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Kenya: Politicians using hate speech, ethnicity as campaign tools

Kenya: Politicians using hate speech, ethnicity as campaign tools


A section of prominent Kenyan politicians are using hate speech as a campaign tactic. This is according to Ushahidi, a crisis mapping tech company in Kenya.

Daudi Were is the CEO of the company, and he affirms that there is indeed a worrying trend of tribal spurring and incitement especially on social media.

“The main perpetrators of dangerous speech online are not anonymous Kenyan bloggers hiding behind their computers, it is usually very prominent people, elected officials, members of very prominent professions, people who are basically using their real name and do not feel any need to hide who they are in perpetrating incidences of dangerous speech,” said Were.

Last week, eight pro-government and opposition politicians in Kenya were arrested after it was said they made public remarks “laced with ethnic hatred, vilification and incitement.”

Tribalism and negative ethnicity fueled the 2007 post-election violence in Kenya that left 1,200 dead and hundreds of thousands displaced, after a disputed election.

“This is unacceptable in Kenya in 2016, 2017. This type of speech is unacceptable because the most dangerous thing that we are seeing is hate speech as a campaign tactic, saying that if you actually perpetrate hate speech, you get more votes. And we have to disprove that theory and not allow it to be a legitimate campaign tactic,” said Were.

Kenya heads to the polls in August next year and incidents of politicians drumming up support or stoking fears based on ethnic allegiances continue to crop up and there are fears of renewed violence in the 2017 poll.