Musicians deny hate speech charges in court

They denied charges and were released on a cash bail of Sh100,000/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 4 – Three musicians accused of propagating hate speech through their songs have been charged in a Nairobi court.

Kamande wa Kioi, Muigai Wa Njoroge and John DeMathew denied the hate speech and incitement to violence charges on Wednesday and were each released on a cash bail of Sh100,000.

The three musicians have been under investigations by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) that recommended their prosecution.

They were accused of producing and publishing songs in Kikuyu language with words that were intended to cause violence.

“You are accused of producing and publishing a song in Kikuyu language on or before April 2010 with words that were intended to cause hatred, hostility and discrimination between members of Kikuyu and Luo communities,” one of the charges against Wa Njoroge read.

If found guilty, the musicians may be imprisoned for a term not exceeding three years or fined Sh1 million or both, according to the National Cohesion and Integration Act.

Their lawyers have informed the court that they will challenge the constitutionality of the charges in the High Court.

The commission has contacted the Media Council of Kenya in a bid to get a log of all media houses which have been playing the songs.

A radio station that plays the music would be liable to a fine not exceeding Sh1 million, according to the Act.

Section 62 of the Cohesion Act criminalises the dissemination of hate speech. “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.

But the lawyers accused NCIC of criminalizing and giving inciteful interpretation to the songs.

“The charges are a gross abuse of court process and an attempt by one side of the political debate to resolve the issue about the truth of the Hague process,” lawyer Gichuki Kingara said.

“Accused would be contending that NCIC was making a criminal interpretation to artistic works by the artistes and they (artistes) are entitled to hold their opinion.”

On Tuesday, their colleagues from Central Kenya and the Kikuyu Council of Elders defended them over the allegations.

The musicians claimed that their freedom of creativity is being infringed upon while the elders accused the commission of bias adding that they have lost confidence in the NCIC chairman Mzalendo Kibunjia.

The NCIC flagged the songs, ‘Mwaka wa Hiti’ (year of the hyena) by DeMathew, Muigai wa Njoroge’s ‘Hague bound’ and ‘Uhuru ni Witu’ by Kamande wa Kioi after public complaints.

Rob Jillo

Rob is the Special Projects Editor. He has special liking for digital media being the first Online Editor for Capital Group. He likes blogging on day-to-day issues, views and news making headlines locally and on the global front. He is a student of Journalism and Related studies at the University of Nairobi and holds a diploma in Mass Communication.

  • mazzdark

    ‘…..
    attempt by one side of the political debate to resolve the issue about the truth of the Hague process….
    NCIC was making a criminal interpretation to artistic works by the artistes and they (artistes) are entitled to hold their opinion…..
    The musicians claimed that their freedom of creativity is being infringed upon….” Let me puke!

  • U-Turn

    There is no hate speech in these songs, only that they rub some politicians the wrong way by telling them some bitter truths, Kivunja and his team should stop victimizing these musicians and get the ones engaging in real hate speech, like Mr 500. when is their term coming to end anyway, so they can be replaced with other un-biased commissioners?

  • Jackson

    THE TIMING IS SUSPECT, songs produced in 2010, and from then nobody has fight each other over its content, and even all that time Kibunja and co never heard about it nor heard anyone complaining? Leave thee young men alone!

  • chodokode

    Shame on Kibunja.The man has to convince his bosses that he needs another term ,Why has he not arrested XYZ ? Is voicing their opinion just like any other Kenyan not a democratic right?

  • http://www.facebook.com/wanjohi.m Mwangi Z Darwa

    If you don’t like somebody it doesn’t even mean you generalize and say you hate the entire tribe. Everyone have the right to lay down his opinion.If any person feels personalized or victimized he is the one to go to court and challenge him in court of law.Otherwise Mr Kivunja direct your Arsenal to the right direction otherwise if you want us to revisit issues go back to the time one politician said Kikuyu s should lay flat as envelops.If not first preach to Kenyans what you term as hate speech.

  • Herman

    ukabila tu ndo wenu! wen will kenyans grow? so absurd! nkt…let them rot in kamiti!


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