, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 7 – It all started as mere freedom of expression on the unregulated social media space.
But a message posted on Twitter by political scientist Mutahi Ngunyi now has him in deep trouble with law enforcers.
On Wednesday, things got tough after Nairobi Chief Magistrate Daniel Ogembo summoned Ngunyi to appear in court next Monday to plead to charges of hate speech, incitement to violence and ethnic contempt.
Then, the public will not be looking out for his brusque comments on Kenya’s side-splitting political landscape, but his guilty, or not guilty plea.
It all started on August 21 when Ngunyi posted a message on his Twitter account in which he depicted the Luo and Luhya communities as ‘poverty stricken’.
The tweet caused uproar among the two communities and condemnation from citizens determined to lock out ethnic tensions.
Ngunyi, who is known to speak his mind, that time, was forced to forgo his smugness and issued a public apology on social media.
He even appeared before the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) to request the commission to grant him an opportunity to apologise and reconcile.
“I want to apologise again. No ill intentions at all against the Luo nation. If the Luo Council of Elders can accept a goat from me, I would want to post one, if you know where they live,” he pleaded.
With such a grave burden that has the possibility to threaten his standing in the society, Ngunyi set out to seek city lawyer Apollo Mboya who filed a complaint against him with NCIC and offered him a beer to demonstrate he was indeed sorry for his remarks.
Mboya had petitioned NCIC over the hate comments attacking former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and disparaging the Luos and Luhyas.
Ngunyi also offered the Luo a goat to say sorry.
Despite his public apology, beer and goat offers, Ngunyi will now be in court defending himself against the comments.
On Tuesday his application seeking to obtain orders to block the prosecution was rejected.