NCIC: Coded language, stereotyping fuelling hatred


Nairobi, Kenya: The use of coded language and stereotyping different ethnic communities is causing animosity and hatred among communities, National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has said.

The Commission said that hate speech and hatred is largely associated with malicious individuals who want to emphasise the negative stereotypes and possibly use coded expressions to incite particular ethnic communities for selfish reasons.

NCIC Vice Chair Milly Lwanga said that some of the stereotypes have been passed from generation to generation and have become an integral part of the identity of the target Kenyan communities in the view of the inner communities.

“The use of stereotypes and coded expressions in this manner can be traced to specific contexts associated with crime, competition for resources and political contest,” said Lwanga.

Speaking during the launch of a research report on use of coded language and stereotype at a Nairobi Hotel Thursday, Lwanga noted that most of the negative stereotype has been used to target mainly the Kikuyus and the Luos.

The study revealed that Kikuyus have bore the brunt of being stereotyped as thieves, which tends to stir ethnic animosity anytime it is used to refer to members of the Kikuyu community.

The Luos have not been spared either, and the most stereotype targeting them is referring to them as uncircumcised. The term is used negatively to portray all members of the Luo community as children, premature and not fully developed.

There are other stereotype words that have been used for communities like the Kamba, Maasai, Samburu, Embu, Tharaka, Pokot, Sabaot, Mbeere and Kalenjin among others.

Derogative words like animals, dogs, smelly people; foolish, Bushmen and monkey have been used to negatively describe different ethnic communities.

Already the commission is going round the country collecting views on the use of coded expressions and once a comprehensive report is compiled, it would be sent to various institutions for the formation of policies to enhance cohesiveness and national integration.

Under section 25 (p) of the National and Integration Act of 2008, the commission is mandated to undertake research and studies and make recommendations to the government on any issue relating to ethnic affairs.

The Standard
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