Kenyan National Cohesion And Integration Commission Reports an Increase in Use of Stereotypes And Coded Language
Kenya’s National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) on Thursday reported an increase in use of stereotypes and coded language to isolate other communities as the country heads to general elections on 4th March.
As the elections draw nearer, the use of coded language had reached "unpalatable" levels such that NCIC compared the situation to Rwanda in 1994 where code names for the Tutsi and Hutu communities were widely used before the genocide in which an estimated 800,000 people were killed in 100 days.
The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) said in its report it found that ethnic groups use code names to identify others and that while some are used positively, others are negative and generate "outright contempt".
"We commissioned this study because of the realization that the work we started three-and-a-half years ago of trying to highlight to Kenyans the danger of hate speech is now threatened by coded language and stereotypes," NCIC vice chairperson Milly Lwanga told kenyan paper Daily Nation newspaper.
She said Kenyans are more aware of the legal consequences of engaging in hate speech and have resorted to using coded language when referring to people of another ethnic group.
In its research, the NCIC found that though the coded language was seen to evolve, there are some words that are most commonly codified which they said can stir ethnic animosity and negative feelings towards the targeted communities.
They cited some words commonly used by ethnic groups such as "thieves" to identify the Kikuyu community and "uncircumcised" to portray the Luo "as children, premature and not fully developed".
Also, NCIC found that various groups refer to others as animals, smelly, foolish and bushmen among other offensive terms.
Kenya experienced its worst ethnic violence in 2007/08 following a disputed Presidential election that left over 1,300 people dead and approximately 350,00 people displaced.
Source African Press Agency
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