NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 25 – The National Cohesion and Integration Commission has launched investigations into three vernacular songs that are said to contain hate speech and are inciteful.
Chairman Mzalendo Kibunjia said on Monday that the Commission received the complaint on Friday and had taken the three songs by popular musicians Muigai wa Njoroge, Kamande wa Kioi and John Demathew to a certified Kikuyu translator before they take any action.
“We expect to receive the translation by close of business today (Monday) or tomorrow (Tuesday) and then we can make judgement,” Kibunjia said.
He told Capital FM News that they were following up with the media council to find out whether the controversial songs had played on any radio stations so that action could be taken against them as well.
Kibunjia appealed to Kenyans who may have heard the songs playing on air to inform the commission through firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their offices along Mara Road in Nairobi.
“The era of such music is long gone,” he said.
The contentious songs are ‘Mwaka wa Hiti’ loosely translated as year of the hyena by John DeMathew, Muigai wa Njoroge’s ‘Hague bound’ and ‘Uhuru ni Witu’ (Uhuru is ours) by Kamande wa Kioi.
According to the National Cohesion and Integration Act, if the musicians are found guilty of hate speech, they will be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or a fine of Sh1 million or both.
“A person who distributes, shows or plays a recording of visual image or provides, produces or directs a programme which involves use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour 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,” the act states in part.
A radio station that plays the music would be liable to a fine not exceeding Sh1 million according to the Act.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta expressed his concern over the divisive songs and termed it shameful.
“A certain blogger brought this to our attention and we would like to strongly point out that if this is what certain vernacular musicians are doing, regardless of the language and community, we truly stand against it!” the DPM said in his facebook and twitter accounts.
“Music in our respective languages is beautiful, but when corrupted for an agenda that disunites Kenyans, it’s shameful,” he added.
Kenyatta said they had taken action and asked Kenyans to watch out for such acts and base their votes on issues rather than tribal affiliations.
“We are doing something about it …. Kenya is all we have, guard your fellow citizen, guard your nation,” he stated.