various affiliations. Market Economy penetrates the gaps that have been created for a long time to make in-roads and mint wealth out of divided and confused lot. Kenya is compared to the tower of Babel that may fire up at some point. It is a society of ownership and one who is fortunate can accrue as much as he can while others languish in dire poverty…

  107. I keep on asking how a leader can speak into the hearts of the majority in a diverse socio-cultural set-up such as Kenya. I have been watching the great speeches of President Obama again and again. I have also watched his grandiose speech during his historic visit to Kenya. His words appear to unite and build hope in the people other than exclusive and divisive. Most of the Kenyan public speakers miss out in uniting the nation and building hope. They use terms that divide the public and create a sense of cynicism which keeps on dividing Kenyans along ethnic divide, political divide and social status divide. Kenya is now a divided nation. A divided nation shall exclude others who do not tow the line and conform to the politics of the day. The question of equality and opportunity for all do not occur in the speeches of public speakers. Why is this fascism in young democracies? Why divide and rule other than unite, empower in order to lead? Do we have leaders or rulers? Share on this…

  108. The so called rich are the politicians in our country, they also own the stations. Eg k24- Uhuru, Ktn- Moi, Royal Media- SK Macharia who is a supporter of Raila. NMG- Agakhan. Nation was perceived to be a neutral media house until recently when a cartoonist by the name Gado was fired the next day after Agakhan visited Uhuru at Statehouse. Gado was portraying the Government as corrupt in his cartoons. Based on this fact, some of the ways of reforming the media is to, not to allow the state nor politicians to DICTATE their Contents or involve them in the process of hiring or firing of their staff. Not to allow their EDITORIAL process to be manipulated by the state. I believe media people are professionals, they know the extent of their freedom of expression and limitations. They should make it clear to the owners of these stations that they should not interfere with the running of the media houses. Media houses need to operate professionally by following the codes of ethics. Objectivity is a must in their reporting. The MEDIA COUNCIL of Kenya need to take their work of regulating the media and the conduct and discipline of journalists very seriously. Am disappointed with this office. Am aware of some journalists who have shown interest in vying for elective posts in the 2017 elections on jubilee and Cord ticket and have started campaigning but are still working for the media houses. How then do we expect them to be objective in their reporting?

    • Dar Es Salaam Born Godfrey Mwampembwa, the cartoon journalist whose art work is widely known as GADO might have been fired by his employer but he has won the hearts of many not only in Kenya but world-wide. He is still doing wonders and his cartoons traverse the entire universe. Am one of the consumers of GADO cartoon. I do believe that it is important to do the right thing in disregard to winning your daily bread. I do say this because of what Media have done to the world. Look at the Great China…this was a pure communist country with no freedom of expression. The Chinese revolution was perpetrated through media and it worked. Now China is one of the world giant economy and there is no doubt about what media revolution known as the “New Youth” did to China. The government may ban a journalist but his work will never die…we need bold journalism. But such journalism must be informed and steadfast. I believe media have all it takes to revolutionize Kenya. Even hate speech is just a passing cloud…New Media is unstoppable. What we need to do is just how to improve the quality of blogs and the general social media.

  109. Kenya is a multi ethnic community, am in the view that let us ban all the vernacular stations because they are the ones that propagate hate speech and continue to divide us as Kenyans. Lets just remain with English and Swahili stations. Having a common language is a symbol of national unity. Just imagine if every tribe has its own station, this will be insane.

  110. Words have consequences. They have the power to create a hate-filled culture, a culture that can kill. And yes, such a culture killed Ms Cox, a promising UK labor party MP. You also remember racist attacks that followed a Brexit campaign that demonized immigrants. Back in Kenya, such a hatred culture caused us loss of life and property, a scenario we wouldn’t want repeated. But the same hatred that fueled the war is being spewed all over. Do we ever learn? I strongly believe the buck stops with the citizenry. The citizenry has allowed itself to be whipped into different tribal cocoons such that every elections becomes a “tribe-walk”, with each tribe rallying behind its representatives. These representatives can then throw “hate-stones” and get away with it because any reprisal is viewed as a tribal attack. Every election, most Kenyans know the right thing to do, but we fail to take the bold step. However, the electorate has improved in it’s voting patterns thanks to increased literary. As such, I think that a liberating education system that teaches people how to think, as opposed to what, a system that teaches patriotism, and some level of socialism, selflessness, and civility would instill sobriety in our leaders and the electorate. . The media too has a duty to acknowledge the truth and support it with whatever means.

  111. To me, Gado was the only cartionist who tries to capture our politics very well in his cartoons. At one time he drew a cartoon and said, there are 4 arms of govt, Executive, Parliament, jusiciary and Corruption. I tend to agree that corruption has become like an institution in itself. Am flad even after his sacking at NMG, Gado continues publishing political cartoons that propagates change at his new job at Deutsche Welle (DW) Swahili. The new media is unstoppable. Kenyans are really using it to demand accountability from their government and demanding change in how things work. However, I have a concern with the quality of what comes out from the new media such as the blogs, twitter and facebook. Some people are using the new media for their iwn selfish gains. A politician can pay some people, seated in a room, and start insulting others, in twitter we call them twitter wars. Its so unfortunate that you will see a topic trending on twitter while it is just a work of merely four bloggers.

  112. There is need to improve the quality of blogs and social media. I believe our generation needs to be sensitised on the importance of education, that way we will be able to have great thinkers who will demand for change when the govt isnt doing enough, there will be quality of blogs. People need to be encouraged to do research also and write about what they feel. Even our professors in Kenya nowadays have stopped doing reserch, I believe they have a role to play in advocacy and guiding the Wananchi. We need to change the narrative that the new media like social networks are for socialising only, these are powerful tools if used properly can bring change in a country.

    • @Rajan, i agree with you on the need to improve the quality of our online content.The big question is, is it possible? For the blogs, yes because we can peg responsibility to individual bloggers, but for social media it may not be achievable because this is a media without a face. People hide under fake names and identity. The social media users are diverse and have different demographics. The new media is widespread, imagine a case where a blogger from another country or continent use hate speech about Kenya citizens or the president, how easy is it to follow or to punish such a person? which law is going to be used to convict them?

  113. Language is not just a medium of representation but a social tool of communication. Issues are always bound to happen when we misuse language. Public speakers should always know that the language they use is bound to impact their audiences either positively all negatively. For example when politicians speak publicly and advice their followers to take pangas and chase certain tribes away from their areas. This is misleading but the followers tend to follow their words. i argue that we should always weigh what we say in public. As communication students, we should be advocates of ethical practices.

  114. According to Aristotle model of communication, the speaker plays the greatest role. Most times than not the speaker understands the subject of discussion more than the audience. Therefore it is important for him/her to ensure the audience receive the intended meaning to avoid misinterpretation. Other times the audience choose to be subjective no matter how well the message is crafted. Both the speaker and the receiver have a duty when it comes to encoding and decoding of messages.

    • Did you mean to say Aristotle or someone else?

    • Where in Aristotle? Did you mean his Nicomechian Ethics? Illustrate this point of Aristotle.

      • Aristotle’s Model of Communication (which he proposed before 300 BC) is a speaker-centered model as the speaker has the most important role in it and is the only one active. The other elements are speech/message, occasion, audience and effect. In this model the speaker plays a key role in communication, he is the one who takes complete charge of the communication. The sender should therefore prepare the content carefully, putting his thoughts in words with an objective of influencing the listeners or the recipients. The model says that the speaker communicates in such a way that the listeners get influenced and responds accordingly. The speaker must be very careful about his selection of words and content before preparing his message/speech.

  115. Communication theory provides some insight into the harms caused by hate speech.According to the ritual model of communication,racist expressions allow minorities to be categorized with negative attribute tied to them,and are directly harmful to them.Matsuda et al(1993) found that racists speech could cause in the recipient of the message direct ,physical and emotional changes.I argue that whoever that discriminates people either by race,skin or tribe should realize the impact he or she causes to these people.Treat people equally,use responsible language in any public speech.The use of vernacular too in a public rally should stop since its annoying especially to those that do not get meaning.

  116. Elizabeth Njuguna k50/87543/2016

    I totally agree with Goebbel statement that the greatest enemy of state is the truth.Many Politicians are always after gaining their own interest and not necessarily help the public.We have had elections before and many kenyans have been left desperate after casting their votes based on the promise of a politician only ending up to be dissapointed.Many politicians are always after gaining personal interests and they do this by giving false promises to the public.

  117. Elizabeth Njuguna k50/87543/2016

    Do we have to blame it all to the media because of disseminating the hate speech altterd by any politiciatians?.I dont think the media should be held responsible of giving the information given by our leaders whether positive or negative .I have seen so many cases among our politicians whereby they alter negative statements then they later on end up saying they were misqouted.Before any politician gives a statement they should first sieve their words because interpretation of the message varies amongst the individuals or the public.

  118. Ignorance and careless speaking with a motive to defame another person’s reputation especially among political rivals can be damaging. While these leaders sometimes do this to feed their Egos and seek public Rapport by sounding so articulate as they openly spell the misdeeds of their competitor and often using inappropriate language, they tend to forget the influence their utterances will have on their listeners. Words are so powerful; they can destroy or make. The art of public speaking is a crucial tool to any communicator because adhering to these rules promotes a peaceful coexistence in the society.

  119. Widespread of hate speech through leaders planned mass killings in the Holocaust, Rwanda disseminated ideologies of hatred to spur their followers to act into passivity and justify their crime. It is becoming increasingly clear that certain types of hate speech can serve as both a warning sign and catalyst of genocide and mass atrocities. Understanding how much speech acquires the power to incite group targeted mass violence identifying where and when such inflammatory speech is occurring and developing ways to counter such speech can all help to prevent these crimes. Therefore, public speakers should plan, prepare and write their speeches before delivery since word are very powerful tools of communication according to Ludwig and different people interpret meaning differently depending on how, where and when spoken. This will reduce violence amongst us.

  120. MEDIA OWNERS ARE TO BLAME FOR THE SPREADING OF HATE SPEECH! Media as the fourth estate,should be directly liable for what is passed to the public.Roles of the media include, to inform,educate and entertain. All these functions should ensure positive progression of society.

    An owner of a weekly review in Turkey was convicted and fined for publishing two letters from readers in August 1992. The letters seemed to spread propaganda, incitement, animosity and hatred. The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights argued that the language used in the letters could be interpreted as an encouragement for further violence. The owner of the review in his defense, asserted that, his connection was commercial and not editorial. However, the court ruled hat he had power to shape the editorial policy just like the journalists and editors.

    There not being stringent measures to curb airing of hate speech messages in the media, politicians have learned the art of overstepping boundaries. They are equally aware of the political ownership of the media and therefore use the platforms to create mileage for their campaigns in the most controversial ways possible.

  121. “Words are like eggs, dropped from great heights; you can no more call them back than ignore the mess they leave when they fall.” quote by Jodi Picoult an America author. At times the mess can be too big not to be ignored.

    In the case of Rwanda for example,where demeaning descriptions were used on the Tutsi ethnic group referring to them as “cockroaches” that needed to be eradicated, led to massive genocide in 1994.

    Political leaders and broadcasting houses have time and again adopted particular ideologies to engage individuals and groups through the construction of a perceived common enemy. For example, the government versus the opposition and vice versa portraying either as evil or a cultural, social or economic threat to the group of ethnicity.

    To prevent these, diversity should be promoted. This can be achieved by involving experts from diverse ethnic groups. Media specialists should be trained on professionalism and be required to update their skills from time to time. Tough rules should be put in with no option to bail.

  122. Loreen Nyawira muriithi

    In my opinion hate speech has become a dilemma in the country ,and this is why even those in power (courts) are doing nothing about it and letting those accused of hate speech scort free.This has even been increased by the changing technology whereby nowadays through social media eg Facebook,twitter,watsup,snap-chat, people are at liberty to post anything and no one will ask them.people go ahead posting bad things,abusive language etc but there is no one to question them or take to them to court.hence to eradicate /cub hate speech we must start by disciplining ourselves first.it all starts with us ,then others follow.be mindful of what you post for the public to see.self discipline first. k/50/87379/2016

  123. I do agree with Ludwig’s philosophy that politicians need to go through their speeches before delivering them to the public. The language used and choice of words by our political leaders play an integral part in the promotion of national cohesion. In Kenya a number of leaders have found themselves on the receiving end for making utterances purported as hate speech. Going through the speeches will enable them to avoid such scenarios. K50/87891/2016

  124. Elizabeth i like your argument. we all need to be responsible as we speak. I think the reason why we blame the media is simply because media has a role to play according to the media code of ethics. The public sees the world through the eyes of the media. Media is the social mirror of any society and it has the mandate to ensure whatever is being disseminated is true, factual and it minimizes harm. That’s why we have the gatekeepers who sieve the information before dissemination.
    Much as the public has the right to know and to be informed, the media should avoid channeling any information that can cause mayhem.
    The agenda setting theory explains well the power of the media since through its placement it gives people what to discuss and the multiplier effect ensures that this information spreads very fast.

  125. In June this year, eight politicians drawn from the leading political coalitions were arraigned in court on charges of hate speech.

    The Constitution of Kenya – promulgated in August 2010 – includes, in Chapter 4, an extensive Bill of Rights. Article 33 of the Constitution protects each individual’s freedom of expression, which extends to freedom to seek, receive or impart information or ideas, freedom of artistic creativity, academic freedom as well as freedom of scientific research.

    However, paragraph (2) of Article 33 limits freedom of expression by stating that it does not extend to: propaganda for war, incitement to violence, hate speech or advocacy of hatred that constitutes ethnic incitement, vilification of others or incitement to cause harm. In addition, such freedom of expression must not violate any ground of discrimination specified or contemplated under Article 27 (4)[1] and must be exercised with respect to the rights and reputation of others.

    In addition the role of the Kenyan media in promoting access to information and promoting freedom of expression can never be understated. In addition, the media helps to shape public opinion as is evident from the outcome of media monitoring covering the first ever multi-party elections in 1992 and the subsequent elections in 1997 and 2002, the referendum in 2005 and the general elections in 2007.

    Could we be dealing with a situation where politicians are ignorant to the extent that they have no understanding that their words incite violence especially when they are ethnically charged?

    Simon Mwangi Muita

  126. You cannot speak about hate speech without looking at tribalism as one of the causes. Extreme loyalty to one’s tribe breeds strong negative feelings for people outside of the group.

    Tribalism primarily emanates from poor and weak governance and leadership. Our leaders have failed us for it is the 5% who propagate tribalism and most of them are in the pockets of these 5%.
    The major problem in Kenya is that if you try to criticize them, you are accused of belonging to a particular political faction, or more accurately, tribe.
    I think Plato put it best, when he suggested that those who are able to see beyond the shadows and lies of their culture will never be understood, let alone believed by the masses.


  127. To answer the question of what needs to be done to help curb tribalism, and hate speech utterances, we need to look to the media. In this respect, I concur with Zakheem Rajan when he argues that the media of late has not been active in their duty to serve as the public watchdogs, they have instead focused on generating profit_how many ads do we see today? Countless, and even when they do focus on politics, we see that their objectivity is non existant. This is where the point made by Dr. Onyango comes into light, the media is owned by a few individuals with their own personal agendas_
    In respect, I think that independent media outlets such as social networks and blogs need to pick up the slack, and repeatedly condemn this menace that still holds our nation hostage.
    As we approach the general elections, there is a need to mobilize and sensitize Kenyans against tribalism and negative ethnicity

  128. joyce chebet k50/88601/2016

    why should the leaders use hate speech in order to be prominent? even if leaders use hate speech the media should not keep on talking about the hate speech because it makes people to react in different ways which could sometimes be very negative and when negative it can lead to punishing the person by hanging. in addition, if the media had kept quiet then nothing would have actually happened to the person.

    • @chebet, this is a n important point you have raised. The media should focus its effort on reporting on the positive side of things. It should ignore politicians and public speakers who are out to divide or offender the audience. If the media does not write/broadcast hate speech from the politicians, only a small number of people will know about the hate speech. Media time and again has become the catalyst or the vehicle in which hate speech and hate crime is spread. Media should go back to its traditional role of educating, informing and entertaining. It should always be objective and follow the rule of law.

      • CATHERINE MONI i agree with you, and if the Kenyan media remain objective and stop being bias then it will be setting a good agenda for the majority and at the end there will be objectivity in the media though independence will still be of great debate.

  129. joyce chebet k50/88601/2016

    why should the leaders use hate speech in order to be prominent? even if leaders use hate speech the media should not keep on talking about the hate speech because it makes people to react in different ways which could sometimes be very negative and when negative it can lead to punishing the person by hanging. in addition, if the media had kept quiet then nothing would have actually happened to the person. (JoYCE CHEBET K50/88601/2016)

  130. To what extend can we blame the media for spreading hate speach given that it a medium of communication. Is the media expected to play a watchdog roel-edit out all hate speech messages?

  131. Social media today has come a platform where people spread hatred,promote violence. In May, 2016 European Commission and IT companies announced code of conduct on illegal online hate speech.They ensured that online platforms do not offer opportunities for illegal online hate speech spread in face book,twitter,you tube and Microsoft.Hate speech were to be reviewed by online intermediaries and social media platforms upon receipt of valid notification in an appropriate time frame.This was a very good step and should be copied by other countries.

  132. Hate speech in many countries is problem,and there are various arguments over freedom of expression restrictions.For instance the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression,Frank La Rue,agreed ,the right to freedom of speech must be paramount since infringing on speech rights can have severe consequences,especially in countries where governments use prohibitions on speech to silence dissent.’Restrictions on speech should be the exception”He said.the state has an obligation to protect people from harm, but not from offense.such provisions should only apply to where speech causes harm to others like incitement to genocide and child pornography.

  133. @Zakheem Rajan, I disagree with your argument posted on October 2 that we should ban vernacular radio stations. I am of the opinion that we should have even more stations. I also believe I should be be able to learn a local language in a local university. This is why; we should be proud of our cultural diversity by promoting local dialects as this defines who we are. Anything is bad and damaging when used negatively. Hence, we should endeavour to promote media ethics and proffesionalism even in local stations. K50/87018/2016

  134. @Joyce Chebet, in you comment posted on October 4, You are asking a question ‘why leaders use hatespeech and why media keep talking about it’ . As much as I opine with your argument, one thing is true- politicians and the media do not give a damn about the ‘mwananchi’ as long as they are safeguarding their status quo. Politicians want to gain political mileage by being controversial and the media want to highlight such talk to sell more. That is how it is. Bad news sells and controversy makes you standout, unfortunately thats how our society is; man for himself and God for us all.

  135. Meshack Kimeu K50/88188/2016

    Media play an important role in setting the agenda in any given society. In many aspects, they are the mirror of the society they exist in. Cognizant of this important role, they have a duty to protect and portray the society in the best way possible.
    As illustrated in the piece, reckless remarks by leaders have caused social strife and even plunged countries into war. While the media ought to have played an active role in averting the wars that loomed, they indeed aided in the bloodshed that followed by transmitting messages that set communities or people against each other.
    During the hotly contested 2007 Kenya elections, vernacular radio stations referred to members of some communities as ‘madoadoa’ (spots) that had to be gotten rid of from their midst. Transmissions of such messages led to displacement, maiming and killing of people who did not belong to the local community in these areas. Depending on who owned the outlet, some TV stations showed their ‘preferred candidate’ in the lead thus headed for victory.
    The above scenario violated media ethos of fairness, balance and objectivity. By choosing sides in an election that was very close to call, the media failed in its watchdog role.
    Whereas Gordon Brown lost his premiership in the UK due to an off the cuff remark that was not supposed to be heard, in Kenya politicians cunningly hide behind metaphorical Swahili or vernacular utterances to make damaging remarks. It is not by chance that anyone charged with incitement claims to have been misquoted. Upon paying laughable bails, the courts easily let off culprits with cases eventually collapsing for lack of evidence. Interestingly, there is always enough video evidence that never makes to the courts to strengthen the cases.
    The war against hatemongers ought to be multi-faceted, consistent and with far reaching consequences for culprits. It is a shame that politicians use language that is deemed inciting in the public opinion court yet the same fails to be proven in court of law. The time for politicians to hide behind the ‘I was misquoted veil’ is over and culprits ought to pay the price for their reckless utterances at the face-value. We need to strengthen institutions that are tasked with dealing with national cohesion or disband them altogether paving way for pro-active ones.
    Individual responsibility for those who broadcast hate messages needs to be prioritized with a heavy price to pay for failing to adhere.

  136. K50/87448/2016
    It’s clear that contemporary media has in some instances failed in its mandate as the sole source of information to the common citizen. But is it really media to blame entirely for the mixed signals generated by communicators? My take is a Yes…just yesterday 3/10/2016 the Anglican Church’s archbishop Ole Sapit was on record on NTV saying that introducing sex education in learning institutions will contribute to an increase in sexual activities like lesbianism, gayism and even STIs as well as early pregnancies among the teens. This leaves one wondering why no media personality sought Sapit’s audience to enable him further elaborate on his remarks because his view on sex education are out of context. Media has a responsibility and if that responsibility is not undertaken then are we not compromising the ethics? Well in 2007/2008 post election skirmishes media played its role in fuelling the situation. If people such as journalist Arap Sang were ethical enough they would have sieved their statements before going on air to incite the native people of Rift Valley to take up arms against the ‘foreigners’ as Sang had put it. Well Wittgenstein is a strong advocate of communication being done properly. If you can’t communicate the intended signal then he argues you would rather not communicate at all. The spoken word is the most powerful medium of communication therefore whatever we say must carry the intended meaning.

  137. I find the IEBC and The Judiciary, especially the Supreme Court culpable in as far as promotion of hate speech is concerned. When a people realize that the two institutions can not facilitate a fair play ground for ‘free and fair’ elections, as was the case in Kenya for both 2007 and 2013, then they become disparaged and resort to primitive behavior such as hate speech. In countries where the two institutions are fairly credible such as the United States of America, Britain etc there is less hate speech. Just like little children resort to crying and insults when there’s not much they can do about a given situation, so do politicians who feel that their two weapons stated earlier can’t help.

    This raises the issue of integrity. The integrity of the two institutions is crucial in taming hate speech. The constitution of those therefore ought to be done with a lot of sobriety and not based on ‘political settlements’ if they have to pass the test of time. Every citizen ought to have the interest of the nation at heart if such sober constitution of the IEBC and Supreme Court is to succeed.

    • Beddah, I agree. Law enforcement authorities in this country must be sleeping on the job. All must be equal before the law and if a state officer disrespects the law, then such abuse of office must not be taken lightly. How many leaders have been charged and successfully prosecuted in Kenya? Where is the problem? Share more on this.

  138. The heightened use of hate speech by politicians during the electioneering period points to their recognition of the power of language. The contextual words could be erroneously interpreted and the consequences too dire for the country. A case in point is when a jubilee member of parliament appeared to publicly call for the assassination of the leader of opposition. This public declaration fanned by the media resulted in an uproar from different spheres of life. The perpetrator of the hate speech is often always arrested then let out on bond and in most cases they still continue spewing out the hate speech. In this case though, the two leaders appeared in public having lunch and said they had buried the hatchet. The fact that hate crimes are hardly brought to full prosecution if not dragging on for years on end suggests that sometimes the conflict is between maintaining free speech and preserving the well being of the society.

    • It is true that some unethical politicians use the loophole in the system to carry out hate crimes. Now we have the issue of Moi University where people have defied a none Kalenjin as the VC. Ethnicity is a big problem that divides the nation into tribal blocs. University should be an entity above exclusive divisions…one should be employed on merit. This is where the bureaucracy goes wrong. I would not agree that most of the politicians are degree holders, I mean to say, if such papers have not been faked or given on corrupt deal. Now, we need also to look at how we educate our politicians…if we educate them on corrupt way, then what we expect from them is nothing less than corruption. Academic independence must be upheld by our laws…just as, professional journalism must be independent from any influence.

  139. Reading through most of my colleauges blogs, it seems like it is the media that is the promoter of hate speech. However, i beg to respectivel disagree.First, the media does not create the messsages but rather provide a medium to transmit the same.Secondly, the media and politicians have a symbiotic relationship-media needs politicians to provide the news to boost circulation and politicians need media to create and sustain visibility. This my explain the constain flow of hate messenges we encounter in our press daily.

    • Saying that media do not play a role then we are like saying, media houses have no strategic policies to inform and form the society. I do believe that from the media theories, one of the principal roles of the media is to educate the masses, oversee government powers, and stand by values such as peace and harmony, facts such as reporting factual events in a manner that would bring the desired consequences. It is one thing to report and another, to report it rightly. I would hesitate to acquit the media from hate speech.

      • Media as the medium through which messages are channeled has a duty to filter and standardise the content or even to discard the message all together. It should not deviate from its role of informing and educating to propaganda. Gatekeepers should do their work at all times.

  140. Media has a way to spike stories or make them live. The problem comes in when the elites who are mostly the media owners don’t give the practitioners an opportunity to practice what they have studied. The other problem i believe arises when the we have media houses employing non professionals’, a good example is in the vernacular stations where mostly they employ people based on talents. These people do not even understand the ethics so they can never practice ethical journalism. i believe the CAK and media council of Kenya (MCK )have a role to play here. Only them can help curb the transmission of hate speech.

    • Wamathu I find your comment very interesting. Do you mean to say that Media are not free? Is there media independence in Kenya? Is it still relevant to speak about freedom of media, which is constitutional right? This is the reason why many media consumers now switch to social media…the reason is, the mainstream media have lost their watchdog role.

      • In as far as the constitution of Kenya is concerned ,it does not guarantee freedom of media. The law merely guarantees freedom of speech to all persons. In effect, the media in Kenya does not enjoy constitutional protection.
        Press freedom is paramount to society growth,it ensures participation,transparency and accountability in the society. In the resent annual Press Freedom Day held in May 2016 concerns were raised regarding the new regulations KFCB had introduced eg. as sited- the condom advertisement to be banned .
        Such actions run contrary to basic human rights recognized by the General Assembly of the United Nations as documented in the Human Rights Acts acticles 18 and 19.

        • Hello Luseka, I like the irony in your comment. Under Section 34 of the Constitution, there is clear provision of Media Freedom. As far as I understand, the constitution protects media and the state. Unless the media houses are not keen on their constitutional rights and duties. I suggest that journalists must understand the authority of the law and make good use of it without fear or favour whatsoever.

  141. Beda, you have a good point and I would like to add that in Kenya any office bearer in major public/state offices is politically appointed. Merit is send option after political connections, hence one has strings attached to his/her appointing power and cannot deviate from what they are told.
    people in this offices sing and dance to the tunes of appointing authority either opposition or ruling party. Yes there are isolated cases like one former EACC chairman prof. P.o Lumumba. When he was appointed, Kenyans were happy because we believed he was the right man and was equal to the task. But the who is who in society felt he was against their reign of dominance, corruption and impunity. He therefore had to be taken out.

  142. Ethnic politics is corroding the quality of the university education in Kenya. Even if we always look at Moi University and that of Eldoret, there is something that is not adding up. The constitution has not put any border when it comes to where to work, to live, to study and to serve. Not even the devolution theory…all are citizens and must be served according to merits. If one is qualified to do the job, he or she must not be vetted on ethnic or political bias. Taking ethnic politics to Counties and to Public Universities is a real doom to the progress. It has revealed how far Kenya has gone with fanning ethnic politics.
    It would not work well for politicians to think that if the VC is one of their own, then they are serving their constituents well. If anything, they are only becoming parochial, petty, tribalists, and their leadership is only creating more hate crime. Such trends should be tamed on time and save the nation from drifting into serious problems. The constitution is clear on cultural heritages and our diversities. Education must not take the political line, it is a wrong precedent and it forms the wrong psyche of the society.
    How if one is qualified and merits the job? Do we still need to inquire into ethnic belonging?

    • Hon. Ole Kaparo is pushing for the law enforcement on ethnic audit. He has no mention on what his predecessor did and he never acted on such audit. Is this not a political positioning? How sure are we that Ole Kaparo shall deliver? Why duplicate such ethnic audits and there is no action or clear policy? National Government must sleeping on the job…please put your comment.

  143. It’s evident that public speakers don’t really care about the consequences of their words as long as they gain political millage, It’s time that the legal system stepped up to deal with such cases decisively. Judicial decisions should be based on the resulting acts of the masses and not on a speakers excuse trying to say they did not mean what they said.
    I think it’s time public speakers identified and applied ethical standards throughout their speech processes in order to avoid ugly experiences that have resulted from their inappropriate utterances.

    • Chebet, I do concur with your opinion that public speakers must care for the public. There is what is known as public interest and duty to care for the public. Reckless words can harm many innocent persons. In defamation, duty of care is one of the elements of law that courts look at. Did the speaker care about the public concern? Does his speech harm anybody in the public sector? Such are some of the questions that appear under the innuendo of hate crime charges.

  144. Is the law so hard to implement on the public figures spewing hate speech?
    Because so long as the politicians, social media users go scot-free for reckless utterances or take so long to be prosecuted, then hate speech is something we will keep dealing with for a long time.
    And media should not be entirely blamed for fanning hate speech, when there are bloggers, social media which are highly unregulated and whose words travel fast especially with the smart phones.

    • Gicobi, it is not hard to enforce the media law in Kenya. But remember that law is corruptible by systems and the so called law makers. Legislators in Kenya are very much aware that with money you can get away with your crime. Second issue, most politicians always take refuge in their backyards…”my community”. Remember what the MP of Uasin Gishu said about arguing that only Kalenjins should get jobs at the Moi Public University. As so long as he is right to create employment for the local members of the community, he must also understand that public institutions are public. Public means, whoever is qualified shall merit the position in disregard to his or her ethnicity. According to you, what is happening at Moi University may affect learning quality and the proper understanding of Kenya as a unitary government? Discuss more on your views. The MPs must also be forced to apologize to the public for any error they make in public speaking. What is your take on this?

      • What is happening in Moi University is disappointing and shameful at the very least and it will definitely affect the quality of learning-the teaching and non-teaching staff in the school will feel unsettled. The quality of graduates churned out of the institution, too could be affected. Apologising to the public for wrong utterances made in public is prudent, but I would say prevention is better than cure. Which is the best way to deter hate speech? Like in the case of Moi University, if the Governor apologised, some of us may not get to hear of the apology, or even if we do, the damage is already done. Our President is leading the pack of reckless talk, and even if he apologised for his “tunakula nyama” statement, it does not cancel the weight of that statement, that it is his time for the government to eat. That statement negates all his talk on fighting corruption. I would say we need to create a revolution, to fight hate speech. “Twitter Nazi”as it is fondly called, or any other form of social media can support awareness campaign, hashtags, blogs-sphere and all . That no Kenyan should support a politician who hides behind community to spread hate. It might succeed to a small extent. Similar to how we try to show photos of people fighting because of politicians, as the politicians themselves dine and wine.

  145. The Kenyan constitution is clear on what hate speech is, and how it should be handled, yet justice, more often than not, falls short of public expectations. The public opinion is that, justice for the well to do and the political class is different from the common mwananchi. To put this into context, we need to look at cases for politicians like Chirau Ali Mwakwere, Moses Kuria and Ferdinand Waititu who were acquitted by just offering an apology despite the weight of their utterances. On the other hand the common man experience the full force of the law. In the case of Allan Wadi, a Moi University student who ended up being convicted, after being charged with hate speech and insulting President Uhuru Kenyatta. He pleaded guilty and was jailed for two years. Though he had stated that, given a chance he would apologise to the president, such a chance did not occur.

    As the saying goes, “ Justice delayed is justice denied”. Even where the politicians are not acquitted cases drag on in court and they end up being thrown out for lack of evidence or other technicalities.

    • I agree with you on one point! Justice system is corruptible! Persons with big money get away with their crime in Kenya. However, in principle, this not how systems ought to operate. It damages the meaning of justice system. The judiciary must treat all the accused equally, in disregard of their social status, positions or ethnicity. It is a reality that in Kenya, no political figure has ever been successfully prosecuted. There is what we refer to as stepping aside for investigations. Hon. Kimunya was the first to step aside successfully. Stepping aside has no legal meaning or interpretation in court. It is just a political gesture of obeying the law. However, some stones are heavy and cannot be overturned. A society of unequal is geared towards distrust and low confidence in the judicial system. It is in this manner that there is vetting of the judges and magistrates. My worry is, does the vetting bear fruits? Do the honourable judges take vetting as something that may deter them from corruption? According to you, why? Why are some stones too big to be overturned? Is law meant for only the poor or some category of citizens? If we all pay taxes to the same government, how comes we are not treated equally? Very interesting Moni…carry on.

      • The sad thing is, even when they step aside for the investigations, they draw their salary which is paid by the tax payers. when the commissions are formed to investigate them the findings and recommendations do not see the light of day. Judges form a very small population in the Judiciary, therefore it is very important to relook at other areas in the judiciary that needs surgery. We need to uproot the problem rather than prune it.

        The kenyan population should be educated about the two tribes in kenya, the rich and the poor. The sooner the poor realize that they are used like just tools by the rich, and then dumped, the better.

        I feel that we should have a special court to handle hate speech and hate crime and timelines should be given on how fast to complete such cases.

  146. In not so long time I listened to Senator Muthama utter disgust and shame when he addressed the crowd at Uhuru Park. There can never be any justification as to how he spoke at the rally. He should respect our women even if he has issues with Ms. Waiguru and the President. As a leader he should know his position demands that he chooses his words carefully and that is what is called wisdom. Unfortunately, it not only him who is guilty of this kind of unbecoming and horrendous behavior but most of our politicians are. Indeed this has become the trend of our politicians and it is as if they assume regrettably, the more derogatory you speak the more appealing you appear. As a society we have reached a point where we must say no to these politicians who do not respect Kenyans and spew venom with no due regard.

    It is unfortunate we have to sit and listen to politicians who not only abuse our intelligence but show disrespect to us yet we are the same people who have employed them. They should show decorum and humility .Our media need to change tact and do an overhaul on the way they cover our politicians and only cover them when they share what is helpful and that which will build our country. The media should not commit acres of space and time by focusing on political shenanigans but would rather cover developmental issues. Indeed most of our politicians have knocked themselves off the pedestal and no longer have moral authority to stand and talk to us. Such politicians lack locus standi to be covered by the media and should be given a total blackout.

    Our Politicians have failed this country and are the least trusted people. Should our media give them a total black-out then they’ll see the need to style up and respect us. Our politicians have an amazing obsession with the negative and the bizarre. They capitalize on all negative things in order to gain some cheap political mileage. They are hell-bent on creating a country of cynics, sycophants and pessimists. Indeed, occasionally, Kenyans are even described as being among the world’s most optimistic people. This is in recognition of what our politicians treat us to, yet we remain unbowed and optimistic. Regrettably, our politicians behave as if we are a nation of fools and naivety, serving us with all their shenanigans. We must start somewhere to tame our political leaders and I suggest media blackout to be the starting point. This will instill discipline and our politicians will stop treating us to their mediocre and nonsense. If our politicians cannot engage us with what matters then the media have no business giving them space and airtime. Our politicians take the largest blame in balkanising this country along the ethnic lines and thus qualify for no meaningful coverage by our media.

    I advise our media instead to focus more positive news such as marathons wins the world over by our athlete, the seventh wonder of the modern world, the great migration of wildebeest in the Maasai Mara and new methods of farming among others. This way as a country we will move forward and we will be positively induced. It will also help bring down tribal vitriol that is fanned and fueled by our politicians. Since the media is able to set the agenda of this Nation, ignoring the politicians will enable Kenyans focus on more important issues that will uplift them. Lastly, any politician worth his name must engage his mind before engaging his mouth. We must start healing this society by enforcing responsible talk by our politicians. Only the media can help us achieve this.

    Bernard Kimani

    • Hello Kimani, why do you think, our politicians believe in ethnic politics? Why do they refer back to their communities by saying we are targeted yet they know their responsibility to uphold the constitution? Is the term “community in Kenya” used as a patronage and a defense to commit political crimes? Discuss this even further…it is very interesting.

  147. Countries like United Kingdom and Canada have very clear laws that criminalize hate speech. This is majorly because of political goodwill which in my view remains absent is very many countries. The Criminal Code of conduct in Canada, for instance, clearly prohibits hate propaganda and and spells the punishment by the perpetrators; this is very well supported by the Executive, Legislature and even the Judiciary. For example Sections 318 of this Code describes “Hate propaganda” as “any writing, sign or visible representation that advocates or promotes genocide or the communication of which by any person would constitute an offense. Section 319 prescribes penalties from a fine to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years for anyone who incites hatred against any identifiable group while Section 320 allows a judge to confiscate publications which appear to be hate propaganda. This process is not politicized (as it happens in many other countries like Kenya) and very much supported by other institutions such as Police and Civil Society groups.

    In a situation where the arms of government – Executive, Legislature and Judiciary, are not harmoniously working together, provides very fertile grounds for the perpetrators of hate speech. This is the vacuum that politicians will take advantage of to advance their own political agenda and fight opponents regardless of the impacts of their actions and utterances. Thomas Hobbes, a London born (1588) government scholar in his famous works, Leviathan (1651) argued that people were naturally wicked and basically selfish creatures who would do anything to better their position. Hobbes argued that an absolute monarchy – a government that gave all power to a king or queen – was best. He argued that this way there would not be a vacuum as all powers would be bestowed upon one person who would then enforce different laws without any conflicting interests. As Hobbes proposal of a monarchy would not be a possibility today in most countries/ governments, it supports the argument that there is a need to have a very clear law on hate speech and that the different arms of government and institutions ought to be fully supported to perform their duties. This way it will be possible to fight hate speech.

    • @Gitonga, i agree with you on the arms of the government working together. This would provide a seamless justice system, the perpetrators of hate speech would have no where to run to.

      I also concur with you on the issue of centrelised power, if we were to compare Moi’s era and the current era, hate speech was at its lowest then as compared to now.

      Another issue we need to look at is our neighbours, Uganda and Tanzania, are they experiencing the magnitued of hate speech and hate crime that Kenya is experiencing? I want to believe the answer is no, so the next question is, what are they doing right, what are we doing wrong as a country?

      • @Catherine, how does dictatorship become a solution to control hate crime? The Countries you mention-Tanzania is a democracy and Ujamaa is the only reason why they have been able to keep their unity despite rising pressure to embrace antagonistic politics.

  148. Aurelia Ochieng -k50/86952/2016

    I agree with you Peter. There is more to this ethnicity thing than it meets the eye. why would I go to central Kenya and find that all institutions there are run by people from the same community. put it in mind that it I the government who deploys workers in this institutions. This just means that somebody somewhere does not care about ethnic diversity.This situation applies to every other county in the country.
    this only promotes ethnicity and hate crime.as long as one is competent enough,he/she is allowed to work in any part of Kenya. we are all “wenye nchi”

    • Ochieng, I do concur with your opinion on ethnic diversity. We are all human beings. We have our fears and uncertainties when it comes to limited resources. Kenya, after all, is still a poor country. The resources are very limited while the population is growing steadily. By 2030, Kenyans may get to 50 million if nothing tragic happens…but where is the space? Where are the resources? Economists will tell you, people always fight over limited resources. It is very normal that the local people will petition their county over job allocations, tenders among other things. However, the constitution of Kenya, under the Bill of Rights, make it very clear…even as we praise our cultural heritages and diversities, as a people we must agree to share the existing resources equitably. If the government only appoints individuals from one or two ethnic groups then this shall create tension. If leaders believe that if you are in the ruling party is when you can get government contracts, then this is unti-constitutional. Remember that a leader is obligated to uphold the constitution…the failure to do so, should lead to abuse of power, and in normal circumstances, such leader, if found, must quit the job. In Kenya, no leader is ready to quit the job even over his or her dead body. Some have been forced to quit like Kazungu Kambi, but all the same, they still believe that they are the best to lead the society. The same Kenyan Parliament watered down the provisions on leadership and integrity to favour themselves…now what are we talking about? We are ruled by selfish and self-centered leaders who care less about the public interests.

  149. Aurelia Ochieng -k50/86952/2016

    I have also noticed that w have a government and president who cares so much about PR. an one of the tools of PR is publicity.and publicity either negative or positive,its still publicity.
    so our leaders have chosen to use hate speech to stay “relevant”.
    this means that,they do and say what they say,get people talking and in the end,they get popularity.after all,in Kenya even a toddler knows “kukula nyama”
    and they also ride on the law that says that you can apologise for what you said.

  150. [K50/88708/2016]After careful scrutiny of the above blog and study on the various schools of thoughts in regards to language and ethics, no better event than yester night’s USA vice presidential debate, brings to fore the modern day conflict of understanding. Either of the candidates between Governor Mike Pence and Senator Tim Kaine could be said to have won the debate. A closer look at the contestants reveals the extent of institutional influence on their stands and choice of language.
    Whereas the Democratic Party’s Sen. Tim Kaine demonstrated a lot of restraint and calmness in his demeanor and tone, the Republican Party’s Sen. Mike Pence was flustered and did not shy away from using disrespectful words whilst lying openly about well-known facts. With this blog piece I intend to interrogate the role of social inculcation and ascription in shaping the stands and choice of communication style.
    In the VP debate 2016, the issue of ethics, ethical language and ethical judgment kept springing up all across the debate. Whereas our reference author; Wittgenstein is commonly associated with the rule following school of thought when it comes to language and law, he has been invariably quoted to advocate for open-meaning approach to use of words. This is to say Gov. Mike Pence who is Donald Trump’s running mate has a right to defend the vilification of the Republican candidate by opting to invoke the relevancy and contextuality of their choice of language.
    Pence, at one point rubbished his opponent’s argument as ‘nonsense’ and went ahead to paint the Democratic nominee for president- Hillary Clinton as untrustworthy, indecisive and unfit for public leadership. Pundits may argue that to use such harsh language is ‘unpresidential’ in itself but a brief view into the history of Republican candidates, reveals a string of similar occurrences.
    The Republican Party which has for long been associated with hardline conservatism. It consists of men and women who do not embrace the aspect of the more the merrier and would prefer to keep the country from foreign influences internally and externally. They have rejected assimilation of refugees and immigrants, care more for American history more than the economy, love their guns and never shy away from displaying open racism in language and deed.
    The Democratic party on the other hand, have not only given America its first African-American president but is on the verge of gifting the USA its first Woman President. It has embraced cultural diversity, universal healthcare, reduction of troops abroad and a flurry of other progressive initiatives.
    Back to the debate, Sen. Tim Kaine once a civil rights lawyer naturally reverberates with the Democratic party’s mien. During the debate, he took the lead of incumbency and controlled the temperature of the debate leaving his opponent to throw wild punches in the air albeit with some hits. Sen. Kaine largely remained respectful in his delivery which cannot be said of Gov. Pence.
    Wittgenstein, on agreement says “In order for two people to understand each other, to speak a shared language consisting of words with agreed upon meanings, they must belong to a community consisting of what are in some sense like-minded individuals. Reasoning together, and indeed meaning anything by a word, is possible only against the backdrop of a great deal of agreement, including agreement about what matters. And we don’t reason our way into this agreement.”
    I choose to look at the two vis a vis their political social acculturation. When Bernie Sanders went head to head with Hillary Clinton in their final party debates, though heated, their debates kept to responsible exchanges. The same cannot be said of Donald Trump and say Marco Rubio.
    In closing, I opine that ethics in communication is subject to different interpretation. However, if humans have attained commonality of understanding in the fields of commerce, science and sports, then this must have happened through the use of agreeable communication. Language has the power to progress or regress. As much as the sender of the message has the right to define what he meant, that right should not be seen to infringe on the right of others.

    • I agree with you Malik on so many issues. It is great to look at the ideologies based on two factions: the conservatives and the democrats. The conservatives are not liberal while the democrats are liberals. The democrats promote change while the conservatives prefer the status quo. This works very well in the USA politics because the masses are educated to make their choice. There are liberal states and conservative states. In Kenya, unfortunately, our politics has not found its clear ideological avenue. Either it is on ethnicity, personality or patronage. Am not a political scientist but a do understand that Kenyan politicians are like political prostitutes. They can join whoever is in power in order to clinch some position or get prime jobs. Who does not know that when politicians shift political parties, it is not because they believe in what the party stands for. They do not think about the ideologies but immediate material needs. Am sure that our politics need reform and serious reform. The politicians who have no ideology for the nation ought to change the career. Kenya needs mature politics in order to achieve mature democracy…

  151. Agreed, Hon. kaparo and his team are merely replaying a script Kenyans are already used. he is merely playing self-preservation politics, however that is expected of him since he is a political appointee. However, its is interesting and indeed, intriguing that the media has not put him to task on what he specifically wants to do different from his predecessors. The media reportage of hate speech and especially kaparo’s response on the issue lacks journalistic depth and details necessary to promote national cohesion. As explained in Foundations of African Ethics and Professional Practice of journalism by Francis Kasoma “whether through interpersonal channels or through traditional media, communication is undertaken to solve communal problems rather than create them”, in my opinion the Kenyan media has not come out strongly to condemn and take a strong position on the matter due to vested interests.

    • Dear Mr. Mokaya, this is a great insight. I do agree with you. Media in Kenya has stopped being critical and radical on leaders. It is just enough to observe some of the talk shows in the public television channels. There are not hard questions put to leaders. It is as though, journalists fear putting leaders to task or they are not just properly informed. Am afraid that the Kenyan media may lose their reputation at some point. I know of radicalism associated with the media. When media allow such leaders like Hon. Kaparo to say what they want the public to hear, then media are just playing into the hands of politicians. During presidential debates almost 5 years ago in Kenya, I was tuned to the channel and I liked the sorts of questions journalists put the candidates through. It was for the public to decide who is fit to lead Kenya by listening to the debates. Such tough and hard language is missing in the media. According to you, how should the media in Kenya maintain their role and position in society? Can we get media that defend the rights of the public? Can we find media that is bold in informing the public correctly? Can the media regain the lost paradise, that is, the true media? There is no liberal media anymore and most of the work media do are on commercial purposes other than guiding the society towards values.

      • I totally agree that there is no free or liberal media in Kenya. As a matter of fact, the real question is whether or not a real media exists anywhere in the world or this has just been a fallacy that has been perpetuated for far too long. The media speaks the language of its owners. In Kenya’s case politicians either directly or indirectly own media houses. The media has been complacent in many ways given that commercial interests override public interest. There is also the small issue of corruption that has taken over almost all sectors of the economy; the media has not been spared either. The media in Kenya is a conveyor belt and practices the hypodermic needle theory in totality. The audiences in this country are not passive though their reactions do little to affect the crafters of messages and how they package them.

  152. Elizabeth Njuguna k50/87543/2016

    @Wamathu i totally agree with you that misuse of language can result into negative impact to the audiences.its is as a result of improper use of language that cases of crime have reported especially in our country.THE CHOICE OF LANGUAGE ONE USES DETERMINES THE LEVEL OF HOW ONE WANTS TO BE ADDRESSED.

  153. Joyce Chebet k50/88601/2016

    wamathu i agree with you in that, the Kenyan constitution provides for the freedom of the media but, the media practitioners are always censored hence, no freedom at all.

    Allow me to ask, what makes language hate speech?
    Hate speech in my view increases the incidence of violence and discrimination against the targeted group (s). If then we believe in the right to free speech (freedom of expression) what should we do when we learn that some instance of expression could potentially inspire others to do wrong. Otherwise the right to free speech as we know it and even uphold it in our constitution would swiftly disappear. So the question becomes: when should dangerous speech constitute a crime, and when should it not?
    Is hate speech intertwined to our fundamental interests that justify the right to free speech?
    Similarly, those who seek to ban hate speech cannot simply rest on the fact that the speech is low value and potentially inspires violence.
    According to an online journal I read on Free Speech Debate saying, “Expression can be dangerous, but that should not necessarily make it a crime by Jeffrey Howard”
    First, we should ask ourselves; do we trust the government to identify hate speech accurately? I think that the process of labeling speech as “hateful” is bound to be politicized, at least in part. Is it likely that government officials will get it right, or will they only criminalize the speech of groups they politically oppose, hateful or not?
    For example, the Government of Kenya has been arresting bloggers. Why? I dare say that the issue posted and christened as hate speech is just an expression of free speech.
    Second, even if hate speech has low value, might its free expression lead to speech of high value? Even if someone endorses some hateful creed today, it may simply be a step along a longer process of experimentation with ideas.
    By permitting bloggers to air their rage today, they may, in the long run, be more likely to make a journey to other ideas, tomorrow. Suppressing their speech may make matters worse. It may even serve to make hateful ideas more appealing, more subversive, and to ossify their identity as members of some hateful group.

  155. Loreen Nyawira Muriithi k50/87379/2016

    The issue of hate speech is very critical as it is elusive in our country. It is vitally necessary to first understand what defines hate speech. For a speech to be described as hateful there must be an overt, or sometimes subtle, beacon that reveals the intended outcome, which is to cause grievous harm to someone. This is where elusiveness creeps: the law must hear and come to a determination. There is also the law of public opinion. Generally, hate-filled messages are bad because they result to polarization which leads to violence. I do not support it. It should not be permitted! But the reason why it is thriving is because the court of public opinion, which is where politicians are tried, takes the day. The best way is to have a people who are smart enough to shut their ears to such statements and take the perpetrators to account. But we cannot have that if our lives are inundated by other intervening variables: poverty, greed, and need for power, among others. Bertrand Russel in his 1976 nobel prize acceptance speech said that power, greed, glory and vanity are human desires. Hate speech is therefore an outcome. A deliverable of human desires. The people are the ones to drive the final nail to the hate speech coffin. The courts are not able to do that; they have been tried and found unsuitable. However, for hate speech to be dealt with we must first solve the problems that predispose us this menace. Politicians use our weaknesses as interstices.

  156. Loreen Nyawira Muriithi k50/87379/2016

    The issue of hate speech is very critical as it is elusive in our country. It is vitally necessary to first understand what defines hate speech. For a speech to be described as hateful there must be an overt, or sometimes subtle, beacon that reveals the intended outcome, which is to cause grievous harm to someone. This is where elusiveness creeps: the law must hear and come to a determination. There is also the law of public opinion. Generally, hate-filled messages are bad because they result to polarization which leads to violence. I do not support it. It should not be permitted! But the reason why it is thriving is because the court of public opinion, which is where politicians are tried, takes the day. The best way is to have a people who are smart enough to shut their ears to such statements and take the perpetrators to account. But we cannot have that if our lives are inundated by other intervening variables: poverty, greed, and need for power, among others. Bertrand Russel in his 1952 nobel prize acceptance speech said that power, greed, glory and vanity are human desires. Hate speech is therefore an outcome. A deliverable of human desires. The people are the ones to drive the final nail to the hate speech coffin. The courts are not able to do that; they have been tried and found unsuitable. However, for hate speech to be dealt with we must first solve the problems that predispose us this menace. Politicians use our weaknesses as interstices.

  157. Political figures in public fora use language and imagery to persuade its audience. Nonetheless, it sometimes comes out derogatory or balanced. According to Walter Lippmann, emphasis on manufacture of consent and the arts of persuasion have always been popular methods of mass propaganda. The President may have used the analogy of ‘kula nyama’ because he knew that the Maasai love eating meat regardless of the socioeconomic status. As a result, he thought his message would resonate well with the crowd that had gathered for the funeral service. However Lippmann states that growth in circulation of the popular press, developments in advertising and the new media of moving pictures and the wireless, has decisively changed the ability of political leaders to manipulate public opinion as illustrated in the mass propaganda theory. Consequently, the opposing politicians twisted the phrase to disadvantage the speaker to mean enjoying the fruits of corruption between two communities while the rest of Kenya is salivating. This indicates that leaders must be careful in their utterances because they can’t change the public opinion as it used to happen decades ago. Besides, the President had to pull a public relations stunt by eating meat along Jogoo Road to show that his comments were misquoted. Therefore the theory of mass propaganda encourages self-consciousness among public speakers because none of us knows the knowledge to create consent and how it will alter every political calculation and modify every political premise.

  158. @catherine moni yah it is problematic to start charging bloggers for what they post on social media. If you open your twitter or Facebook go to a page known as , 90% of the comments are just insults KENYA POLITICAL FORUM, the page has about a million members, 75% of the comments there are insults, it then makes it very difficult to charge people involved in hate speech there due to the large numbers and also many users there use fake accounts. I think its just a matter of educating the masses on ethics. Maybe coming up with stringent laws on the use of social media and also charging some people MAYBE it may help these issues of online hate speech and cyber bullying.

    • I do agree with this notion Mr. Rajan. What is true is that when one has become a public figure then he or she must admit that some of his privacy rights shall be compromised. Being a public figure shall open one to public discussions and debate all over the world. Therefore, restricting discussions on public personalities is still problematic in the legal circles. The media doing the watchdog is also allowed to criticize and expose some government officials on matters concerning the public interest. The matter is how…the protonorm should be: the story must be true; the story must respect human dignity; the story must also adhere to the principles of professional ethics or code of ethics; and lastly, the story must be within the public interest. If the author can prove all the above mentioned items, then the issue of contravening the privacy rights is not an issue at all. Thanks for reminding us of this item in political career.

  159. By not using the right language is what i can term as hate speech.One has to focus on what language to use when addressing the public and the right language will never annoy people.For example a report by European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia in May 2002,accused the British mainstream media of using damaging steriotypes of Muslims and portraying asylum seekers as terrorists and the enemy.This information may have annoyed the Muslim family.Therefore, media should ensure that whatever they air or broadcast should not harm the public.

  160. Mwalimu, Its very important to have a prepared speech. How you use your language is vital especially for politicians. Interestingly today, Governor Kidero made some of the cuff remarks and I quote, “We are definite and confident that you will be with us in 2017.” The president in turn said, “And i look forward, majaliwa ya mwenyezimungu na maombi ya kidero kuwa tutakuwa hapa na nyinyi 2017 asante sana.” The way you craft the message is very important. We know Kidero supports the opposition leader Raila but in today’s remark because he didn’t have a speech, he blundered the way he used the language, which means that He was implying to the people that Uhuru will still be President come 2017 and will attend the ASK Show. And then Kidero realized that he made a mistake so 30 minutes later he just posted a tweet saying, “Just to be clear, I was inviting H.E Uhuru Kenyatta to next year’s Nairobi Intl. Trade Fair since he’s a fairly successful dairy farmer.” However, the damaged has already been done. So we need to be very careful in delivering our msgs.

    • Not every person has the gift of oration. The best public speakers are very few in the world and they may not even necessarily need to be politicians. Some are even preachers. When it comes to individuals, I think, we can only debate on the communication skills that they may lack or possess. However, you are right, whoever runs for a leadership position may require some skills of the language. As much as we need a medical doctor or a lawyer, we also need an expert to be working on our language before we put everything out in public. It is for the need of effectiveness in communicating what one wants to say clearly according to the philosophy of language. Some people care less and they feel it is demeaning to train oneself to be an effective public speaker…but do you know what, they lose it all. It is in this sense, we find emotions and irrational utterances that can add to regret. Professionalism is required in any mass communication. Whoever wants to speak is free to do so, but must do it clearly.

    • @Zakheem It may not be always possible to have a prepared speech. Leaders are often called upon randomly to share a word or two in rallies/public forums. It is in these instances that irresponsible, reckless and more so irrelevant utterances are made. In Kenya, Funerals have become popular avenues for political battles and settling of scores.
      I do agree that leaders especially politicians need training in effective communication skills. They need to learn how to communicate ideas and pass across messages clearly. However we also need to ask ourselves if Kenyans are ready for such a change. It is undeniable that Kenyans thrive on such political banter and rhetoric. More often than not in political rallies, keen attention is paid to the political showdowns and not the actual issues that need to be addressed.

  161. If politicians won’t manage to test their words before releasing them,then they must stick to the style of hiring professionals to draft speeches for them.Also the media should consider the advantages and disadvantages of releasing any piece of information to the public.If the information is likely to cause more harm than good then there is no need of giving such information.Olpha Achoki

    • Achoki, the so called politicians are not super beings, they are just individuals like you and me. They belong to our society. They come from our communities and we know them. They also have their own limitations and difficulties. They are not born as leaders since this is a Republic not a Monarchy. What is of essence here is the question of language. Political career is all about leadership and how power is administered in a democratic set-up. What is your take on the quality of communication when it comes to a politician? You are suggesting they should hire professionals, who are the professionals? Are the politicians not professionals? Discuss more on these issues Mr. Achoki.

  162. Joyce, its so true. we could be having a constitution in place that gives us laws that should be followed to enhance the freedom of media but it is not fully implemented.
    why i argue that media does not have absolute freedom is based on the day todays happenings. For example recently a journalist was murdered in Mombasa after he published a certain information while another was taken to the CID offices for ‘further questioning’ in Nairobi. We have seen journalists demonstrate against the heavy fines and charges they face.
    we may not be in the era of heavy authoritarian regime but still not at liberty
    The other issue is purely on the media ownership. This determines what media can disseminate at any given time. There are a lot of restrictions.

  163. yes Achoki. we have spin doctors whose role is to advice the politicians on what to say when,where and how to say it. However i wonder if our politicians can follow that. Many times we see then having drafted speeches but they hardly use them.
    the media can come in handy by failing to give the hate mongers airtime

  164. In my opinion hate speech has made this country better. It has made the country realize our diversity in terms of culture tribe and race. I would like us to turn back to events of post election violence and the aftermath leading to the dramatic ICC cases. As a country we do not learn 100% from mistakes but somehow we get a thing or two right.
    After ICC I know now politicians are more careful of their speech and masses think twice before acting.

  165. As we focus on the importance on language in curbing hate speech, much focus also needs to be directed to the body mandated to fight hate mongers, that is the National Cohesion and Intergration Commission (NCIC). No one has ever been charged for hate speech in this country. NCIC has on various occasions failed to prosecute hate mongers. NCIC is a toothless dog that cannot charge any culprit. This body needs to be independent.

  166. As much as going through speeches is important in avoiding hate speech, I believe it is also important for public speakers to refrain from making off-the-cuffs remarks. Most of the time, public speakers tend to make such remarks that put them on the receiving end.

  167. The legislators in collaboration with the Attorney General’s office should ensure that they make watertight laws, clear and easy to interpretet. Because hate speech cases are being through out from courts on the technicality of law.

    Courts at times experience major challenges when it comes to the interpretation of the law, as at times the law is ambiguous. For example in Petition No 149 of 2015 [eKLR] Geoffrey Andare versus The Hon. Attorney General and others the Petitioner was successfully able to challenge the constitutionality of Section 29 of the Kenya Information and Communication Act, Cap 411A when he was charged with the offence of improper use of licensed telecommunication system contrary to section 29(b) of the Act. Earlier, 7th April, 2015 in Milimani Criminal Case No. 610 of 2015, Republic vs Geoffrey Andare, he had been accused that, through his Facebook account, posted grossly offensive electronic mail with regard to the complainant, a Mr. Titus Kuria, in which he stated that “you don’t have to sleep with the young vulnerable girls to award them opportunities to go to school, that is so wrong! Shame on you” knowing it to be false and with the intention of causing annoyance to the complainant.

    The petitioner was able to challenge this provision on two levels. He argued, first, that it is vague and over broad, and the words contained therein are not defined, therefore leaving room for various interpretations. Words such as ‘grossly offensive’, ‘indecent’ obscene’ or ‘menacing character’ Similarly, the court asked, who determines which message causes ‘annoyance’, ‘inconvenience’, ‘needless ‘anxiety’? Since no definition is offered in the Act, the meaning of these words is left to the subjective interpretation of the Court, which means that the words are so wide and vague that their meaning will depend on the subjective interpretation of each judicial officer seized of a matter. The judge ruled, ‘It is my view, therefore, that the provisions of section 29 are so vague, broad and uncertain that individuals do not know the parameters within which their communication falls, and the provisions therefore offend against the rule requiring certainty in legislation that creates criminal offences’.

  168. Any speech, gesture, conduct, writing or display which possibly incite people to violence or prejudicial action should be taken with absolute care. There are politicians in Kenya who openly relish the freedom to rain insults and profile others by appropriating to themselves the role of tribal and religious champions. This is evident in Kenya as we approach the 2017 elections. However, media should be able to shape the debate and ensure they are not used as a tool to communicate hate crimes. Media should also be seen to be fare and avoid favouritism, For example, in Rwanda, The media which was controlled by Hutu extremists who were constantly called the Tutsis (Iwenzi” meaning, “the cockroaches that have to be crushed” They were presented as a “minority, well – off and foreign.” Hence, nothing media could say was believed, at worst media was used to escalate the genocide.


  169. One thing that is clear,is that we never hold our leaders responsible for whatever they say when on the podium. In fact,it’s the audience that solocit hate speech from this ” leaders”. These is evident in leaders with tendencies of low emotional quotient( EQ).Such characters often than not appeal to the mass.  When you look keenly on the different public address forums our leaders have had, people will also request for such persons to talk. As they talk, the audience while cheer, others clap but a majority you’ll hear them say  “toboa!!! toboa!!! toboa!!! toboa!!! which encourages the characters.
    Behavior is situational and interesting enough, away from the mic and podium, this individuals are very sober. Given a written speech, they can rehearse and have an impressive public address. But that desire to deviate from the  throughly well researched written speech is catalyzed by the audience. I think the day we will hold leaders responsible for whatever they say whether positive or negative ,that’s the day the National Cohession and Intergration  Commission (NCIC)will have teeth to bite. It will be the end of hate mongers being escorted by their purported supporters to record statements.
    I think punitive precident should be set,one that will be seen as a landmark ruling to curb hate speech sickness.

  170. I want to agree that politicians should have speeches or at least they (politicians) should pre-read those speeches before speaking in public so that they remain on message.
    The incident that occurred yesterday at the Nairobi International Trade fair when Governor Kidero’s speech was misconstrued by some listeners as endorsing President Uhuru Kenyatta, is a perfect example on how Wittgenstein and other philosophers view how language relates to the minds of both the speaker and the interpreter. The listeners drew their own meaning from Kidero’s utterances. Such negligence use of language is what later turn to make people unhappy, anxious, and indeed desperate for meaning…

  171. Scolastica Kunyiha

    Journalists and bloggers have also come up with ways of spreading unverified information of prominent people with the cover ‘you hold a public office, your life is therefore public’. In the last one week, a blogger called a senior government official ‘murderer’. And when asked to apologize, his answer was ‘as a Kenyan citizen, I enjoy the right of speech. Am a journalist, I have the responsibility to share all information I have’. But the question that begs is, when did the media become the jury? When is a statement uttered by ‘journalists and bloggers’ stop being freedom of speech and became statements that can cause harm to not just an individual but an entire nation? The biggest challenge Kenya is facing at the moment is bloggers and how to tame hate speech on social media, by people who enjoy a large number of followers and are considered ‘credible sources of information’ by the online community.

    Scolastica Kunyiha

  172. In most African countries, hate mongers are treated with kid gloves. However, there countries where hate crime and their perpetuators are treated as enemies of the state. E.g. hate speech is prohibited by law in several jurisdictions such as Canada, France, the United Kingdom and South Africa. In the United Kingdom, Harry Taylor, an atheist who placed drawings satirizing Christianity and Islam in an airport prayer room, was convicted in April 2010 and given a six-month prison sentence. In South Africa, Julius Malema, the former ANC‟s Youth League leader was in 2011 convicted of hate speech for promoting the song, “Kill the Boer”. In France, right-wing politician Jean Marie Le Pen, runner-up in the 2002 presidential election, was in 2005 convicted of inciting racial hatred for comments made to Le Monde in 2003 about the consequences of Muslim immigration in France. As it evident in developing countries, hate crime is taken with utmost seriousness. However, in some countries, hate mongers are the puppets of the government of the day. Hence, when they release their venom, nothing serious is usually done.


  173. At the International level, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states that any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law (ICCPR, Article 20 (2). The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), Article 4 also provides for states to declare an offence punishable by law “all dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, incitement to racial discrimination acts of violence or incitement to such acts against any race or group of persons of another color or ethnic origin”. However, in Kenya, it is clear that, we are not taking seriously the effect of this hate speech. Political hate mongers have political alliances who are always out to protect their own not caring about the resultant effect on the common public.


  174. i agree with you ALPHA ACHOKI. the problem with most of the politicians is that they are not learned but they use the power of money to say anything they want instead of following or reading the speeches that they are given to present whenever they attend a meeting. for this case therefore they are suppose to stop being proud and using their ego for this would help end hate speech.

  175. K50/88698/2016
    Nahashon Kioko Mutunga
    Kenya media has totally lost focus on setting the agenda when it comes to hate speech. Politicians continue to insult each other through the media. No severe punishment has been meted to the reckless speakers. If the media takes a position in condemning hate speech, the politicians will in-turn stop the insults and hate speech. As We approach the electioneering period, alot of investors are scared by fearing to put in more investments due to past experiences whereby looting destruction of property is witnessed. Tourists numbers also drastically go down. Therefore the media should be in the forefront in championing drastic measures being meted on hate speech speakers.

    • @mutunga, my view on agenda setting on the part of the media is that, it is still setting the agenda, but the wrong one. As the media is the one determing what we the audience consume. Political speeches full of hate speech, bad music and movies full of obscene images. The media is out to make profits and therefore it will feed us on anything as long as it will benefit economically or politically where it needs to be protected from some forces.

  176. I agree with you Mwalimu that politicians are professionals but in the political field. They should seek advice from communication experts who know how to choose wisely the words to use. One can have a good command of language but without any useful message to deliver.

  177. @Achoki, most politicians do hire professional speech writers to effectively communicate the message they want to get across, because as we know, communication is a skill, and one acquired over time, with practice, I think that sometimes problems arise when they let themselves be carried away by emotions_This, in my opinion, can be avoided if they stick to what they prepared, and if there is a need to go off topic, they should critically consider the impact and implications there words may have

  178. I believe that the only way is the Media turning and holding the Judiciary into account for not prosecuting politicians who are not using proper mode of communication. For instance, Hon. Kaparo could have accused of hate speech and the Media could have used the law to follow up on this matter because apparently raising awareness does not have any effect. Kenyans are already marginalized and are used to such speeches and will only react for a short while.

  179. K50/87001/2016

    I believe that the only way is the Media turning and holding the Judiciary into account for not prosecuting politicians who are not using proper mode of communication. For instance, Hon. Kaparo could have accused of hate speech and the Media could have used the law to follow up on this matter because apparently raising awareness does not have any effect. Kenyans are already marginalized and are used to such speeches and will only react for a short while.

  180. As much as we might be blaming the media for propagating hate speech,lets also ask ourselves whether we are the ones who are making the media to give out what it is giving.The utilitarianism view society as a collection of individuals with diverse needs and wants.Is it possible that what the media is giving us is what we want to hear?. sometimes when the media sieves the kind of information it gives to the public,we are fast to make conclusions and say that there is no media freedom.

  181. The problem of hate speech cannot be handled single-handedly without involving gatekeepers other than the media. I think the role of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission of Kenya should be appreciated in taming ethnicity by making politicians to be directly responsible for what they say. This is to suggest that the language use in the public should be given a multisectoral approach to reduce negative impacts in the country.

  182. Using irrational and emotional utterances to the public can tell the intentions of the speaker as philosophers and psychologists had purported in the above article. For example what Raila told people in Kilifi county on Thursday that they should carry weapons and chase Isaac Hassan and team out of office. Again Kiraithe is said that he should not be arrested despite the utterances.Do you think Kiraite is right?

  183. Political parties in kenya should be made liable when politicians allied to their parties are involved in hate speech or acts of hate crime . This would ensure that the parties come up with rules that would tame their members. Because from history, there is a trend of the same politicians been involved in hate speech over and over again. For example Moses Kuria and waititu. Their political parties should be made liable or prosecuted together with them.

  184. K50/88164/2016
    In my view,politicians are in most cases driven by intent as they make their public utterances.According to Elspeth Tilley, a public communication ethics expert from Massey University,she proposed an ethical pyramid involving intent,means and ends,she argues that to become an ethical speaker,one has to begin with ethical intentions.My urgument is that most of our politicians usually have ill intentions or motives that are selfish with no consideration to the consequences of their utterances on the public.They are concerned with achieving their desired ends.For example,Uasi Ngishu governor Jackson Mandago makes inflammatory statements regarding the appointment of Prof Laban Ayiro for the position of acting Vice Chancellor position of Moi University.He even further says ”kwendeni huko ”showing how much he did not care about his utterances as long as he pushes for the appointment of someone from his ethnic block hence achieving his end on the issue.Therefore for most of our politicians,the question of ethical speaking is usually not in their minds as they make public speeches.

  185. K50/87448/2016

    Just this morning I thought of a common cliche “loose lips sink big ships” and I thought of one Israeli Premier who was quoted saying “We declare openly that the Arabs have no right to settle on even one centimeter of Eretz Israel… Force is all they do or ever will understand. We shall use the ultimate force until the Palestinians come crawling to us on all fours.” Rafael Eitan, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces – ad Becker, Yediot Ahronot 13 April 1983. Rafael Eitan would later become haunted by this statement as some Palestine extremists would take up arms against the Israelis bordering Palestine. And the outcome? Massive deaths on both sides.A spate of inflammatory statements from Kenya’s politicians is making an already-tense political environment even worse. It doesn’t matter from which political divide you come from but truth is Kenya may burn again if these sharp tongues are not tamed. We lack proper systems or people to monitor and investigate hate speech and hence taming the loose tongues of the politicians has been a major challenge. In deed it was a surprise that the “Muthaiga” six were led out on bail. But what worries most is the fact that the prosecution did shoddy work as the judges later said and arrested the CORD leaders Junet Mohammed and Joshua Muthama unfairly without concrete evidence to cover up for the Jubilee’s side whose leaders had gone on record to perpetrate hate specifically when Nakuru lawmaker Kimani Ngunjiri went on record urging the luos to be flushed out of the Rift Valley.


    Political stories are mainly composed of opposing ideas; they present an ethical dilemma to any media house. Sometimes, as a gatekeeper, choosing what to report is a big challenge. The electioneering year is around the corner in Kenya. Many politicians will find themselves entangled in the world of hate speech.There will be heated debates on who is telling the truth. Whereas the politicians will say anything rhetoric to persuade voters, on the other hand reporters will be working very hard to present the truth to the public. I argue that it is very difficult to be objective in telling political stories. Unfortunately the Media have been used in the past to escalate political temperatures along tribal lines. It is the business of the Media to realize that Kenya is bigger than any politician. Therefore, it is the high time the media should STOP covering hate speech in the name of news.

  187. Professionalism is not the solution to countering hate speech in Kenya. Kenya’s political landscape is inherently antagonistic. Gentlemen rarely survive this terrain for long. That said, we should not relent on pursuing what is noble and true. Our social fabric beginning with the family unit needs reconstruction. The winning requirements for a political position should be revised to do away with the competitiveness which arises conflict.

  188. “A young man is not equipped to be a student of politics for he has no experience in the actions which life demands of him and these actions form the basis of the subject matter of discussion.” These are the words of Aristotle in his book ‘Ethics’ He adds that young people usually act based on their emotions rather than reason. Throwing my weight behind Aristotle on this matter, I hold that politicians ought to be grown up men, who have experience in life. Such experience will teach politicians to be careful in every statement that they make. Young doesn’t necessarily refer to physical age but experience. Mature people will understand the impact of hate speech on the intended or unintended audience. Most politicians today in Kenya and elsewhere seem to be perpetually ‘young’ in the ways of life and thus incapable of basing their action on reason. The Trumps and Muthamas, the Durtetes and Kurias of this world ought to prove to us that they are not young in the definition of Aristotle.
    My humble opinion is that the public be educated on matters of ethics, especially on election of leaders in democracies. Those with ambitions of holding political office must convince the electorate that they are experienced in matters of life before they are elected into office.

  189. K50/87448/2016
    It’s claimed that leaders don’t go through their speeches before taking them to their audiences, well this could be one reason that contributes to hate speech but I think hate speech is simply what leaders think it sells to the electorate. On the other hand the electorate provides a productive ground for germination of the hate remarks. They will always applaud a leader who attacks other communities and will be seen as a “cult hero” of that community. In fact many leaders have build their political careers spewing hate remarks. What need to be done is limit freedom of expression through bills that restrict what they say.

  190. “A young man is not equipped to be a student of politics for he has no experience in the actions which life demands of him and these actions form the basis of the subject matter of discussion.” These are the words of Aristotle in his book ‘Ethics’ He adds that young people usually act based on their emotions rather than reason. Throwing my weight behind Aristotle on this matter, I hold that politicians ought to be grown up men, who have experience in life. Such experience will teach politicians to be careful in every statement that they make. Young doesn’t necessarily refer to physical age but experience. Mature people will understand the impact of hate speech on the intended or unintended audience. Most politicians today in Kenya and elsewhere seem to be perpetually ‘young’ in the ways of life and thus incapable of basing their action on reason. The Trumps and Muthamas, the Durtetes and Kurias of this world ought to prove to the public that they are not young in the definition of Aristotle.
    My humble opinion is that the public be educated on matters of ethics, especially on election of leaders in democracies. Those with ambitions of holding political office must convince the electorate that they are experienced in matters of life before they are elected into office.

  191. I have argued here earlier that money is the real poison behind all the filth we get in the name of hate speech. Perhaps Donald Trump would be more courteous with words if he had just a modest amount of money. Elsewhere, statistics have shown that the rich easily find their way into politics and in Kenya for instance, people tend to love politicians for their wealth and the more abusive statements they make. Disgruntled ordinary people would really wish to abuse those in power who they perceive to be the problem behind their woes but cannot do so because they can’t afford the cost of court battles. It is their lack of money that apparently holds them back. Money is important but when it becomes the only important thing then ethics are tossed out of the window. There’s need to stop embracing the consequentialist “the End justifies the means” aphorism.

  192. I keep referring to Kenyan media houses in terms of sacrificing their core duties to focusing entirely on revenue generation at the expense of National cohesion. Take for instance whenever a politician spews an utterance that is divisive and reeks of nothing other than hate speech, it will be given a headliner spot in the broadcast news and even headline spots on Newspapers.
    What does this say about how we as communicators view such utterances? Are they things that we have to keep repeating over and over so that they become household utterances among wananchi or do we rebuke them?
    Do we make political satire out of such utterances as we look ratings so that we can chest thump and say “my bulletin was trending last night”

    It is very important that a clear line is drawn on such utterances and self regulation standards are put into place to ensure that those who propagate utterances that have potential to cause divisions between wananchi are put to account. Otherwise4 the same media that is viewed as the source of information for the public might just end up as the propagator of hatespeech that has been seen in other countries and even our own particularly during the 2007 bungles elections.

    • Hello Sheila, I fully agree with your observations on the role of media in rampant hate speech and hate crime in Kenya today. I do believe that media have a big role to play. The major role is not only to inform and disseminate information but also to guide the society towards certain values. How could this be done Sheila? Remember that the best type of communication is to narrate stories. People learn faster when they listen to true stories. The story must also be factual and related to national myths. For instance, when Kenyans fought in 2007/8, the so called PEV has left some wounds in the hearts of so many. There was use of hate speech by politicians. Still such politicians have not learned anything from the PEV and hate crime is yet from over. But who has ever told a story of the PEV that educates the masses? Whatever has been put out there do not depict the real picture of the Kenyan society. As much as we tend to blame politicians on their failure, we need also to admit that our journalists are not doing the job. Reporting such utterances could be effort in futility and not reporting them can equally be an act of omission by the media. What is subject to debate is, how to come up with indirect mechanism of educating the masses through factual story telling. You know that Nigerians fought Biafra war that lasted 3 years (1967-1970). Biafra war has been narrated in movies, story books, performed art, music and no Nigerian today would support civil warfare after the Biafra lost. Kenyans fought only for less than 3 months but the damages caused have since been forgotten. This is why it is easier for leaders to repeat the past errors. Sheila media in Kenya must take some serious precautions and play their role in shaping the society through effective and meaningful story telling. Such stories must include the values many Kenyans uphold such as peace, love and unity. Such stories must guide us to the Kenyan myth. Right now there is nothing like the Kenyan myth and this seems to be the weakest point of our society…the media can take a lead in educating masses in the Kenyan core values, culture, heritages in a manner that any contrary behaviour will stand rejected…it is in this manner, the hate mongers will not find their product sell-able to Kenyans. Their supporters will differ with them…

  193. Muno Mohamed Gedi

    I think the one technique is the media taking and making decision of the judge into story for not accusing candidates who are not by good manner of communication. For example in my country, always the big politician influence and have respondent of bad speech and used cheap expression without suitable, by the way the Media house could have used rules to keep up on this matter because the media house only focus increase to used of speeches but does not have any conclusion. Somalia are mostly misuse of speeches and take short emotional.

  194. K50/89019/2016
    Some Political parties in Somali made joined and allied to oppose the governing party,
    Political parties are involved in many hate speeches or implement bad statement to pressure government, however, they made more speech but not value because Some Political parties are only busy denouncing the government through media house so far that action making hate expression for instance daljir and kulan. Their political parties should be accused together with the ruling party.

    • Thank you Mr. Gedi. I like your insights on political parties. In a democracy, there is only one party or a coalition of parties ruling at one given time. The other parties tend to perform the opposition role. This is perfectly democratic since the government may deploy excesses of power and do the wrong thing. The opposition plays a major role of checking the powers of the state and even keeping it on its toes. Remember when in Kenya CORD talked of Eurobond and other problems such as corruption in the NYS, the government resisted but the truth came out. So the role of the opposition is critical in any democracy. When the opposition is weak, the parties in government will always tend to abuse power.

  195. K50/87448/2016
    Allow me to respond to Sheila Mulinya’s post of Saturday 8th October 2016 that media are to blame for continued hate utterances by the political class. I strongly disagree with this. Remember various journalists are informed by various theories governing matters of professional ethics. I wish to borrow Immanuel Kant’s theory-deontology which states that it’s only the motives of the person who carries out the actions that matters how right someone is rather than the consequences of actions that qualify them to be right.

  196. K50/87448/2016
    Allow me to respond to Sheila Mulinya’s post of Saturday 8th October 2016 that media is to blame for continued hate utterances by our political class. I strongly disagree on this. Remember various journalists are informed by various theories governing matters ethics. I wish to borrow Immanuel Kant’s theory-deontology which states that it’s only the motives of the person who carries out the actions that matters how right someone is rather than the consequences of actions that make them right. So some of the journalists who report hate speech do so with the intention of informing the public of the rot that’s perpetrated by the political class. My question is should they just keep quiet in the wake of such statements or should they make us know about them? What’s is their duty according to deontology? I think to me the means justify the ends and we should keep on reporting hate remarks through media so that the institutions tasked with dealing with such issues can act,we do no wrong by exposing them. If we keep quiet then Kenyans will kill each other in silence as they will act on the words of their political leaders more so those done in vernacular.

    • Sheila will be able to respond to your comment on her comment. Thanks.

  197. I have bean reading and following the story as it develops, one thing that is going to be unfortunate is the courts are used to sanitize the utterance.In a way it is encouraging since defamation through hate speech has become too common.
    Secondly, the defendant is banking on freedom of expression and his life being threatened, are what led to him publishing the remarks. These are just excuses because the “truth” hasn’t been ascertained.
    Thirdly, the accuser appears to be biased since the blogger wasn’t the first one to make that remark. Hon. Jirongo made the accusations slightly some 4 months ago but no legal action was taken.
    I think, if the plaintiff sought legal redress then, it would have deterred even the defendant from publishing the same.

    • Thanks so much for tackling the intricate discussion on Defamation and its elements. We will soon get there. Defamation is a tort offense and the burden of proof lies with the complainant or the plaintiff in civil procedures. It is the person feeling offended to take legal action against the author of defamatory speech. However, he must prove with proponderance of evidence that what was said was actually, within the meaning of the word, defamatory. There must be also the question of malice aforethought, intention, nature of defamation as per se and per quod, and most importantly, the accuser must also prove that necessary elements of defamation were contained in the speech. Usually, politicians are allowed to speak openly and say what would be termed as the truth. In addition, politicians also must speak in the best interest of the people and if what they said was in the best interest of the people that they lead, then the question of defamation may be watered down.

  198. Monica i agree with you. The media owners are entrepreneurs who are out there to earn big profits. They are not so keen on the use of language in their media houses. After all what do they understand about the 25 or so journalistic code of ethics. I think the Ole Kaparo and his team should focus more on the media owners. That way they will discourage the hate speech in their stations

    The nature of the political system in Kenya is what encourages hate speech. While ideally it should be pegged on topical issues concerning the country, politicians have learnt that Kenyans are more interested in individuals. With individualism comes the need to outshine and gain popularity. The success of this has been measured by the election of questionable leaders, year in and out.

  200. K50/87567/2016
    I totally agree that many people especially politicians have been using defamatory words in the public and hence creating a lot of hate among different ethnic communities. According to me,most of them involve themselves in hate speech to drive their own agenda and gain mileage in the public.
    As far as many fault the media for carrying out these stories,i believe the media has a role of informing its audience. I think it is good when the facts of a story are published just as they are.That way the public gets to know the facts as they were. on the commercial aspect, i think bad news sell

  201. I agree with your continents that meanings belong to then people and are culturally based. However, politicians tend to hind in their native language while making defamatory remarks and later claim they were misunderstood. A recent case of Mose Kuria who while speaking in his mother tongue claimed that the leader of opposition should be shot and his followers would demonstrate for one week and be silent. This was outright hate speech however he claimed to have been misunderstood.
    Our legal systems is a let down to Kenya. While the burden of proof lies with the accuser, some of the cases have sufficient evidence where the case ought to be determined as soon as possible

    • Thanking you all for quite incisive input in this very emotive discussion. I have learnt a lot. I wish to throw a spanner into the works by asking us to focus on our individual selves for a moment. Have we taken the VCT? The Voluntary Check on Tribalism? we are so quick to vilify the politicians and blame them for all the woes afflicting our country forgetting that we voted them in, we pressure them for favors, we applaud them when they sing war songs and we silently cheer them on when they pretend to speak for “their’ people while propagating hate speech.

      I contend that the rot in the society begins with me and you. It is we who define the perimeter of play for politics. it is our tolerance of the lack of it therefore that allows good to prevail or bad to exist. If we petitioned, sued and pressured the politicians to drop primitive communication and stop perpetuating division, then we would have begun travelling the right path.

      Yester night’s US presidential debate brought to fore the deep seated animosity that exist between the Democrats and the Republicans. A lot of communication exchanged between Trump and Hillary can be termed as inciting, dividing and crude. There also emerged a new form of intimidation in this campaign with Trump pacing the podium physically intimidating Hillary while threatening her with jail if he became president.

      We the people; teachers, farmers, scholars, students, preachers, touts, etc have the collective power to reverse the negative trend that politics has taken by saying no to hate speech and negative stereotyping. legal means and the interpretation of the law are not adequate to counter hate speech but they serve as a good deterrent.

  202. On the meaning attached by the diverse audience I would suggest that our politicians should always be subjected to a public speaking class. This will help to reduce the cases of careless utterances that are made from time to time. I know this can be possible. Every new MP undergoes the equipinh classes at the Kenya School of government. I suggest thay this should be made mandatory also

  203. K50/87083/2016
    Indeed a Politician language can break or make a nation, as experienced in the 2007/2008 elections, hate speech and utterances made in public almost brought Kenya to its knees.I also tend to think some Politicians make certain comments so as to gain notoriety, as they say, their is no such thing as bad publicity.Certain individuals the likes of Moses Kuria , Johnson Muthama etc thrive on constant attention and some remarks are made so as to keep the said individuals front and centre of current debate.Their utterances are mainly meant to provoke debate not necessarily with any agenda behind it.

  204. Our political leaders have capitalized on the ignorance of the masses. They always hide behind ”my communities” once they are called upon to account for their bad deeds. Our communities must stop offering politicians support to such people once they are called to account for their bad actions. Indeed we have seen cases where politicians hide behind their communities once they are taken to court to account for hate crime. Interestingly, the masses flock court rooms to show solidarity with such politicians. Conversely, mature democracy such as USA will not condone such behavior and will disown you. A good example is how Donald Trump has lost considerable support and ground after it emerged that he had used lewd and vulgar language to describe the female gender. This is the way it should be. There should be nothing like “my community’ when one is called to account. Just like the phoenix, Kenya is slowly emerging out of this kind of politics albeit slowly. There is a new class of masses who have refused to be used as shield for such behavior. That means that there is hope.


  205. K50/87083/2016
    I agree with Geoffrey, that we could also have Politicians undergo public speaking classes , though i tend to think that even before such is put to place. The politicians should really consider that which they share to the masses and not to use words that could harm others, as Mwalimu puts it, Under the law of tort we are all bound to consider our duty to take care of others.

    • IEBC Act should be amended to put a requirement that whoever is seeking an elective position must acquire at least some certificate in communication skills – including media law and ethics. Am looking forward to seeing such law in place in Kenya. I agree with your insight @lizmuli16@gmail.com

      • I think we should start from primary school to teach our children on basic life skills like communication,mannerism and etiquette.This will then be skills that they will use once they are adults and in position of leadership.I also feel the judiciary needs to come up with ways of dealing with hate speech.The judiciary is still timid and manipulated to jail politicians appearing before the courts.When one or two politicians are jailed for hate speech ,then that is when the rest will learn a lesson and refrain.we are yet so see one politician behind bar for hate speech!

  206. I totally agree, politicians are using hate speech and ethnicity as their campaign tools, this is wrong as it leads to divisions among people of different tribes

    • Thanks Judith. I also blame the perpetuation of hate speech on poor jurisprudence on the defamation and other tort offenses in Kenya. Law enforcers also share a big portion in this dysfunctional end of public speaking.

  207. Wendy Nashipae Kantai

    Well, It all seems to be a messy situation when it comes to identifying an open speech and a defaming one. But quite frankly if there is no system, if there are no clear rules with clear consequences. Then the solution here is simply, do not fight it. If defamed play the ‘good guy’ card. Kenny Rogers sung ‘you don’t have to fight to be a man’ well this legend has a point. If you try and fight with this corrupt system, you will end up loosing more, consider the funds and time. If you have the power to be more corrupt than who you are suing then go ahead. If you don’t have money and the time, my friend turn the other cheek and hope someone recognizes how good you are. Also if you have media friends who could put up a story in your favor then you are good to go. In my opinion it is more practical.

    • Wendy, this is a very interesting comment you are making. Exactly, we must uphold the rule of law, constitutionalism and human rights. When we lack such laws in place, then we cannot claim the rule of law.

  208. Fidelys Resian Topoti

    I also agree that the legal system in Kenya has failed the nation.Most of the cases on hate speech against our politicians are dropped due to lack of evidence.The office of the Director of Public Prosecution need to wake up and ensure seriousness is accorded such cases since they can lead to country to war.An example is on the latest case pitting Ferdinand Waititu and a host of other legislators where the presiding judge threatened to end the case as the prosecution kept asking for more time to gather evidence.The office of Keriako Tobiko needs to get serious with their work!

    • You are very right Resian. I am of the opinion that our law makers (Legislators) are sleeping on the job. The Defamation Act No. 11 of 1992 is poorly done. It has only 20 Articles which are superficial. May be the politicians tend to justify themselves by weakening the law. May be they know what is expected of them and they try to water it down as they had done with Chapter 6 of the Constitution on leadership and integrity. Politicians have vested interest whenever they make our laws. The Courts shall always apply the law and abide by the case law. The DPP has no otherwise but to rely on the strength of the investigations done by police forces. Mr. Tobiko cannot create his own evidence or make law. He must rely on the reliability of evidence provided in order to proceed with the prosecution.

  209. I would like to play the devil’s advocate here and defend politicians.Media houses have lost focus of what is important and dwelt on sideshows.Having worked in one of the major newspapers in the country,i was always dissapointed to the read or watch the days news.Prominence was always given to politicians who make the most noise,utter the most unprintable words or abuse each other.Those were the stories that made headlines.And the next day would also follow up on the same stories.Most stories that would either not see the light of day or used as a filler would be stories on health,innovation or budget which would otherwise be good stories for the public.Politicians on the other hand have realised that unless they make those controversial statements,they will not be covered by the media.After-all,media sets the agenda.I have attended many retreats where journalists are invited to speak to politicians.The question the politicians always ask them is why some politicians get coverage more than others.The answer they receive is because those who are never covered lack the punchline!!!!!They don’t make controversial statements that’s why they are never covered.Naturally politicians love coverage and since they know the only way to get covered is by making atrocious statements ,then they do it.Gatundu MP Moses Kuria has become famous for his hate speech utterances because the media has given him the platform to spew abuses and utterances which are bordering on hate speech.

    • In the theory of media, conflict is one of the areas that have been discussed in-depth by experts. Media usually prefer conflict stories than news and factual stories. Not that such fact based stories are bad in themselves. Get me right. It is a question of our psyche. We tend to go for conflicts, violence and stories that put us on nerves. Journalists also tend to trade on this in order to sell their stories. Who does not know that reporters will always go for a public speaker with loose tongue? Who does not know that Media are friendly to open and liberal speakers even if they are narrating nonsense and hate stories? This part I leave it for your digestion…! As much as we insist on journalism ethics we must also be prudent. Market economy is the spoiler. At the end of the day each one of us will make an economic question, how much have I made today? It is profitability and as so long as the audience prefer such conflict stories, journalists shall tend to dance according to the tune of the customer. The customer satisfaction principle is what sometimes guide the quality of reporting. The same to the concept of “News”. What is news? Our attention is always tuned to discovering what is new and extraordinary rather than what is familiar, worth-knowing, and of essence. Please try to carry on with your argument. It is very interesting

    • I agree with you on the point of the media houses losing focus. In my opinion, this has come about because of two reasons.

      first, the audience demand, people are interested in controversial-non factual kind of stories.

      second, competition from new media which is able to attract a large following by publishing uncensored news. This have become a threat to the main media and have affected the revenue generated by this houses. To keep the audience the main stream media has to change its way of doing things and hence loss of focus.

    • I defend the editors. Remember the journalism maxim — if it bleeds it leads. The papers are definitely giving the readers what they want, otherwise they would be out of business by now. They have to give readers what they want so that circulation figures are strong — and hence attract advertisement.
      To extrapolate this to the blogosphere, it is the gossip blogs that generate more traffic (and are better known), hence advertisement. Blogs about development and other serious issues that affect society always struggle to get attention.

    • Ruth Olendo K50/86905/2016

      I agree with you on this front Lucianne. Media has made hate speech appealing and politicians know that for them to make news especially during an election period they have to get controversial. How best to do this? Spew words that will go well with their electorates and off course ignite an uproar in the other camp. We will see a lot of this as the country prepares for election. My concern is how come the law does not step in? Is it that hate speech as a crime is difficult to justify? Are our laws weak?

  210. @Malick, I concur with you. It is said we be the change we want. This begins with you and me. However, how often are courageous to condemn our political kingpins when they engage in hate speech? Itis only hhate speech when the other kingpin has spoken it but never when its ‘our man/woman’. Intellectuals are never left out in this. We all tend to forget our values for selfish gain that our people will support us once in power. Its a challenge to me and you to be agents of change

  211. Anne Kaee k50/86624/2016

    The Kenya National Cohesion and integration commission has always complained that it lacks powers to prosecute individuals who propagate hate speech across the country. These include politicians, church leaders and even government officials. The commission has always had evidence which when presented to the director of Public prosecution is not actively acted upon. This sends a wrong message as the guilty persons know that no charges can be pressed against them for committing such crime, making hate speech look as though it is the normal order of the day and not a serious crime that can land one in jail.

  212. In terms of Hate speech and defamation I feel that they go together. Hate speech which involves utterances that can incite people and cause divisions can become defamatory when it touches on the repute of an individual in a way that is injurious to their person and end up affecting those it’s targeted at.

    Defamatory exclamations can end up in court as civil proceedings with a plaintiff seeking damages.

    This takes me to the local dailies. They have been sued for libel because of publishing defamatory exclamations that were injurious to those who sued them.

    This law is in place to protect the interests of the public and also to regulate the press so they observe a code within their professional dispensation.

    My issue is these dailies are owned by individuals with financial might. In instances where a person of low means is affected, would we say they will get their fair share of hearing and even a ruling that will compensate them of the pain afflicted by defamation?

  213. Kenya still has a long way to go in making our justice and legal systems independent despite being so on paper. many hate speech cases have either been dropped or subjected to low fines which the perpetrators comfortably pay and walk free. It is worrying that our politicians have continuously subjected Kenyans to hate speech with their careless choice of words.
    When several politicians were locked up at Pangani police station for alleged hate speech, they quickly became friends and showed solidarity on each other including having a meals together after they were set free. Kenyans continue to hate each other or even kill fellow Kenyans as a result of messages passed to them by politicians while on the other end the same politicians are feasting together what a pity

  214. If i may ask are the politicians the only people who use hate speech? If not who else?

    • @Joyce ,in response to your question is that not only politicians are victims of hate speech or hate crime but also we as members of public. Any form of discrimination either by racism, xenophobia, sexual orientation, religious intolerance, group disability and many others of which do happen amongst us leads to hate crime or speech. If there are convictions and measures of dimensions of the problem.

  215. The government need to put in place more stringent laws on hate speech so that perpetrators of such crimes are able to face the full force of law. it is saddening to see politicians go scout free after comitting such offences Being the leaders that lKenyans look up to it sets bad presidence. Political leaders as well as other leaders should be take responsibility of words uttered in bad taste

  216. The law of defamation in Kenya is very clear, but it has its shortcomings. Even where such defamation is in writing/published -libel, the law in section 7A provides that all persons are entitled to a right of reply to any inaccuracy effecting them published in a newspapers which is damaging to character or reputation.

    This section further states that if such occurs a correction be printed in the next possible edition of the newspaper.

    This may sound very good, but the issue is, THE DAMAGE IS ALREADY DONE. Suppose those who read the newspaper yesterday carrying a defamatory statements are not able to access the newspaper with the corrections, what happens? Most corrections are usually printed in small spaces where few people care to look at them.

  217. JUDITH OPENDA K50/88332/2016
    The judiciary system have to demonstrate a balancing act as they detemine the boundary between an individual’s right to voicing their own opinion and protecting community interests and deterring hate crimes. Our politicians are graduates of the school of ad hominem reasoning where they tend to attack the character or attribute of the person making the argument as opposed to attacking the substance of the argument itself. Unfortunately the masses have been relegated to spectators of a boxing match cheering from the side lines at the politician who delivers the hardest punch.

  218. Hate speech has constantly been witnessed in the kenyan media especially when we approach an election year. The grievances revolve around land, employment and access to the material benefits of political office. Criminal gangs or unemployed youths are often used to intimidate opponents and evict their supporters from areas the politicians claim to be theirs. If the government doesn’t intervene , we shall continue to witness ugly incidences as witnessed before.

  219. Ava DuVernay’s documentary is a classic example of the politics of information, the one with the power controls the narrative. Many historical narratives that we consider factual are either blatantly falsified or sanitized and so the onus of truth seeking rests on the curious mind.

    I think its high time that the media’s freedom is restricted.I agree with Erick Barents sentiments that the regulation of the press and broadcasting media has been the responsibility of nation states so that citizens are saved the trouble of opinionated or falsified information from media.

  220. When hate crime causes harm to people, the Kenyan Penal code and criminal procedures act provides for imposition of penalty as retribution for such offenses. I wonder why the statement by head of state on ‘eating meat while
    they salivate’ went unpunished. Could it be that the statement did not cause any psychological damage to the audience, could it have had a different meaning that is not punishable in law?

  221. Kioko Mutunga
    Dear simon as i also agree with you on the issue of liberal Media in Kenya due to ownership, my question would be – Should politicians be the agenda setters in Kenya or should it be the media?. If the media is critical enough, then politicians will cease to be the agenda setters.

  222. Mwalimu, The media we have is more interested in profit maximization rather than playing the watchdog role, informing, educating the public role. The media tend to look for stories that sell their media houses, eg Hate speech stories since that is what the wananchi want to hear also. In the end these stories whenever published or aired for instance the Moses Kuria incident will bring more harm than good when he said that CORD leader, Raila Odinga, can also be shot dead. I wish our our editors would weigh these stories before publishing them, I wish they think of the consequences of the stories before being relayed to the public.

  223. K50/89045/2016
    In this day and age all the politicians do is have their eyes on the mantle. They will say whatever they’ll have to say to win or remain in power. They are not so keen on their language use and the effect of their words on the receiver or the targeted audience. What’s funny is that the same politicians retaliate hate speech with hate speech. Yet they are our leaders and are supposed to be acting that part. They go to heights of using defamatory language so as to persuade the voters.
    However, as much we can sit all day and point fingers at our politicians the media plays a key role in encouraging the use of hate speech by our politicians. The mainstream media packages and disseminates news that provoke hate speech in our politicians. Making this hate speech vice seem like a game. I propose the media should be controlled when it comes to airing the hate speech and defamatory stories. This would to some extend control the use of hate speech in increasing the political temperatures and the tribalism levels in the country.

  224. In the recent past, politicians in the North rift have taken advantage of power struggles at Moi University to propagate hate speech knowing too well that due process was followed in that exercise. Even after recording statements with the criminal investigation department, the said leaders repeat the same crime simply because they are in the right political parties. It pays to be politically correct. Need I say more?

  225. Recently, High Court judge Roselyne Aburili awarded Justice Alnasir Visram
    Sh26 million following a defamation suit he filed against The Standard Group arising from his unsuccessful application for the position of Chief Justice in 2011. So public’s need to be very careful with their language because defamation cases attracts hefty fines.

  226. Sulea Naliaka Murambi

    Recently, Hon. Ferdinand Waititu and Hon. Moses Kuria were caught in hate words exchange on Facebook and they went to court. The court asked prosecution to bring forth witnesses, one of them being a police officer. The court was informed that the witnesses cannot be found; the police officer was up country on leave and his phone was off. The case had to be postponed until the witnesses are found.

    Prosecution in this case is seen to interfere with the legislation process, probably because the politicians involved have influenced the case. This is an example of how three arms of the government who are supposed to work together in fighting crime through hate speech have failed. In other cases we see bloggers like Robert Alai being taken to court and charged immediately such hate utterances are heard.

    Sulea Naliaka Murambi K50/87623/2016

  227. Chapter 4,freedom of expression, 33(2) The right to freedom of expression does not extend to- (a)propaganda for war (b)incitement to violence (c)hate speech (d)advocacy of hatred
    (3) In the exercise o the right to freedom of expression , every person shall respect the rights and reputation of others.
    Our 2010 Constitution is very clear on the limitations we have when expressing ourselves. I am a staunch believer of the Rule of law and I believe our Constitution is very progressive and the best Katiba in the world. If the Constitution is implemented as per the framers of the Constitution then I do not foresee any issues of Hate speech or incitement of violence.

  228. Sulea Naliaka Murambi

    Hon Joho, the Governor for Mombasa recently in a public rally called Nelson Marwa, the county coordinator a mere desk officer. These are our leaders who are supposed to preach national cohesion and lead by examples calling each other names on the dias.

    Such utterances are demeaning but unfortunately most of the times the judiciary does not pick them for prosecution.

    Sulea Naliaka Murambi K50/87623/2016

  229. The Courts make a determination based on the Constitution, the law and the evidences presented before it. If their is a weakness or a technicality in the prosecution then the case might be thrown out. So the justice system operates interdependent with other chains in the justice system eg, Judiciary, Prosecution, Police and others. So all these stakeholders need to work together, otherwise if their is a sabotage in any of them then the case might fail to continue or even collapse.

  230. On the other hand Politicians are like small gods in Kenya, they are worshiped and adore by wananchi. Moses Kuria and Senator Muthama are a casing point of that. During their hate speech case, the courts were filled with fellow politicians and followers (wananchi), who were advocating for their release. A speedy process of the case was then witnessed, and they were freed on bond. Many politicians have been taken to courts severally but to be released later. So our judicial system favors the rich. The laws in this country is like it was made for the poor. As Governor Kabogo would put it, We have the money, you can take us to court.

  231. Can someone make me understand why we do not have a successful prosecution of a hate speech monger especially a politician. I only know of two successful case of Dikembe Dose be and Allan Wadi who had no political backing. I long for the day the well connected, high and mighty/ monied will be sent to jail

    • Do you know that Allan Wadi was acquitted on appeal? Either our justice system if faulty or our laws are not watertight.

      What comes out clearly is that, there is ‘wenye-nchi’ (those who own the country) and ‘wananchi’ (the citizens). Politicians and the elite are the former where justice system works for them while the ordinary citizen is the latter, where the most justice they can get is from the area chief.

    • Geoffrey I think with money in the Kenyan courts, no case to answer. Many who are jailed are poor people with even petty cases than this rich people like politicians who spread hate speech.

  232. I do agree that the laws on defamation in our country are weak and need to be reviewed. @Zakheem Rajan you have cited a case where Justice Alnashir Visram was awarded 26 million after high Court judge Roselyne Aburili ruled in his favor in a defamation case that he (Alnashir) sued The Standard Group on the basis of defamation. My concern is, in this country justice is for the rich and the ‘Who is Who’ of this country. This judgment may have been influenced by external forces putting into consideration that the complainant is a colleague to the judge. Secondly, the amount awarded amounting to 26 million is ridiculous. That is a lot of money.

  233. Civil case 382 of 2004, Hon. Jakoyo midiwo (plaintif) vs ktn baraza ltd(2015), Midiwo alleged that 7pm news aired a defamatory msg,and i quote part of it in english though it was a Kiswahili bulletin, “Midiwo fights in bar”, the court awarded midiwo a global award of 2.5million. Now, I think we have a problem with our laws. We confuse with press freedom and defamation. There is need for our legislators to amend the law. Or is it a deliberate effort by these politicians such as Midiwo to have an inconsistency with our laws so as to GAG our media? for reasons best know to them such that the media does not report on them?

    • This is interesting Rajan. Is fighting in bar a defamation? The weakness of our laws is associated to underdeveloped jurisprudence and Defamation Act is one of the this type. The courts ride on the weak jurisprudence to make absurd rulings. Is there some falsehood statement in the alleged charge? If it is true that the complainant fought in a pub, then the falsehood is reduced.

  234. @Sulea Naliaka the judiciary does not have powers to prosecute unless cases are presented in court. In this case Nelson Marwa has not presented any complain before the corridors of justice. In addition, Governor Joho and Marwa have been at loggerheads for years attacking and defaming one another. If Marwa takes Joho to court for referring to him as a desk officer, Joho will find a case to counter that.

    • Being at loggerhead and defamation are different issues all together. Individuals can fight with words (cold war) but this may not entail defamation. Discuss more on this Mr. Bhalo.

  235. Let me reproduce the words as pleaded by plaintiff, Gem Member of Parliament JakoyoMidiwo was early this Morning involved in a fight in a bar. Midiwo is reported to have fought with a middle aged man over a woman.

    Boniface Opiyo who is 27 years old was hit with a bottle by an irate Midiwo after an argument….

    He is rubbing the public the wrong way again…..

    But at the Hotel different versions of the story emerged. It is alleged that the MP was accosted by Opiyo who wanted to know why Midiwo had been linked with the Koinange Street Saga……my view is that, this guy is a public official, so his life is public. The media is a mirror of the society, so i dont see any wrong for them doing this story because there is public interest in it. Media had also sued another media for dragging his name as the allegedly arrested following a swoop at Koinange street .for me that was a newsworthy story because we need to highlight those issue so that they stop. If our MPs who are out role models go to Koinange for prostitutes what about wananchi? I feel the court erred on it judgement because now the media will be afraid to highlight these issues because of hefty fines they will incur. There is need to have a clear law that defines defamation and press freedom clearly.

  236. Pauline Nyambura K50/88723/2016

    It’s interesting to note that when politicians go around with their hate speeches, more often that not it is Ole Kaparo and team that take action or speak out in displeasure. They at least use the media to highlight what has been said that is divisive and bluntly wrong by whichever leader. The process of taking legal action until now seems to have some challenges and is slow and maybe we need to go back to the policies and laws that are already in place. I envision a situation where our very own leaders draft bills that they can own and adhere to. I could be wrong but i have also not seen Kenyans passionately and consistently using the current available laws to also seek legal audience which is simply taking responsibility by holding our leaders to account. Perhaps we have no faith in the legal system for it does not seem to work. I found this press statement quite interesting.

  237. @Bhalo in your opinion are you trying to say that aggrieved judges cannot go to courts just because their colleagues are going to handle the case? I believe the courts are for all regardless of the status. The Courts exercise a judicial authority given to them by the people through the Constitution and the laws of the land. In awarding that amount the Court must have considered many arguments. I believe the problem is with the defamation law. It is not clear as to what tantamount to defamation. It needs to be amended. Just imagine since 1992 the act is still the same. Surely we need to go with time. Our legislators can do better. Instead of passing laws to increase their salaries, they should be working on amending such acts. The Judge also has a grey book that guides them in awarding that amount. So if you think its too much then maybe the laws need to be reviewed.

  238. Two relevant items caught my attention in today’s papers:
    1) The Communications Authority says it is (will be) monitoring social media for those fanning and spreading hate speech on social media ahead of the elections.
    2) Stiff opposition to a proposed law that requires registration with Kenya Film Classification Board before posting any videos on the internet or social media, among other provisions, with steep penalties.
    My takeout is that we do not have a coordinated strategy for tackling hate speech, particularly online.
    What struck me is the disjointed way that we are dealing with hate speech. Is it the role of the Kaparo-led or CA? Do we have mechanism for collaborations in this very important task amongst the different agencies? Finally, why don’t we have a way of monitoring hate speech already? Does it have to take elections for us to think of this?
    Secondly, for the KFCB law, is this even realistic? How possible is it to implement — and ensure that all videos online have KFCB clearance?
    As a country, we need to rethink our laws against hate speech and defamation online.

  239. Freedom of expression is the cornerstone of any democratic society.  But it should not take precedence over other rights and responsibilities.

    The judiciary, should place policies and procedures that will hasten the implementation process. Failure to regulate hate speech ultimately implies that such expression is acceptable.

    • Juma,I think there is a problem between understanding of freedom of expression and defamation. One may think he or she is expressing him or herself only to find facing the law. This has to be made clear to bloggers, social media users and even journalists.

  240. Our politicians have turned into some gods and goddesses. Why do I say that, they have continued to manipulate the minds of their audience. They know that the audience are desperate in one way or the other, therefore want their audience to believe that they have solutions to their problems. For example in the recent incident where Nyando MP Fred Outa was alleged to have incited Ahero Girls Secondary School students to protest over the interdiction of their principal who was interdicted by the Teachers Service Commission over alleged misappropriation of school funds.

    The MP manipulated the young minds and made them believe he had the solutions they were looking for. He did not care about the damage they would cause to property nor did he care about endangering the lives of the innocent girls.

    But the irony is, when he was arraigned in court, his supporters came out in large numbers to show support. This is because he has made his audience believe in him. Whether he is right or wrong.

  241. Defamation act is used by politicians to silence wananchi such as activists, bloggers. Recently, Deputy President through his lawyer Kilukumi and Co. threatened to sue Boniface Mwangi, for allegedly tweeting a defamatory note on his account that ” I hope Deputy President has no plans of killing me the way He killed, his old friend, Jacob Juma, a fellow thuif who later became a whistle blower” This utterances provoked DP saying the utterances were false and malicious. So I feel like, there is no clear line in our laws differentiating Freedom of speech and what amounts to defamation. The case is live in Court. The DP has sued Boniface Mwangi over defamation. So the new media has had challenges of issues of defamation. Many bloggers such as Robert Alai and Cyprian Nyakundi who was taken to task by Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore over defamation. There is a very thin line between defamation and freedom of speech.

  242. Mwlaimu, I think there is need for review for the existing laws to ensure conformity with the international standards on defamation.

  243. Journalists are expected to be aware of defamation and it’s consequences . This is because every journalist is assumed to have gone through proper media training which includes training on media ethics. Now, that’s the ideal situation but the real situation is that some of the practicing journalists do not undergo any formal training on journalism. This explains why we have witnessed several cases of defamation involving journalists, media houses and politicians. A few years ago nation paid millions of money to Biwott for defamation. Kenyatta family was also paid lots of cash on the same. This narrows down to either ignorance or deliberate move to break the law. Unless media houses ensure all their journalists are properly trained there will continue paying for damages rising from defamation.

    • I concur with your opinion on training meant for professional journalists on media law and ethics for mass communication. This shall enable media houses and freelance journalists to avoid the wrath of law and interference from politicians. Mainstream media ought to have consultants vast with media law and ethics. My worry is about social media and the communication through internet…how best should we think of training social media users? I find this very tricky…! What is your take on this Rebecca?

      • Mwalimu,It sounds difficult to educate social media users on communication ethics and law since they are many using it.Most of the users do not understand the consequences of defamation.

        • Hesbon I do agree that it is difficult to bring all masses to common understanding of high professionalism and ethics required in journalism. But it is possible. The consumers of any media product and services will have to acquire at least some minimum knowledge of professionalism and ethics. Remember that, in some civilized nations where law works, never take mass communication for granted even if you are not a professional journalist. Law can catch up with anybody, any person, and any organization any time. This is not news in Kenya where some social media users have been arraigned in court and some even have been jailed. New media is not a safe haven for criminals and non criminals. Am convinced that civilization comes slowly but it comes.

  244. Defamation laws in Kenya are unjustifiable restrictions on freedom of speech discouraging the citizens from making any comments in expressing their views. This is not healthy at all. I

    • This reminds me of the concept of absolute privilege. Absolute privilege is a defense which relates to a fair, accurate and contemporaneous reports such as court proceedings as well as publication of official reports of parliamentary proceedings. When do draw a line between the freedom of expression, defamation and absolute privilege meant for disseminating information? Journalists have both rights and obligations … freedom of expression, freedom of opinion and reporting differ substantially in meaning. Making a comment and expressing one’s views on an issue are construed to be within the meaning of the freedom of expression and opinion, but reporting is the freedom of media. What is your take on this?

    • with regard to your view, i wonder when a personal opinion ceases from being an opinion, which is protected under the law, and becomes actionable defamation. Does the kenyan law define this line clearly

  245. Defamation laws in Kenya are unjustifiable restrictions on freedom of speech discouraging the citizens from making any comments in expressing their views. This is not healthy at all. We have moved away from the totalitarian system of Government and am not implying that we should get absolute freedom now to say anything but there is need not to confuse defamation with freedom of expression.

  246. @assiageny, Mwalimu I do agree with you that individuals can have a war of words without defaming one another. But in the case of Marwa and Joho it is defamation of character and status. Marwa is a regional coordinator and referring to him as a desk officer I believe amounts to defamation of character and status

    • Mr. Bhalo, in any civil proceeding at the common law system, the burden of proof lies with the claimant. This is the duty of proving a case imposed by the court on the party trying to show that a certain issue is true. In defamation law, the claimant is under duty to prove that his personality, reputation or person suffered damage and injuries due to slander or libel. I am not fully conversant with Marwa case, has Mr. Marwa commenced a legal action against Governor Joho? Referring to someone with a title that is not his, is this a defamation or just mistaking the position one is holding? What is defamation in its essence?

  247. Marwa did not take any legal action against the sentiments made by Joho. However, people on social media especially those from Mombasa County took to social media to attack Marwa and his office. Marwa may have not taken the case to court but his status was in one way or another damaged. He is a senior administrator serving as a regional coordinator, calling him a desk officer is belittling him before the eyes of the public. I am not yet well versed with the law of defamation Mwalimu, are you saying that unless Marwa took Joho to court this is not defamation?

  248. Bungoma county secretary Murumba Chiuli at one time told a blogger who had used social media christened ‘The County Flash’ to apologize by posting defamatory statements that he had fought a Congolese band member for denying him sex thus causing damage or tarnish his name in public. What if the defendant say that the information he wrote was truthful and show evidence and valuable to the general public to escape liabilities?

  249. Journalists are expected to be aware of defamation and it’s consceques . This is because every journalist is assumed to have gone through proper media training which includes training on media ethics. Now, that’s the ideal situation but the real situation is that some of the practicing journalists do not undergo any formal training on journalism. This explains why we have witnessed several cases of defamation involving journalists, media houses and politicians. A few years ago nation paid millions of money to Biwott for defamation. Kenyatta family was also paid lots of cash on the same. This narrows down to either ignorance or deliberate move to break the law. Unless media houses ensure all their journalists are properly trained there will continue paying for damages rising from defamation.

  250. Arthur Collins Nyakundi

    I support this articles main conviction and Wittgenstein’s position that speakers and especially politicians should consider their audience and craft their message accordingly. However, I feel that the composition of the audience being varied, there’s still the possibility that the message will be put to different ‘uses’ however cautiously it is designed. Essentially political speech is playing to the gallery. Language is therefore used to appeal to and ensure it is as inclusive as possible. With this in mind, ambiguity becomes a necessary means to an end. Only when certain sections are left out or disenchanted does the threat of hate speech arise. Our current approach to punishing hate speech is too much based on the source. The hate monger still gets to clarify what they actually meant. With ambiguity in language, they can easily find a safe hiding place. We should therefore prosecute hate speech from the angle of the audience i.e what’s the common usage or interpretation of what was actually said. After all public speaking is meant for public not the speaker’s consumption.

  251. Rebecca i agree with you. Media houses have had to pay a lot due to defamatory language. The issue of employing unqualified journalists have landed them in courts. This is despite the MCSK asking them to advice their employees to go back to school.
    Defamatory language is all over today. In parliament it has become the order of the day simply because our leaders know that they are protected while in the house.
    I feel that these privileges should be done away with to curb the habit.

  252. Joyce Chebet. Politicians are the opinion leaders. They control a big crowd. Most people and especially the Wanjikus will wait for the word from their leader. They believe in them. Also the media focuses on them more than a common man… remember the prominence news value? They are the news makers. A good example was during the referendum time. Most people depended wholly on what their leaders could tell them.

  253. Freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations in many democratic societies. However, such freedoms are not absolute. As such, individuals are legally restricted not to infringe on others rights such uttering hateful words that may create enmity or war. As such, there are restrictions or sanctions that prevent forms of expression which spread, incite and promote hatred based on intolerance.

    In Kenya, Section 13 of the 2008 National Cohesion and Integration Act, which established the Commission, criminalizes the use of hate speech and bars the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior in any medium if they are intended to spur ethnic hatred. There are several cases where individuals have been indicted but when taken to courts, not a single individual has been jailed by our courts for ‘lack of evidence’. Hence, one can conclude that there is laxity in Kenyan courts when dealing with hatemongers.

  254. The problem in enforcing laws on hate crime in Kenya arises from the broad definition of hate speech. It is usually an uphill task for prosecutors to provide evidence that passes the prosecutorial threshold.
    According to Judith Musembi, a law lecturer at the University of Nairobi, successful prosecution of hate speech can help stop it, but the success depends on getting water-tight evidence, which is never easy due to the difference in interpreting what has been said.
    For instance, the ‘Pangani six’ cases have never concluded since gathering evidence has been difficult for prosecutors. It is almost possible to predict what will happen; the cases will be dropped due to lack of evidence. This is can justified by many other related cases that have ended prematurely.


  255. Mwalimu i think training social users is biting more than one can chew and it is difficult since social users are diverse cutting accross continents. At best is to have clear guide lines on defamation, absolute speech and freedom of expression.
    judith openda k50/88332/2016

  256. Yes, I agree with you about absolute privilege, where it protects persons from tort claims, where the statements were made by members of parliament in the house or by judicial officers during court proceedings. So in line with this, am in the view that these comments were made by these officers in the line of duty. Thus the law protects them in discharging their duties that is why we can’t say this was defamation. This is so, to protect the officers in preforming their duties diligently and without fear. Absolute privilege normally applies during judicial proceedings or parliament sessions. Our Katiba, under the rights and fundamental freedoms, article 33 talks on freedom of expression, article 34 freedom of the media and article 35 access to information. If we understand our rights and obligations then I think we have a working document to guide us on how we need to behave.
    Even when we are making opinions, then we need to consider does that opinion conform with the established laws? Is it in any way infringing on someone’s rights? I know at times language can be very problematic; one may make a comment in bonafide while others may take it to have been made in malafide. Media has freedom to report and even it is clear that the state shall not penalize any person of any opinion that is disseminated, However, this freedom does not extend to: article 33(2) a,b,c and d, propaganda of war, incitement to violence, hate speech and advocacy of hatred. Freedom is good but it has to be limited and controlled.

  257. Defamatory statements have always been the tool used by politicians for instance, Isaac Ruto was accusing the deputy president William Ruto this week that the DP has been defiling the church. In the real sense if we try to analyze this difference is based on power. My opinion therefore is, these politicians should avoid by all means the use of defamatory statements because if they are to be voted in they will even without use of hate speech or defamatory statements.
    A vote comes from the hearts of the citizens and its based on the economic contribution of these politicians.

  258. K50/86100/2016
    Whereas freedom of speech is a hallmark of democracy it’s is difficult to have the freedom of speech and the right not to be defamed. If one is free to express their opinion then it becomes hard to prosecute defamation cases. Kenyan politicians are finding it easy to get away with defamation cases because of the burden of proof, with the Kenya defamation act failing to provide specific linguistic measure to libel or slanders then I find it useless to prosecute politician. Slander and controversy ‘sells’ politicians in Kenya, those that are arrogant are seen as tough and fearless are elected as leaders. Let us not lie each to each other, defamation act is for only common ‘mwananchi ‘

  259. Although defamation laws can certainly serve a legitimate purpose in the society that is protection of reputation of individuals. In practice they often represent unnecessary unjustifiable broad restrictions on freedom of expression. The most common problems with defamation laws are that they are overboard in their application, that they fail to provide the adequate defenses, that is legally recognized ‘excuses’ and that the sanctions for breach are excessive. In some cases, laws which use the terminology of defamation in reality serve purposes unrelated to the protection of the reputation, creating confusion amongst citizens and discouraging them against expressing their views. However, in most cases the key problems related to defamation laws in most countries are that they protect feelings instead of reputations, Protect the public order instead of reputations and cases of inadequate defenses.

  260. Thanks all for wonderful comments and reactions concerning hate speech and defamation. First, for a speech to be regarded as hate speech, it must have an element of incitement or contempt towards a certain party( not a political party). This brings disharmony and disintegration in the country and as members of the fourth estate, it is our duty to act as “watch dogs ” and report any such acts in order curb them how ever, besides being hindered by strong powerful politicians or big wealthy men(the who and who in society). On one a many occasions, journalists have also found themselves in trouble : how safe are journalists after reporting on hate speech? have a look at this press release from the media council of Kenya RELEASED ON 24TH AUGUST:
    On 22nd August 2016, Jane Wangechi, a journalist, was allegedly physically assaulted and injured by Monica Njambi Kirunyu, a nominated Member of the County Assembly of Lamu County from Baharini Ward. The nominated MCA is said to have assaulted the journalist accusing her of giving the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) a video evidence to aide in a case where the MCA is facing hate speech charges before the Commission.
    On 23rd August 2016, Standard Group journalist Lydiah Nyawira and Nation Media Group’s Grace Gitau were attacked and assaulted by MCAs while covering the Nyeri County Assembly session.
    K/50/87843/ 2016… JOAN BETT

  261. There is evidence that defamation can be a powerful political too during the election period. In some countries, like the US, candidates do broadcast through TVs and radios negative campaign ads without attracting any litigation. This ain’t common in Kenya. However, what’s common here are political statements that disparage one candidate while heralding the other as the best choice. What baffles me is, when do such comments amount to actionable defamation? The media risks litigation if they re-publish such defamatory statements, unless they can confirm they are true. But how can the media fact-check on everything before publication. Does the media have the duty, under the law, to verify the truthfulness of utterances before publishing them, or are they morally bound to publish issues as they happen? I think the law should be amended to not only allow the media more bases for defamatory defense, but also demand a higher level of proof for politicians and public officers because they are more vulnerable to comments on their character

  262. Mwalimu, in my idea every democratic people are basis freedom of speech. However it would not use priority above additional a rules and responsibilities, by the way the judge most implement process and policies will quickly. Every bad expression means disaster regulation .

    • Muna,as much as freedom of expression and democratic rights is there,there are also things that we cannot do in the defense of freedom of expression for instance propaganda for war,incitement to imminent violence,advocacy hatred based on race,ethinicity and even gender.These one are prohibited and here now law limits freedom of expression.

  263. Media has a superior platform and thus able to reach and influence the masses. Therefore, it is important for it to practice the highest level of accountable reporting. Media should avoid sensational and careless reporting by exercising care by reporting factual stories to enhance professionalism.

    The ‘draconian laws’ that was passed in October 2015 was challenged in court by stakeholders, but the Court declared it constitutional. What this meant was that journalists and media houses could be fined hefty fines or jailed if found guilty of ‘defaming’ parliament. Though this will interfere with the freedom of the media, it will ensure the media do a background check to ensure what it reports is factual.

  264. I agree that curbing hate speech is, and will always be a challenge especially in the political arena because we must appreciate that controversy sells and that’s what politicians and activists are always going for however, some are innocent until blown out of context especially in cultural settings where meaning is lost in translation. However, I’m for the opinion that until a system that’s operational is put to place, our leaders, activists, and politicians should be tasked to play a key role in ensuring it’s on the minimum because as of now the people leading in hate speech are the activists, politicians and our leaders. To make matters worse, there is nothing tangible that has been done to them to serve as a warning to the rest: June this year, 8 politicians were arrested over hate speech but released and they had lunch, shook hands and moved on. Robert Alai has been in and out of jail so many times and nothing worth talking about has been done other than fines that he pays instantly, in fact some politicians even bail him out. Most recently, Boniface Mwangi tweeted in negative light about the deputy president but what we see are ongoing social media exchange between his lawyer and the office of the vice president. My thought is that until our leaders get it right, there is never going to be a system because they are the law makers.

  265. K50/87448/2016
    Defamation in any given society is unacceptable. In developed countries like the UK and US the legal system tend to act when such actions are propagated to any individual. However, in the Kenyan society laws and more so on defamation only tend to favour the “who has it”. This in its essence discourages the common citizen to pursue any legal action against those perceived to be superior. My take is that the laws also tend to be lax in such a manner that individuals can easily get away with defamation against others’ character by exploring the loop holes. Sometimes some leaders defame others but when they realise the magnitude of their crime they rush to the media and issue a public apology where the issue is then let go. Do we really achieve justice by this measure?

  266. K50/87567/2016
    with the rate in which Hate speech cases are being reported in the country, i think it is time a tough law is developed to ensure that the culprits are severely punished.
    Now that we are heading to the general by-election many are tarnishing their opponents names and i think it should not be condoned.

    • I support you Faith that hate speech mongers should be held accountable and the Kenyan courts should now ensure judgement is done with a lot of professionalism.The media too should ensure that these hate speeches are reported to public so that the judiciary can work on them since have realized that in Kenya,an action is taken or seriousness is observed when something is brought to citizen in an open.

  267. @Assiagency In the case of Mombasa Governor and Coast Regional Coordinator Nelson Marwa, allow me to quote section 3 of the Defamation Act Chapter 36 Revised Edition 2012 (1972);
    3.Slander affecting official, professional or business reputation:
    In any action for slander in respect of words calculated to disparage the plaintiff
    in any office, profession, calling trade or business held or carried on by him at
    the time of the publication, it shall not be necessary to allege or prove special
    damage, whether or not the words are spoken of the plaintiff in the way of his office,
    profession, calling, trade or business.

  268. An interesting piece. One thing that comes out clear though is that Communication indeed is a complex process. Scholars are yet to agree on the correct defination of Communication process. Intepretation of the intended message by a receiver in a communication process varies.This may change or distort the intended meaning. The mis interpretaion and or distortion of the message in a communicaion process is perhaps one of the bigggest challenge players in the judicial process grapple with in hate speech related cases. The complex nature of the communication process makes it difficult in administering justice in hate speech related cases because of lack of clarity in the interpretation of the actual intended meaning where both parties agree on this process. This has resulted in weak laws which hate speech mongers have often exploited in legal systems whenever they are accused.

  269. Ruth Olendo K50/86905/2016

    I think politicians as law makers have also realized that hate speech as a crime cannot go anywhere within the Kenyan courts because no one has been successfully prosecuted. Additionally, our laws are too weak and the regulatory bodies toothless dogs.
    The code of practice for journalism from the Media Council of Kenya has a clause that prohibits journalists from quoting anyone who makes derogatory remarks based on ethnicity, religion, race color, sex and creed. Why then isn’t this in practice and who is responsible for punishing offenders?
    The National Cohesion and Integration Act prohibits “publishing, performing and showing anything that is threatening, abusive or insulting if they intent to stir ethnic hatred.” But aren’t the same media houses the first to air remarks from “mheshimiwas”?
    In my view, regulating hate speech on social media will be a tall order now that the nothing much seems to happen to perpetrators in the mainstream field.

    • Ruth, why do you think the alleged politicians always go free and escape the hook of justice in Kenya? Where is the problem? Share more on this idea. It is very good. Compare notes with some of the readings I have provided earlier to make your argument more substantive.

    • I agree with Ruth,
      In my view leaders who claim they are misquoted or make derogatory statements in the name of public interest should not go scot free. Politicians can’t claim to be acting or speaking at a public rally or any other gathering in their private capacity. As a journalist I believe they are public servants and are open to scrutiny from the moment they sought elective office. They ceased to be private citizens. They, therefore, must be held accountable for their messages in whatever form they are presented, be they sign language, symbols, words made etc.
      That is why if they are not sure and ready to standby and defend their position they should not speak.

    • very interesting points @Ruth, i think corruption is the mother of all this, the ‘waheshimiwas’ knows that in kenya money can buy everything, so they have used their money to buy freedom and to intimidate those who do not toe the line.

      Social media is a media with no face, and it cuts across jurisdictions, therefore controlling such media is impossible.

  270. I believe Checks and balances are good. Independent bodies such as Media Council of Kenya ought to do a good job in ensuring that these media houses or journalists adhere to their professional codes of conducts. As much as media is expected to be a mirror of society, I believe they need to practice responsible reporting. Many at times you will see them defaming people in their stories. We need to do better. We have moved from the sensational times to responsible times.

    • Rajan I remember that there was a suggestion of transforming the Media Council of Kenya and to come up with powerful and authoritative institution that would offer checks and balances. The same media fraternity protested against it claiming gagging the media and so on. There are controversies among the same professional journalists that want to be liberal and conservatives at the same time. What is left is that governments try to impose their laws on the media to limit their freedom. What is your take on this?

  271. K50/86100/2016
    Seeing that most main stream media in kenya are owned by the said politicians or elites with interests in money and power. I believe it is time for kenyan citizens to invest in community media, a media by the people for the people , that protects public interest and promotes cohesion. This in my view is one way to train people on social media responsible journalism. Community media has empowered citizens in US and other countries .

    • Good idea Isabela. Social media actually is owned by the people. I believe this is the only strength the new media have in respect to the mainstream media. Whether it protects public interest is subject to challenges. The community media are different issues such as cable networks and such like what we are doing here. Our blog page is meant for a particular community that are interested in media law and ethics for mass communication. Discuss how we can refer to this Assi platform as community network such as the one in the United States of America. Share more…

  272. It is the duty of media houses to ensure ethical blogging on all their platforms on social media.most institutions have also introduced courses on social media in order to address such challenges. However there is still more that needs to be done. Maybe putting in place stringent laws on social media might just bring some degree of sanity

    • I recommend the reading of the Kenya Information and Communications Act (KICA) and its provisions, schedules and amendments by parliament. Remember that we need to be informed of the law and to relate to what is law. Social media is also under control of the government. Remember China blocking google services or Russia hacking some social media or Uganda blocking social media for some time. Governments are capable of doing whatever they believe is in their interests. But why is social media still uncontrollable? This would be even interesting Rebecca and try to find out more.

      • When governments do that (blocking social media) the people say the governments are dictatorial, but in my opinion it is a okey if it is for the common good of the majority. For example in the case of Uganda, i want to believe the damage would have been more if social media was not controlled. Hate speech and hate crime would have been spread through social media

    • And is the measures are set. How sure are we that they will be followed to the later. when it seems even the law makers themselves break the laws!

  273. The media usually finds itself on the bad wide of the law in its quest to reporting in as much as reporting in the interest of the public and public interest. It is impossible to define the public interest. In fact every relevant body has done so: Ofcom, the BBC and the Press Complaints Commission to name just three. Some definitions are fuller than others are, but they are remarkably similar in spirit. Journalists act in the public interest, they all say
    • first, when they expose wrongdoing and injustice, and when they protect the public from danger,
    • second, when they prevent the public from being misled, and
    • third, when they reveal information, which helps, the public make decisions of importance.

    News stories, I would guess, have a bit of both, but we are concerned here today not with most cases but with hard cases, that minority of stories, which involve journalists in bending or breaking rules, or in being accused of doing so. So, if journalists break the law, can the interest of the public be a justification? However great the public’s appetite for information on a given subject, it cannot simply dissolve laws or suspend ethical codes. To suggest that is to surrender to lynch law, or, to use a more current point of reference, looters‘ law. As journalists we can only break laws or breach our codes if we expect to deliver to society something more than the fleeting gratification of curiosity or emotion, something that outweighs the offence. We have to show real gain. In other words we have to serve the public interest.

  274. Sophie Adhiambo Otieno

    Law or ethics doesn’t matter to some of our country’s big sharks ,what maters to them is the money and the the power to do everything they feel like .words do count and no one will ever speak about something in public and later claim innocent with no ill intention all they know is after all there is someone who will have their backs and even so they an buy the law to suit their interest.i strongly believe that this habit has been greatly affected by our corrupt government and the top leaders in the respective legal facilities we have.Even if there is a clear case which have been presented to our court rooms the individual proceeding will always be compromised in away such they turn the tables and the issue canceled with no proper reason.

  275. @Zakheem Rajan are you suggesting that the media houses should turn a blind eye or avoid reporting on defamatory and hate speach remarks made in public in the name of responsible reporting?

  276. The Defamation Act of this country needs to be strengthen and culprits of defamation face justice. Most cases that have been taken to court end up with the plaintiff not receiving the justice he/she deserves. In October last year (2015), former justice minister Martha Karua sued Gatundu Member of Parliament Moses Kuria after he alleged that Karua was involved in fixing William Ruto in the ICC trials. Karua claimed that the remarks made by Kuria tarnished her reputation and wanted justice. The court just ordered Kuria to shun away from dragging Karua’s name into the ICC matter. Kuria was out of coury while the damage was already done for Karua.

  277. I also believe there is a thin line between Freedom of Expression and Defamation. Moses Kuria implicated Martha Karua in fixing William Ruto at the Hague based court, ICC. When Karua took Kuria to court to face charges of defamation, Kuria through his lawyer Danson Mungatana insisted that the sentiments he made at a public rally and later at a press conference were true, and his stand concerning the involvement of Narc Kenya leader in Ruto fixing would not change stating that he enjoys a freedom of expression.

  278. Many defamation cases presented to court have failed to succeed due to the thin line between Freedom of Expression and Defamation. In another case dated July 2015, Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero sued Kakamega Senator Bonny Khalwale for linking him to the misappropriation of funds at the Mumias Sugar Company. Khalwale argued that there is evidence of mismanagement of the company during the reign of Kidero. Again in this case, the court ordered Khalwale to refrain from dragging Kidero’s name into the Mumias scam.

  279. Sophie Adhiambo Otieno

    This may sound strange, but politicians are not the only culprits of hate speech.Ordinary Kenyans are equally culpable, peddling poisonous statements on social media without any fear of punishment.
    One of the worst by-products of the “digital “age is that the rapid rise of technology has given us a new breed of society with no conscience and no respect for the rule of the law.
    Facebook postings shared by thousands of these young men and women reveal a deep-seated time bomb.Just as it is universally accepted that shouting “Fire! Fire!” in a crowded theater is dangerous and should be prohibited, so, too must we recognize that rampant online incitement is a danger that must be stopped before this country catches fire.
    Since the National Cohesion and Integration Commission does not seem inclined to condemn this abuse, one immediate solution is random monitoring and removal of unacceptable content and charging the culprits in court.
    NCIC must work harder to create an online culture that does not tolerate hate speech.I believe that any effort to curb the culture of hate on social media can only succeed if it combines the efforts of law enforcement agencies, civil society, religious groups, and individuals.
    Freedom of speech is all very good in modern society, but it should not be allowed to become dangerous through abuse by reckless individuals.

  280. As much as we blame the Defamation laws of this country, the same laws have seen some defendants charged in a court of law. In January 2014, Former Kisumu East Member of Parliament Gor Sungu was ordered by the Court of Appeal to pay Nairobi Lawyer George Oraro 9 million shillings for defaming him during a parliamentary inquiry into Dr. Robert Ouko’s death.

  281. The Kenya Constitution 2010 and the National Cohesion and Integration Act No. 12 criminalizes hate speech. The Constitution of Kenya 2010
    Chapter Six on Leadership and Integrity expects that those who hold public office should conduct themselves with the highest level of ethics and integrity. Unfortunately, our leaders continue to be careless and at one time of the other have been accused of perpetuating hate crime. It has been argued that the same leaders lowered the threshold of this particular chapter so that they could escape from being accountable. This explains the reasons why we have not had a single convictions in our courts despite a number of them being arraigned in court. On the other hand National Cohesion and Integration Act No. 12 of 2008 defines hate speech under section 13 as a person who:
    (a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or displays any written material
    (b) publishes or distributes written material
    (c) presents or directs the performance the public performance of a play (d) distributes, shows or plays, a recording of visual images
    (e) provides, produces or directs a programme, which is threatening, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior commits an offense if such person intends thereby to stir up ethnic hatred, or having regard to all the circumstances, ethnic hatred is likely to be stirred up.

    Despite such impressive and elaborate laws hate crime is spread all over in our country from our politicians in public platforms to the social media platforms. Indeed, our society continues to be more poralised because of reckless talks and statement. The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) which was created in 2009 by the 2010 Constitution should tame use of hate speech and promote national cohesion and integration. Despite colossal funding the Commission has not lived-up to it mandate. This is the only way we can address the issue that almost now look like a National disaster.


    • @Bernad, both NCIC and the Kenya judiciary have failed or lacked competence in there mandate.I argue that they are the one contributing to hate crime since they are not acting the way its needed.

  282. MERCY CHEGE K50/87921/2016

    Great observation right there. communication is indeed a complex process. It involves encoding an decoding and these processes depend on the individual processing and conveying the information and the individual receiving it. This is where culture and way of upbringing(which involves the society) comes in as different people from different societies decode messages differently. sometimes one might make a statement with no ill-intention only for it to be decoded as defamation. How exactly is the law supposed to govern this? How do you tell whether a statement was made innocently or maliciously?

  283. Now,suppose I post on facebook or other social media platform that I think person x is a thief just to speak my mind.Is that defamatory?Because to me it is my opinion and not a fact.

  284. K50/87448/2016
    From a constitutional perspective, it is clear that any law of defamation is a restriction on freedom of speech in the interest of other rights worthy of protection. Kenya’s leading media outlets, especially in the print sector, are often critical of politicians and government actions. They remain pluralistic, rigorous, and bold in their reporting, although they also frequently pander to the interests of major advertisers and influential politicians, especially at the editorial level. Political pressure coupled with threats and intimidation has encouraged self-censorship on sensitive topics such as security operations and major political events. This is a good thing but when media personalities bow to pressure from the political elite to report derogatory statements of their opponents then legal action has to be taken.


    In Kenya, it appears that whoever has money can get away with defamation case. This mostly happens to politicians. We have seen media houses being fined for publishing defamatory reports, but not politicians. This poses a big question to the judiciary: Is it that the media or other individuals have no capacity to argue their case in court? Could there be more than meets the eye in our courts of law? I doubt whether we have records of a politician who was jailed or fined for commiting the crime. This is a high level of impunity. Government regimes have set presedence in the past, and it appears that its OK for politicians to say wahtever they want in public. Once a politician was confronted by another Kenyan telling him that he cannot brek the law in favor of the politician. the politician said, ” We are the people who make laws and we can as well change them if they dont work for us”. You see, it is already in their DNA that no one can charge them and succeed, and if you succeed, they have the power to change the law. Wanjiku, Anyango, Nanjala, Mwende…are crying for justice , justice for ALL.

  286. Elizabeth Njuguna k50/87543/2016

    A very informative piece right there!!
    No matter how one conveys his/her point, the audience are the final determiners of how they understand what has been altered .Charles Taylor (1994, states that Language is the marrow of community, the public agent through which our identity is realized.What one says tends to define who they are .The media houses are not excluded in the way they package information because the language they use to disseminate a certain information will either create a good or a bad picture to the public.It is the language that propels a culture or a community thus making it a very paramountcy factor that should not be misused.

  287. we can argue that stringent measures are put to curb hate speech.. but as from the argument of Dr. Peter onyango in “The effect of electronic media on legal practice in Kenya:An investigation” I would argue from his question”is the judiciary trained to interpret and measure the truthfulness of electronic media evidence? ” I argue that our judiciary tends to be competent. it is in the clear that the legislative arm of the government is marred with favoritism. A politician presented to court on charges of insighting is released siting lack of clear evidence just as from the article above the politicians through the jargons of semantics used defends himself to be misinterpreted. but that local person who uses the same media to communicate his or her sentiments to the masses is accused of hate speech and the law takes its course. The judiciary is not so much transparent. Not only Kenya but also the world.. take an instance of the ICC. A statement “Hatutaki Madoa doa”was used to incriminant one of the criminal suspects but to his defence it was a misinterpretation in the meaning of the phrase. Those who were affected still have pain in their hearts if not permanent marks of such sentiments. But who is really concerned, who cares more, the activists have tried but the legislature is slow or rather seem not concerned to draft clear laws or to trained an all transparent judiciary that will handle hate speech cases and judgment be drawn that is not biased. But with a country that is politically controlled, the common citizen will for ever wait for a dawn in the judiciary n clear cut reforms

  288. Freedom of expression is not only a benefit in the sphere of politics. In many instances, journalists have accused defamation/slander where the sentences are usually very punitive.

    For instance, Justice Aluoch in 2002 ordered People Daily to pay Nicholas Biwott 20M for publishing a negative story against him. In her judgement, the judge publication on Biwott was tantamount to, “Unmitigated and defenseless character assassination”
    In believe this is where rubber meets the road where some politicians have used defamation and expression to achieve their egocentric desires.

    Section 16A of the defamation Act says, “In any action for libel, the court shall assess the amount of damages payable in such amount as it may deem just” . This act has sometimes been abused by the courts to punish individuals or companies especially where politicians are the complainants.


  289. Addressing hate crime is usually complicated by the need to work across national or regional lines. We live in a more connected world, the boundaries between national and international responsibilities are often blurred. For example, the suppression of hate literature by one nation is not, in times of global electronic networks, a solution to the problem of ethnic conflict and hate. National web sites that reach an international audience are no match for any nation’s policy of formal prohibition and restriction. A good example is that a hate crime happening on cyber space or across border but affecting another nation or person in another country or state could be difficult to prosecute when it comes to issues of jurisdiction and repatriation.
    Remember when CNN widely broadcast that ‘Kenya is a hotbed of crimes….” Kenyans on twitter went wild to the extent that an executive of CNN had to come to apologize to Kenya. Yes, a crime was committed but according to the law, prosecuting such a cased would have brought challenges. One, where would the case be instituted? Kenya or the United States second; if such a case were to be instituted would it breach some immunity laws etcetera.
    Sentiments made by a respectable president do have dire consequences to masses. Another good example is our neighbor and president of Tanzania Dr. John Pombe Maghufuli, he is not a stranger to controversy and making roadside decisions. He once said that Kikuyus are thieves and if any of them was to visit Tanzania, then the Tanzanian police force had to check if the Kikuyus from Kenya had a good conduct certificate. This the president went ahead to state that it was a measure to avoid bad vices spread to his country. He went ahead and said that not everyone from Kenya is bad, but the damage had been done and to date all Kenyan’s know that we are not welcome in Tanzania. Such sentiments can lead to cross border violence

  290. The government of Kenya and the media stakeholders should endeavour to strengthen the Media Council of Kenya, which was established by the Media Council Act, No. 20 of 2013. It is a regulatory body that checks the conduct and discipline of journalists.

    The Council though government sponsored, should remain very independent in its operations and should not be subjected to any form of control. All issues relating to media should be left to be addressed by the Council, this includes, protecting the right and privileges of journalists, ensuring professionalism and accountability of media workers is upheld, training on the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism and resolving disputes raised against the media/journalists and also ensuring that all practising journalists are accredited, by conducting regular audits, with the aim of improving the standard of journalism.

    The law should be amended to allow the Council be the authority to handle all media related cases, be it on hate speech, defamation or any other. This would lessen the burden of frequenting the court corridors trying to file such cases, thus reducing the time taken to give judgments and rulings. (Currently it is handling such cases, though very few people know about it)

    The Council should also be mandated to educate the audience on media related issues this would help the public to engage with the media by learning skills, including ICT skills, which they can use to express themselves and develop content. This could be achieved through activities such as establishing watchdog groups to raise citizens’ awareness about how the media covers different issues such as political issues (election and campaign), gender, resource allocation among others. Continuously holding such public forums where people can discuss current affairs and educate themselves.

  291. #correction
    the judiciary is incompetent

  292. Hate speech restriction has become a means not of addressing specific issues about intimidation or incitement, but of enforcing general social regulation. This is why if you look at hate speech laws in Kenya and across the world, there is no consistency about what constitutes hate speech. The nature, extent and consequences of inflammatory and hate speech in Kenya are pretty evident. They emerge at times of political tension or conflict and in the run-up to and during election campaigns. Those charged or accused of hate speech are rarely successfully prosecuted. Cases either drag on without result or are dropped – often for political reasons.


  293. The raft of regulations proposed by interior ministry never saw the light of the day owing to the spirited fight put up by the media, in as far as getting into the implementation stage is concerned majorly because of the same media posing editorial contents lashing out at the government for infringing on the freedom of the press. Arming the media council with teeth that can bite is long overdue. Just recently the council issued a notice to all journalist seeking elective positions to vacate office but up until now we’ve not seen that happen given that known media personaliy are contesting yet they are still holding office. This puts a big question mark on the level of objecyivity that there is in what viewers and readers consume.

  294. K50/87001/2016
    Legally, I believe it is still very difficult to offer justice when it comes to matters of politicians using marginalizing, hateful and unethical words in their speeches. Even when the media focuses on certain cases in order to affect change, most of the politicians could only spend a day or two in jail and then be out again. I believe the law has failed don this regard and only independent bodies can change this matter. For instance, the the Kenya Information and Communications Act (KICA) being involved in forcing accountability with regard to courts being easy on politicians will actually change something.

  295. What I find interesting with these libel/ defamation suits is the response by lawyers of media houses that the complainant proves that they have a reputation in the first place; and that it has been injured by the offensive article/ broadcast.
    This is the argument by the lawyers of New York Times in response to a demand letter by Donald Trump’s lawyers. It was the same one advanced by Boniface Mwangi’s lawyers in response to the Deputy President’s.
    Proving this, I think, is quite some work. How do you quantify/ demonstrate reputation?

  296. There is evidence that defamation can be a powerful political too during the election period. In some countries, like the US, candidates do broadcast through TVs and radios negative campaign ads without attracting any litigation. This ain’t common in Kenya. However, what’s common here are political statements that disparage one candidate while heralding the other as the best choice. What baffles me is, when do such comments amount to actionable defamation? The media risks litigation if they re-publish such defamatory statements, unless they can confirm they are true. But how can the media fact-check on everything before publication. Does the media have the duty, under the law, to verify the truthfulness of utterances before publishing them, or are they morally bound to publish issues as they happen? I think the law should be amended to not only allow the media more bases for defamatory defense, but also demand a higher level of proof for politicians and public officers because they are more vulnerable to comments on their character

  297. Even if the media council of Kenya comes up with the rules that make them authoritative then there will be a great problem on the independence of every media house and hence conflict of self interest as Thomas Hobbes argued. This will at the end lead to ‘war’ from one media to another.

  298. Journalist and politicians will always crush when it comes to issues of communication. Most of the times the journalists find themselves on the edge because of defamatory statements against the politicians. it becomes tough when a journalist can’t prove beyond reasonable doubts in deed what he reported or published was the truth(Justify) or it was based on human interest. The politicians often sue the journalists/ media houses for tarnishing their reputation and causing them go through humiliation. This costs the media houses a lot of money.

  299. Different audience attach different meanings to words and symbols. This is guided by their worldview, demographics and socialisation. The audience can misinterpret a message based on these factors. It is the duty of the speaker to ensure that they understand their audience and tailor-make the message to suit such audience. This also applies to the media, it should be able to segment its audience and offer what suits them, to avoid misinterpretation that can lead to hate crime or even conflict.


    How speakers deliver their speeches in public is likely to generate hate crime in most circumstances. To avoid such misunderstandings speakers should avoid words which can be interpreted in different ways. Mostly when meaning of a claim is unclear its impossible to say whether its true or false. I think our politicians take advantage of this and use words with hidden meanings to insight the public towards hate crimes. The law in Kenya should be very strict and ensure people caught in such cases are punished severely, only then can we implement rules against hate crime from our public speakers.

  301. In December 2000, former cabinet minister Nicholas Biwott successfully sued the British publishers and printers of a book entitled ‘Dr. Iain West’s Casebook’ together with two Nairobi bookshops that had distributed it. Dr. Iain West’s Casebook had been authored by a British journalist, Chester Stern (who at that time worked for the British tabloid newspaper The Daily Mail), writing in collaboration with Dr. Iain West, a British pathologist who had been part of the Scotland Yard team brought in to investigate the murder of Dr. Robert Ouko in February 1990.The book “alleged Mr Biwott’s involvement in the murder” of Dr. Robert Ouko. The High Court of Kenya presided over by Justice Alnashir Visram, awarded Nicholas Biwott Sh30 million in damages, to date still the highest award for defamation made by a court in Kenya.
    Here is a case of the court finding a report from an authority a Pathologist who is a credible individual to tell the cause of death of an individual plus the investigative arm of the Scotland yard who noted that the former powerful minister may had a hand in the murder of Dr. Robert Ouko. So is it really defamation when you use authoritative information to conclude a situation. Also does the ruling change the minds of the people into believing otherwise as the defamation damage has already happened?


  302. K50/87567/2016
    The fact that most Editors in our main stream media houses have vested interests towards a certain politician has also increased cases of defamation. This because a politician will say something and then call newsrooms to ensure his story is published.Media houses should start fighting hate speech in their reporting.

    • Wow! Tell me Faith, why is it that some individuals are media friendly? Such people may either be too open or just careless about what they say out there? Media are looking for news more than the truth. Media are for entertainments. Careless speakers sound to be very entertaining even if what they say make no rational meaning. Our mind set is tuned to things that are weird and very strange. We tend to remember the mistakes people make other than the correctness. So reckless public speakers tend to be politically correct other than those who are issue based and informed.

      • K50/87619/2016
        I think the state mechanisms charged with the control of content that ought to be released to the public have terribly failed.They have decided to be state actors in total disregard of the public interest.The recent selective sanctions by Kenya Film Board has become like “one man’s syndrome”,serving individualistic interests and only meant to massage the egos of those in power!
        In my opinion,members of the fourth state might not be the issue,the greatest failure lies with the institutions in charge.

        • Is there film classification Board in Kenya? Am persuaded to believe so. Is it functioning properly? Mwendwa, you could shed more light on this. It is a very interesting point.

      • @assiagency i tend to believe some individuals have mastered what most media houses air and publish in their front papers .Therefore for them to remain relevant when they see media people in their functions,that is when they start saying what they think the media will pick.That way they continue becoming popular and relevant in the politically.

  303. Many people are not aware that re-tweeting posts is a re-publication which if the truth or falsity of such information is not verified before posting can be regarded as defamation.

    On October 1st 2014, COFEK published on its website an article, “How true is this allegation on Stanbic Bank Juba Branch on foreign exchange transactions”. The article alleged the bank lacked integrity in its foreign exchange dealings. After Stanbic complained to COFEK about the article, COFEK claimed that it is not the author ‘originator’ of the article and refused to remove from its sites. During the judgement, Justice Alfred Mabeya termed such publication as defamatory which could be accessed by thousands if not millions.

    Therefore, when retweeting something or relying on an anonymous source to write an article, think twice!


    • Thanks so much Irungu. Repeating the evil one has done is tantamount to becoming part of the problem and not the solution. Re-tweeting has brought someone in Kenya to legal problems. But only if you are knowledgeable and you do it in bad faith. There is what we call innocent reporting…please carry on with this conversation. You have a very strong point to make.

  304. K50/89045/2016
    Hate speech in Kenya has become very rampant. The society has slowly inculcated in us how it is the way to gain publicity or fame. The use of hate speech quickly attracts the media which is apparently the fastest way of conveying information.Our politicians are gladly using this vessel to gain fame and popularity. Just to remain relevant. In June this year, 8 politicians were charged with hate speech and after being released on bail. Their experience was like a drop in the ocean. It did not teach the others or make them cautious. Instead the charged politicians gained more fame and publicity. How about we say there is no exact way of doing away with the hate speech among our politicians. It is a campaign strategy!

    • Remember the ethos and morals in every culture. There comes a time that certain words shall be accepted as part of the culture in Kenya. Look at the politics of Donald Trump in the USA! It is indeed very important to monitor how public speaking is changing. Vivianne I would ask you to expound more on the obscenity and decency in mass communication. It is very interesting how you look at the language politicians adopt out there. You as an expert of journalism ethics what would you suggest?


    Libel or defamation attracts hefty fines in a court of law. It is therefore the responsibility of a journalist to report or write factual information and NEVER copy paste what politicians say about the other in public. One defense of defamation accusation is truth. However, to prove such in a court of law can be very challenging even if the report was done without malice aforethought. Therefore, whatever is not of public interest should be shelved, in as much as it could very interesting to hear.

    • As a reporter, what is your intention to publish a defamatory statement? Is it to make or unmake? Do you take any side by commenting or sharing your opinion as well? What is the main reason why you have to tell what other said that is a slander about the other? Share more on this view Mr. Kigamba.

  306. Moses kuria in another controversy today in his facebook account posted an inflammatory remarks about CORD supporters, and I quote part of it ” mukagimara ri ngombe ichi” translates to “You cows, when will you grow up? Surely the choice of language for this guy is just not good, and we know he has a pending case on hate speech and incitement. Surely this guy must be above the law. 9hrs later, no authority has commented on Moses Kuria remarks, where is NCIC? DPP? Police? For me that is misuse of a communication gadget by spreading hate speech.

    • I wonder if calling someone a cow is a defamation! I am persuaded to believe that the speakers lacks some decency and decorum which is more on ethics than on legal offense. Sometimes politics favour individuals with rude language. In Kenya, some giant political parties trade on the politics of arrogance. Even Hon. Raila to some point preferred arrogant personalities that would say anything to the rival. The same to others. This is what Machiavelli calls in his book The Prince, how to cling on power for a long time – get someone to do you the dirty job and you remain the Prince, a gentleman. For instance, the President should be a gentleman while his deputy does him all the dirty job and takes the blame. People will still elect the President and the Running mate will maintain his position. Hon. Moses Kuria once worked for Hon. Raila and the two know each other very well. Only the public may believe that they are enemies…!

  307. Although I agree with Comrade Jane, I wish to point out that the media have a moral duty and responsibility, as the Fourth estate, to not only inform the public, but also form (shape, through agenda setting) and educate them that they should question some of the derogatory and unsubstantiated allegations made by politicians at public rallies which could cause animosity and strife. The media should, therefore not treat their statements as innocent because in most cases they are carefully choreographed with intent to achieve a particular political agenda, which explains why their sycophants will easily carry on with such utterances with impunity.

  308. @kamoet the Judiciary has come along way. After the 2010 Constitution much has changed in this country. Judiciary underwent the radical surgery (Judges and magistrates vetting board) that saw a number of incompetence judges and magistrates sent home. Under the leadership of Mutunga we have the Judiciary Transformation Framework, so much has changed in our courts. And now the CJ nominee Maraga promised to end these cartels and also he said through the National Council of Administration of Justice if appointed CJ, Maraga said that he will invite other stake holders like parliament and executive so that they solve issues together as he believe in dialogue. I also belive it is our INDIVIDUAL OBLIGATION as citizens that we should not be giving BRIBES, that way issues of corruption will not be there. Every public official should no that it is a duty to serve wanjiku.

  309. In my understanding of defamation, is one which injures the person to whom it refers by lowering him or her in the estimation of reasonable people of average intelligence or right thinking members of society generally. In the case of Kuria I am pursuaded to believe that he has lowered the estimation of CORD supporters in the society by damaging their reputation. The word COW literally may not be defamation, however, the implications of the word maybe interpreted as defamatory in that context of Kuria since it has ridiculed CORD supporters and exposed them. Just translate COW in an ordinary way and you will notice it is defamation in itself.

  310. I listened to Mike Sonko’s speech on television as he addressed mourners attending the funeral of Hon Wavinya’s husband in Machakos.

    • Some parts of this story have been suppressed by the system. However, Mr. Rajan is discussing the same topic. It would amount to the abuse of power or abuse of office. But according to Rajan, lets establish if it is a “Treason” within the meaning in the Penal Code. Has Hon. Sonko committed any offense in his words or he is just mocking the presidency? Saying that one is the 3rd in line of presidency, may not be termed as violating the constitution since such power is not constitutional. The 3rd in line should be the Speaker of the National Assembly and not a Senator. If such chain of powers exist then one would allege that he, the senator is the 3rd in line. I believe that there is no substantive law breaking. One time, the Governor of Siaya County, Hon. Rasanga, uttered at a function in Bondo that all CORD governors should not put the portrait of the President in their offices, a statement that aroused mixed signals across the board. Actually, Rasanga did not break any part of the laws of Kenya, but indeed, he only defied the statehood which would amount to some failure in the code of ethics but it is not law breaking. Disrespect to the State such as burning the flag, or abusing the coat of Arm or anything in conjunction, would attribute to an act of treason. But the Kenyan political system seems to be relaxed on such overt and covert offenses for reasons beyond our concern here. Kenya is a unitary government and devolution does not refer to federalism. The Constitution of Kenya is clear on Devolution and how the devolved governments should work with the national government. A democratically elected Head of State and Government must be respected and honoured for the sake of national integrity. I do agree with your sentiments on the same and I still believe that as Kenyans we must uphold our constitution as it is and love our nation. Whoever is elected by the people as the President deserves all honours and respect according to the law of the land. Whoever believes the contrary may have his or her own reasons to do so.

      • Mwalimu there’s also an argument that for Treason charges to hold in a court of law there must be sufficient evidence to prove that there was intention of instigating a change of government and that there were actually activities which were undertaken t fulfill this intention. Going by this I see Sonko merely recording a statement at CID Headquarters, like he already has, and the matter dying a natural death. The law is an ass they say

  311. When Sonko says he is an acting President of the Republic of Kenya and that is legally false…he commits treason…DPP Tobiko directs police to interrogate the Senator for declaring himself acting President Yesterday. Lets see if anything will happen to him. But we know our country, everyone is brothers keeper even when people do wrong things. Sonko is untouchable. The language used by these politicians I jusr wonder.

    • Certain utterances would be considered offensive to the state and the Penal Code has clear provisions on “Treason”… even imagining the death of the President is a treason. This concept comes from English law, imagining the death of Her Majesty the Queen is a treason and punishable by the law. Rajan, I find this very interesting and I urge you to carry on the investigations on what would the Director of Public Prosecutions would do about it or whether this will be handled simply as political postures.

      • Even if we did not have law to govern us, dont we have morals/Ethics? what do we subscribe to as the people. When our leaders behave in a such a way as sonko did, we are left wondering, who do we emulate?

  312. DPP has ordered the IG of police Boinett via email to investigate the conduct of Senator Sonko and He has sent a copy to DCI Ndegwa and ordered the file to be urgently forwarded to his office for appropriate action. Lets wait and see if there are any developments. Waswahili husema, Waarabu wa pemba wajuana na vilemba.

    • In civilized states any political position shall require a thorough psychometrics and some relevant mental tests before one qualifies to be an elected leader. Not that every politician is mentally correct. Some may need psychiatric tests and if proven insane, may lose the seat. This includes leaders who are too drunk or under the influence of substances. This would be an ideal rule for our leaders who misconduct themselves in public.

  313. Scolastica Kunyiha

    Mike sonko words were out of order. The law might classify his action as treason or an uncalled for declaration. He was in his motherland and in a funeral – both situations socially mandate him to be decent in what he says. He has defended himself on social media that the clip was edited, but regardless of part listened to, his words were not right. Kenyans have been treated to a collection of hatespeech and defamatory words in the last few weeks. Question that begs is, is it the political heat or is it personal traits by individuals. We await see what DPP will do and if it will be a lesson to others or not.


  314. Sonko’s utterances are another example of recklessness by our leaders in their choice of language. Of course for most of us it is kenyan politics as usual and we will move on to the next issue without a care. His language was reckless and not thought out clearly .It is unbecoming of a leader to behave in the manner he did. There are claims he was drunk, surely this should classify as Gross misconduct atleast.

  315. According to Harvard University Fredrick Burkle contends that we should be using psychiatric diagnosis as a tool to assess the suitability of candidates for office, Michael Brooks who writes for NewStatesman proposed we start with Donald Tramp. Hehe. Will be good if aspiring leaders undergo this tests and get a certificate to present it to IEBC as part of the requirement. But it will be met with alot of resistance from the waheshimiwa. If chapter 6, leadership and integrity was not followed in the last general elections,many aspirants had issues with integrity and were allowed to vie positions and Kenyans voted for them then we have a bigger problem. Its like we have kangaroo courts and jungle laws and an illiterate public. The mighty don’t follow.

    • In the UK there is compulsory mental health test on leaders. It means, any leader can be put on compulsory Mental Health Test whenever it is deemed appropriate. The rationale is, if Chief Commander is not in sound mental health, then he can possibly make dangerous decision. Even some people argue that Hitler was not mentally sound. But anyway, in Kenya, such regulation would be problematic. This is a nation known for strange things. When it became a requirement that everyone running for a public office must have a university degree, many became graduates over night. Some came up with degrees from serious universities outside Kenya, name them, Makerere, India and so on. Kenyans can even graduate over night in Harvard University. How about, if a Mental Threshold is imposed on leaders such as drug test, mental health test, psychometry? Guess what, this would be the easiest thing for the Kenyan politicians…all will pass the test over night. Mr. Rajan, I do agree with your sentiments, but there is a big problem in this society.Still corruption and impunity are the main hurdles that Kenya must overcome in order to spearhead a working democracy. But the so called negotiated democracy might not be what Kenya needs. Hon. Sonko was elected by the people of Nairobi county as the Senator and I believe even some professionals and sober minded persons might have voted for him. This tells you who we are as a people. The Senator is the most popular leader in Nairobi Eastlands where many votes come from…do you know why? He dishes money like nobody’s business even if this is a political corruption. Political corruption or bribing of voters have been made illegal in this country but nobody has ever been prosecuted. There are many problems and I think that is why the quality of public speaking in Kenya is not getting any better, or rather, is not improving.

  316. I agree with you Mwalimu, the likes of Hitler, Stalin, North Kerea Kim jong and vladmir putin suffers anti social personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder as per Frederick Burkle and he says such leaders will thrive on continuing conflict and will never seek peace. Corruption is a bigger problem in Kenya, at one time President Kenyatta says he is aware of corruption in his office, Raila Odinga also says corruption is a major problme here. But our leaders just talk and talk. These cartles are the system. To dismantle them is also a problem. I remember the embattled EACC chair Philip Kinisu wanted to do a life style audit of his staff but instead, he was the one who was thrown out in the name of resigning. It was alleged that his company was also involved in issues of corruption. So you can see we have a bigger problem.those we appoint to deal with corruptions themselves are involved in corruption. To me corruption is the 1st arm of government. Our institutions to deal with corruptio are very weak. Billions have been lost due to corruption in the current government but nobody has ever been charged. Cases take too long or even dismissed due t lack of evidence. Just recently we have had by elections eg in Malindi and politicians were dishing out money. Has anything happened? NO

  317. A very interesting conversations going on in twitter. Guys follow it and give your opinion. This is in reference to Sonko’s utterances that he is the Acting president. Senior Counsels here trying to debate whether it was treason or not.
    Ahmednassir Abdullahi: When Sonko says he is acting president of the republic of kenya and that is legally false..he commits treason wapi IG and DPP?
    Prof. Makau Mutua: Nothing treasonous when @MikeSonko says he’s “acting president.” Harmless loose talk. Let’s not go back to Njonjo
    Ahmednassir Abdullahi says, Prof do you want us to excuse him under the “locker room banter” rule exception?
    Makau Mutua: stretched free speech rights but didn’t commit a crime.
    Donald Kipkorir: We have created an enabling environment for political scam artists to thrive … And when they know, they can get away.

  318. Language is an issue to everyone in the society. So interpreting the constitution also involves the mastery of the language very well. Defamation laws are there, freedom of speech is there in our constitution. However, we have seen several cases which are almost similar in nature but judgements are totally different just because another judge or magistrate interpreted the constitution differently. Reason being language. One law but different interpretations. I think we need to amend our constitution so that we have a standard universal language. The law needs to be clear when freedom of speech becomes a defamation. I feel like the framers of the constitution left some gaps. Because you give us freedom of speech and on the other hand you tell us if we publish a story about politicians or big pins engaged in corruption activities or murders then we are told that can be defamation.

  319. @Faith Nyamai The media is paid poorly, this is a factor that contributes for them to be corrupt. Hence, a better way to survive is making friendship with politicians who in turn will give you money to run their stories their way or also refuse to run stories that the politicians dont want to hear. In the end no professionalism. For instance Mike Sonko was complaining that his clip was edited by the media and that is why his name is being tarnished. So maybe some enemy of Sonko paid some guy in the media to edit the full clip and just used the one that would fix him. So most of the politicians have somebody in the news room. Am aware that politicians no longer call reporters on ground if they want their stories aired. They just call the editors, pay some money and the story is aired without even having facts. That is the level we have reached.

    • @Bhalo,how can we do away with corruption in the media industry so that we may have fair reporting with facts and ethics since editors are now the most corrupted people in the house and in deed money is what everybody is looking for?Again whom do we blame in this scenario,is it the owner of the media or these editor?

  320. Language is very tricky…one word normally can be interpreted to mean different things. So when politicians are caught in the mix, they try to explain that they were misquoted and what they really meant was something else…

  321. Man made laws so as they become binding to everyone and we live in harmony. If those in power do not respect the laws then we surely are gona have issues. Politicians should be the first ones to defend our constitution and laws. They need to protect them. Otherwise if themselves break the law. What of the common man? No wonder we had post election violence in 2007 and 2008 becaus people had no faith in the judiciary and this was as a result that judiciary was made weaker by those same people who were suppose to protect the institution.


    The intention of a reporter to publish a libelous story, could be to inform the public about the other side of a person who is in a public office. When one occupies a public office or intends to do so, his or her lifestyle loses some privacy. This is seen in America where New York Times published a story about presidential aspirant Donald Trump. Trump threatened to sue the media house and demanded that the story be removed from the website. On response, the New York Times refused remove the story form their website stating that what the two ladies accused Donald Trump of, is a matter of national importance. Most of the time people make decisions based on what they know about an individual. The media informs the audience, but it cannot decide for the people. As the electorates make their decision, the media strives to do its part to inform the public what kind of a person they are going to elect.

  323. Mainstream and private media have lost their obligation to the public. They broadcast or publish issues that ought not to be. They have dealt mostly on the prominence news value. For example, at times they will just air hate speech comments since they were ultered by a politician. They no longer sieve the information to ensure there is minimal harm to the publics.
    While we have community media coming up, which are for, by and of the people, the issues of hate speech is also widespread here. The fact that they broadcast in the language of the people have given them a chance to be tribal. A good example is during the 2007/2008 post election violence. The community media used their language to incite their people to fight back and chase the other tribes.
    The rise of digital and internet era has made it a challenge for the state to regulate the media at large. Information is being edited and this kills the evidence.

    • @jane. It is true the media has moved away from its role of informing, forming and educating the public. The media broadcasts what its audience is interested in. For example, the classic 105 maina kageni show is people driven show, people have on many times suggested the topics they want discussed. The other issue driving the media is the ownership. Most politicians or prominent people have a stake in the media houses, therefore they will always receive air-time. Another issue is need for business and profits, If the same individuals that are involved in hate speech are the key advertisers and sponsors of programmes, they will always be given audience. It is a very delicate balance for the media houses, to remain morally right and make losses or follow the crowd and make profits.

  324. I find Mike Sonkos utterances disrespectable. The fact that he is a politician who has right to express his opinion, i feel he went overboard. This shows clearly why our politicians should take a compulsory law and ethics course. I wonder what they learn in their leadership course they attend. Hon. Sonko is a graduate and he must have done a communications skill course. The question is….Do they really pass their exams and if so, why then don’t they put into practice what they learn?

  325. @Rajaan, on hate speech. how many politicians have been put to book just even one! Who can stand by the Judiciary and say they are independent. let’s wait for Senator Mike Sonko’s story unfold

  326. Scolastica Kunyiha

    In kenya, status one occupies in the society to some extend determines the course of justice. A senior opposition leader last week asked in a rally for people to carry weapons and go evict IEBC. No word has been said by the government or DPP in regards to the statement. To me that was hate speech as it caused mental harm and was a security threat to the IEBC commisioners. DPP has ordered mike sonko file to be opened. In his defense, sonko says he was sent to read the presidents speech (which is yet to be circulated in the public domain) during the funeral. Could he maybe have greeted the mourners and gone straight to the speech a good thing? Maybe he should have read the written speech before hand and delivered the key points without declaring himself president and or verbally abusing mourners. And what is the role of the media in these scenarios. Both speakers said other things but then good news is no news. Media choose to air the negative bits and leave out anything constructive said.


  327. Pauline Nyambura K50/88723/2016

    Does our duty of reporting over rule our duty of care? Sometimes yes it does. We want to tell news fast and first no matter its impact on people. It is also important for media houses to analyze what they are reporting and the effect it has in society. Any news or information to the public must be structured to cause minimum harm to the public. Apart from our own human judgment I believe the media houses can self regulate better to cause minimum harm to the society. Media laws should not only exist to tame and control the media but also to ensure the receivers are well catered for.

  328. Pauline Nyambura K50/88723/2016

    According to the e- publication, Defamation and privacy: The view from Down Under by Mark Pearson, healthy democracies require a questioning, inquiring, fearless news media watching over the other societal institutions, performing the very role Edmund Burke noted when he dubbed them the Fourth Estate. Nevertheless, of course freedom requires responsibility, so his idea is that we should have a responsible media with a minimum of regulation. Let’s look at the Kenya scenario, the media is always complaining about the Government coming up with this and that other law or amendment that is purported to gag it. Has perhaps the media looked into self regulation and doing it so well so that the available laws and the Constitution are just good enough to serve as a regulator?

  329. @Hesbon if you do not provide sufficient evidence to support your claim as true then that is defamation, more so if it injures his reputation in his profession or business. You have the freedom of opinion but it should not cause harm to another Kenyan.

  330. Libel and defamation of character can sometimes be difficult issue to pursue, and it is a problem not only in Kenya. There are different views on what constitutes libel in different parts of the world. In the EU, it is generally that the defendant must offer evidence beyond reasonable doubt that their claim is true. In the USA, the truth of the matter is irrelevant, they look for malicious intent.

    We see the difference in the case of former England Football captain David Beckham, who sued a US based magazine, In Touch for suggesting that he had an affair with a prostitute. In court, Beckham had to prove the magazine acted with actual malice. They could not, so Beckhams lost the case. In Europe, they would most likely have won.

  331. @Zakheem, I think that having our political leaders take personality tests would be a good idea, but at the end of the day, we have to be realistic, how many of them will voluntarily take these tests?
    And even if they did, these tests, like any other tests can be doctored_it’s not outside the realm of possibilities that they may change their answers to suit the particular response they may want to illicit

    • Juma the idea is good for the society and if it is law that whoever is seeking any elective position must take personality test, then it is not optional. Our system is still porous. I do agree that many might even fake documents or bribe professionals to do it for them and they will still qualify. Keep debating on the Compulsory Personality Test…but who is supposed to do it? Is it like IQ & EQ tests? How will it help in improving public speaking?

  332. I stand to be corrected. It is said actions speak louder than words, can we say by Kibaki government deciding to concentrate on Thika Superhighway instead of starting with the Mombasa Malaba Highway because the later needed precedence. It is planned that the SGR construction will stop in Naivasha. Tatu city is coming up in Kiambu so near to the capital city, why cant the government consider building such a city in Turkana so that Kenya has its own Dubai in Lodwar desert. My point is the government is doing what is called selective development. Those areas that are in government are favoured. Isn’t this hate crime through development?

  333. Adline Murunga k50/88163/2016

    For one to prove a case of defamation in court, one has to convince the court that his reputation has been damaged in the minds of right thinking members of the society.In essence this statement means that a mama mboga or common wanjiku can not claim a case of defamation because he/she has no reputation in the first place. Reputation means someone is either famous or popular like a politician, musician, people representing a country in events like sports, ambassadors and other high profile persons.
    My question is then this law is also selective as defamation is not just like any law but a law for the rich.
    In Kenya this has become a way for the politicians to make money as there has been an increase of defamation cases in our courts. At the end unlike hate speech cases these are cases that are running media houses out of their money as more often they are found guilty and ordered to pay hefty fines to the complainant. One good example is On 22 March 2002, Nicholas Biwott, cabinet minister in the Moi government, was awarded Kshs. 20 million (approx. US $256,410) for defamation as the High Court slapped a stinging indictment against Kenyan media houses over “unmitigated and defenseless character assassination.” Kalamka Ltd, the publisher of “The People Daily”, was sentenced to pay Biwott Kshs. 10 million in compensatory damages and a similar sum in exemplary damages, following the publication of an article implicating Biwott in underhanded dealings involving the award of tenders for the construction of the Turkwell Gorge Hydro-Electric Power project.High Court Judge Joyce Aluoch barred “the publisher, its agents and servants” from further publishing any defamatory articles on Biwott, minister of trade and industry. Furthermore, the judge instructed the newspaper and its former editor-in-chief, George Mbugguss, to pay the cost of the lawsuit with interest. In December 2000 former cabinet minister Nicholas Biwott successfully sued the British publishers and printers of a book entitled Dr Iain West’s Casebook together with two Nairobi bookshops that had distributed it. Judge Alnashir Visram awarded him Kshs. 30million and the publishers including book point ordered to stop distributing the books.
    Recently, High Court judge Roselyne Aburili ordered Nation Media Group (NMG) to pay a judge Sh20 million damages for defamation in June. NMG was punished on June 29 this year for questioning why Lands and Environmental Court judge Samuel Mukunya’s name was left out of a list of those who had applied for the position of judges in the High Court and the Supreme Court, based on an email which was claimed to be from Mount Kenya Law Society.the judge said”What I have reproduced in this judgment as published and disseminated by the defendants concerning the plaintiff is in my view not suggestive of a fair and or responsible or objective press. It is suggestive of a misleading, biased, partisan and destructive press. It is a press that does not respect and or protect the dignity of persons,” the judge ruled.

    In another case, a Court of Appeal judge has been awarded Sh26 million following a defamation suit he filed against The Standard arising from his unsuccessful application for the position of Chief Justice in 2011. High Court judge Roselyne Aburili gave Justice Alnasir Visram the award, noting that the headline ‘Unfit for justice’ poisoned minds of the readers and influence to believe that Visram was not the right candidate for the job. The judge added that the newspaper influenced Visram’s interview session and that it caused him humiliation and ridicule in the eyes of the public.
    These are but examples.

  334. Going back to Ruto’s defamation case , I’d like to beg the question, in what scenarios is a circumstance supposed to be rightfully concluded as defamatory? In Kenya today, most of the people caught up in defamation scandals have questionable characters that have been proved in court.It is therefore well known in the public domain what kind of personalities they’re in public office. Therefore, what further damage could be done to the reputation of such an individual.

  335. @juma @zakheem I believe most leaders would pass a personality test when aspiring to set foot on the political arena. In the struggle to maintain popularity and relevance during re-election, this is where most leaders loose their ‘discipline’.We have all seen most of them unfold before our eyes for the worst.

  336. @Pauline Interesting point there. The challenge in the bodies that should supposedly regulate the media is that they mostly act as a journalist rights championing platform. A lot of energy is driven into protecting journalists and editors instead of furthering discussions and policies around regulation.

  337. Sulea Naliaka Murambi

    In his paper on Speech, Power and Violence, Maina Kiai notes that Kenya has been a victim of hate speech. However, some elements of hate speech as will later be seen are captured in the Penal Code and this intimates that hate speech is not novel. The 1992 ethnic clashes were motivated by multi-party politics cuddled with a negative verbal exchange. Maina Kiai acknowledges that hate speech was recorded during that period. For instance, calling for the chopping off of the finger of anyone seen flashing the two finger salute that was the sign of multi-party and calling of Kikuyu to ‘lie low like envelopes’ to avoid destruction. Ultimately specific ethnic groups turned against each other especially in the Rift Valley province where some people lost their lives. Apparently, no action was ever taken, nor any accountability mechanisms initiated. Again, a failure in the Kenyan Judicial system.


  338. Sulea Naliaka Murambi

    @Ahmed Bhalo

    Words became hate speech if the intention of the maker of the statement is to stir up hatred. The intention of Hon. Joho were to make the residents of Mombasa County loose trust in Marwa, through the name calling. His intentions were construed from the context, circumstances, environment and audience at that time. If Hon. Joho did not have the intention to stir up hatred, he would still be prosecuted under section 13

  339. Even as law enforcers investigate the utterances of Senator Mike Sonko,the question of ethics comes to our minds.Have we as a society lost our moral consciousness? The context was a burial ceremony yet the politician could not even have the least respect to the dead and to the family.The trend is worrying.

  340. @Juma Adero,as much as i tend to agree that cases of defamation are usually hard to pursue,i think i agree with Mwalimu that,the Kenyan political system is relaxed on such offences for reasons we may not understand.The system does not offer fair justice since the rich and powerful in society usually get away with their crimes

  341. The Kenyan Politician operates like a machine that is controlled by how many votes will result in an utterance. It is not uncommon to encounter high profile politicians making statements that in law are deemed as hate speech. On October 12th 2015, political analyst Mutahi Ngunyi was charged with four counts of ethnic contempt and hate speech, due to statements he had posted on his Twitter account between 19th and 24th August 2015, that were purportedly discriminatory.In 2010, Wilfred Machage and others were arraigned in court over utterances made during campaigns against the constitutional referendum. In 2012, Ferdinand Waititu made utterances that allegedly led to the death of two Maasai men in Kayole. His case is still ongoing. In 2011, Chirau Ali Mwakwere was cleared of hate speech charges brought against him due to utterances he allegedly made in July 2010, claiming that Arabs had oppressed indigenous coastal people. More recently, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria was charged with incitement and hate speech over posts he made on his social media pages allegedly against the Luo community. None of these cases involving politicians has resulted in the up to 5 year jail term or the Kshs. 1 million fine that the 2008 National Cohesion and Integration (NCI) Act (Section 62) stipulates as punishment for offences of ethnic and racial contempt. Contrarily, most of these cases have been quashed after the accused has offered a mere apology to the NCIC.

    On the flip side, university student Allan Wadi was in January last year charged with hate speech over statements he made on his Facebook page alleging that a particular tribe should be deported from Kenya, and critiquing President Kenyatta. He was sentenced to two years in jail.

    These and other hate speech cases raise concern over how seemingly flexible the hate speech charge is, depending on who has been charged, who brings the charges, the relationship between the accuser and the accused, and whose name(s) has been mentioned in the hate speech statements. While these four factors seem to be the criteria for determining what is or what is not hate speech vis-a-vis the cases above, officially, they are not.

    According to section 13 of the 2008 NCI Act, a person who uses, displays, publishes, distributes, shows or plays threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour (including written material, programs, visual images, recordings or plays), “commits an offence if such person intends thereby to stir up ethnic hatred, or having regard to all the circumstances, ethnic hatred is likely to be stirred up.”

    In other words, in Kenya enforcement of the law on hate speech is merely theoretical. When it comes to politicians, no agency wants to be seen to be rubbing them the wrong way….

  342. How far should the law set limits on freedom of expression?. In her publication, “ Freedom of Expression and Defamation,” Tarlach Mcgonagle states that protective defamation laws can have a chilling effect on freedom of expression and public debate. This occurs when the laws are applied detrimentally to the disadvantage of the defendant.

    17th century thinkers such as John Locke and John Milton underlined their opposition to censorship as an essential part of the development of democratic government. In Kenya, we have seen instances where defendants have been charged huge amount of money. In some instances, there is belief that such judgements are not balanced.


  343. All media houses have a legal department and i know most stories are filtered through the legal barometer..I believe some media houses intentionally publish some stories even with the knowledge that it would attract a legal suit.They weigh the magnitude of the story vs the legal implication.

  344. Elizabeth Njuguna k50/87543/2016

    its so evident that our politicians have lots of disrespect of power.What Mike Sonko said was more of a defamation.Is the government going to take any action on that? or will it be that he was misqouted?

  345. Last year the Deputy President, William Ruto said that the government will introduce a compulsory ethics and integrity training in all levels of the public service. “The government, through the ministry of Education, Science and Technology will also ensure that values are being taught at every level of our education system,” the DP said. In a speech read on his behalf by Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) chief executive officer Halakhe Waqo during the celebration of the International Anti-Corruption Day in Nanyuki, Mr Ruto said Kenya remains committed to her international and regional anti-graft obligations. The Deputy Presidents Office and the EACC has been accused in the past of corruption and not acting ethically. Which begs the question should we treat the above as mere political statements. Ethical leadership requires use power and authority to serve the greater good instead of self-serving interests –a “win/win” for citizens and the government. This modeling serves as a guide and motivator for others to put the needs and interests of the country ahead of their own. Such engagement creates an intellectual and emotional commitment between leaders and their followers that makes both parties equally responsible in the pursuit of Kenyan goals as opposed to narrow interests.
    Civic education needs to be carried out continuously so that the voters can be able to distinguish qualities of a good or bad leader. Ethical leaders are inspiring, stimulating, and possess other visionary behaviors that make up transformational leadership. Ethical leaders also coach cohorts in gaining a sense of personal and professional competence that allows them to excel while being more resilient, loyal and profitable.
    Therefore, Senator Mike Sonko’s actions can be termed unethical because of the context. It was a funeral service and the family was mourning. Sonko and other CORD politicians on the hand made it a political event. Besides, in Kenya every politician tae advantage of the masses gathered and coverage provided by the media.
    The media should start an open dialogue with the political leadership to help them discover and claim their core values, then develop a conversation around voters and ethical leadership. This may help a minority of the public to evaluate the leaders ethically and over time, the number would grow and therefore reduce the instances of unethical behavior.


  346. Elizabeth Njuguna k50/87543/2016

    @julias Mokaya I totally agree with you that the media is a key component in every state,but much as they should give us information as it is, what about the issue of utilitarianism where the media is after the public interest? We expect the media to give as accurate information and when they do we tend to blame them rather than the person making the hate speech.

  347. The use of language is key thing to consider when reporting,talking or writing.For example when reporting court or arrests cases and judicial proceedings one should be keen and know the exact words to use so that he or she may not face defamation judgement since they are expensive.Make sure both criminal and civil procedure and terminologies are understood well by reporters.Consider using original sources whenever possible and verify information before releasing it.

  348. As expected when the going gets tough for politicians for failure to substantiate their utterances, it is the media they blame for their woes. This is best demonstrated by Mike Sonko, who after his gaffe in Machakos of claiming he was acting President since President Kenyatta was out of the country now claims that the media ‘manipulated and edited’ his statement. However, Sonko is not alone in the game of lynching the media, CORD’s Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula on Saturday equally turned against the media blaming journalists for the differences bedeviling the coalition. ’’It is the media that is wishing for discord and a split between us. They should stop speculating over non-existent.” It is very possible for such politicians to interfere with media freedom by dragging journalists to court accusing them of defamation, especially if the media do not keep an accurate recording of such events to use in their defence in the event they are sued. As a reporter it is always advisable to arm yourself with a recorder to ensure sources do not turn against you in the event the story is not favourable to them or fails to serve their political interests. Sometime back I lost my job in one of the leading media houses after a senior government official disowned contents of an interview I had with him and my employer sided with him because I had failed to carry a recording gadget, this is despite the fact that my notes were accurate

  349. The hearing of a defamation case pitting Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale against Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero took various twists over suitability of two lawyers representing them. The Nairobi governor further claimed that Khalwale on his Twitter handle between 24 June and 29 June last year maliciously, recklessly and without any justification defamed him. In addition, the Kakamega Senator Bonny Khalwale has been accused of accepting an out-of-court deal over the Mumias Sugar Company case after “secretly” meeting Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero. Several Kakamega county leaders claimed Khalwale and Kidero met in Arusha, Tanzania a week before the court proceedings claiming the Senator was compromised into relenting on matters affecting the company. Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali said he went to court in a show of support for Khalwale, but that neither the Senator nor his lawyers turned up for the hearing of the case. “This is when I confirmed that indeed money had exchanged hands between the two leaders and ‘mtetezi wa wanyonge’ was not to be trusted anymore,” he said. As a result, the case may have not yielded much because there was lack of commitment on the part of the Senator. In addition the side shows surrounding the case and suitability of lawyers in the case may have compromised objectivity.

  350. @Lucianne Limo Following your comment that all media houses have legal departments, they should conduct training on defamation. This will help educate the journalist on the four four elements that constitute defamation including it should be false, proof of defamation, it has caused a damage and this damage must be to the person concerned, which in turn means that the statement in question must have been read, heard or seen by others. However, the key problems in defamation cases is they protect feelings instead of reputations, protect the public order instead of reputations and has inadequate defenses. Journalists can reduce liability for defamation through diligence where a journalist investigates the facts to ensure the material they have produced for publication is factual and real.

  351. As we continue to comment about defamation on this blog, it is important to note that defamation does not occur in a situation where one expresses a negative opinion about you or even relates an embarrassing anecdote about you. This is why it is critical for one to consult a lawyer before filling a lawsuit to get solid legal grounds. As a matter of fact, one must prove the injury or damage caused by the defamatory statements.

    We have also seen some newspapers retracing defamatory statements and at times apologizing. Writers who are worried about defamation, cut out anything that might offend. Publishers, knowing how much it can cost to lose a case, have lawyers go through articles to cut out anything that might lead to a legal action. I believe this is a tremendous inhibition of free speech and a clear line should be drawn between defamation and freedom of expression.


    • @Irungu, True, at times people confuse negative comments or abusive language with defamation.

      In CIVIL SUIT No 697 of 2009, PHINEHAS NYAGAH V HON. GITOBU IMANYARA, Justice G V Odunga outlined the three elements of the tort of defamation as; First, the words must be defamatory in that they must tend to lower the plaintiff’s reputation in the estimation of right-minded persons, or must tend to cause him to be shunned or avoided. Secondly, the words must refer to the plaintiff. Thirdly, the words must be malicious.

  352. The hearing of a defamation case pitting Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale against Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero took various twists over suitability of two lawyers representing them.
    The Nairobi governor further claimed that Khalwale on his Twitter handle between 24 June and 29 June last year maliciously, recklessly and without any justification defamed him. In addition, the Kakamega Senator Bonny Khalwale has been accused of accepting an out-of-court deal over the Mumias Sugar Company case after “secretly” meeting Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero. Several Kakamega county leaders claimed Khalwale and Kidero met in Arusha, Tanzania a week before the court proceedings claiming the Senator was compromised into relenting on matters affecting the company. Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali said he went to court in a show of support for Khalwale, but that neither the Senator nor his lawyers turned up for the hearing of the case. “This is when I confirmed that indeed money had exchanged hands between the two leaders and ‘mtetezi wa wanyonge’ was not to be trusted anymore,” he said. As a result, the case may have been thrown out because there was lack of commitment on the part of the Senator.

  353. The Constitution of Kenya, 2010 Article 33(1) (a) provides that every person has the right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom to seek, receive or impart information or ideas. However, clause (3) provides that in the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, every person shall respect the rights and reputation of others.

    With this in mind, the speakers should refrain from defamatory words that tend to lower other’s reputation or tends to cause another person be shunned or avoided by others. Though mere abusive words may not be defamatory, the speaker must ensure at all times that his audience do not construe them as defamatory and not simply abusive or malicious. Because any evidence, that shows that the speaker knew the statement was false or did not care whether the information was true or false will be evidence of malice.

  354. @ Assiagency, here is my reply to an ealier comment.
    Community media in USA includes radio television and web,it usually evokes a grassroots attitude and a bias toward the free flow of opinions and ideas. It seeks to educate, inform, and to create a big tent under which its listeners can engage and challenge each other as well as their political leadership. These operations tend to be smaller, community based and managed, with a reliance on local support that may include donations and volunteerism. Therefore Assi platform can be classified as a community media because the main approach is geared towards serving to create a better society.
    However I think people operating individual social media accounts do not fall under the community media because each one joins the social media platform with different agenda. For Social media to qualify it has to set the community agenda

  355. Some of the challenges our media face are self-inflicted.on the whole kenya media is overly partisan which is not a bad thing. The problem is that media want the reader to believe it is objective when a simple content analysis of issues of the day shows they have a view that they seek to market.When the issues of defamation arise, the media fall back to traditional defence .In my view, the media antagonises key newsmakers unnecessarily by displaying open bias in their coverage hence inviting the threat of being sued even when the threshhold of doing so is so low.

  356. JUSTICE IN KENYA IS FOR THE RICH. Why do I say this, prosecuting a defamation case or any other case in court is a tall order. One must know the grounds or the elements that are considered in such a case. The politicians and the elite in the society hire lawyers to guide them through the process, but what about a ‘Wanjiku’ who is not even able to afford three meals a day? Defamed or not, they cannot afford justice, it is a costly affair.

    It is therefore important to educate the citizens or even simplify the law so that the ‘mwananchi’ whom the law is intended can understand it and use it to his/her advantage.

  357. is it not true then that laws on media should be legislated upon to restrict them so as to ensure the rule on equity as well as justice to complainants?

  358. The history of hate speech and incitement to violence in Kenya is a long, widespread and unhappy one. Hate speech and the fanning of ethnic discord was linked with violence after the fraudulent 2007 elections that left nearly 1,500 dead and 600,000 displaced.

    That violence led to the failed prosecution by the International Criminal Court of President Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto and broadcaster and political activist Joshua arap Sang. Sang was specifically charged with using Kalenjin-language radio station Kass FM to broadcast incitement of hatred of the Kikuyu and incitement to violence.

    Politicians have sought to manipulate community grievances to whip up support in every contested election since the restoration of a multiparty system in Kenya in 1992. The grievances revolve around land, employment and access to the material benefits of political office. Criminal gangs or unemployed youths are often used to intimidate opponents and evict their supporters from areas the politicians claim to be theirs. This manipulation has routinely involved the creation and escalation of ethnic suspicion and hatred.

  359. HESBON KERAGE i agree with what you are saying as you know language matters a lot and we can only use it well if we know our context because they help in framing the content. Therefore, if taken to court for example we can only be able not to defame if only that we understand what defamation is.

  360. Taking responsibility for ones actions is an ethical thing. However we find that most of the times we don’t do it. For example, Politicians are known to say one thing today but change it the following day. They tend to go to the courts seeking for justice claiming that they have been defamed upon publication. Our leaders are so quick to kill negative publicity by threatening to sue for defamation. For example, when the Deputy president was accused of the Karen land issue, he threatened to sue Hon. Raila for having defamed him. This dashed reaction changes the public perception about the whole issue.


    i think most politicians with defamation cases are the rich and don’t care how much they will pay the victim in case the court rules they are guilt. take a case of Donald Trump, i think his arrogance is due to his wealth. if he was poor he would probably be careful with his statements.

    • I agree with you Lilian,when one is poor he or she is careful on his or her speech.hardly can you find the poor defaming other people unlike the rich who are confident since they have wealth that they can compensate the defamed.i think a law has to be implemented to counter this.But who is going to implement these laws since the politicians who are responsible for implementing are the victims of defamation?