MP tables changes to outlaw speaking in mother tongue during public rallies

Politicians may soon be barred from using mother tongue when addressing public rallies.

This is if the National Assembly adopts amendments to the National Cohesion and Integration Act 2008.

Lamu Woman Representative Ruweida Mohammed, in proposals contained in the National Cohesion and Integration (Amendment) Bill 2018, wants Kiswahili to be the official language in all public gatherings to promote national cohesion.

In the proposals, the lawmaker argues that although Article 7 of the Constitution recognises Kiswahili and English as official languages, the use of both languages has divided Kenyans.

"Sometimes the diversity of languages can be a dividing factor for a nation. The use of one common language is therefore one of the factors that can encourage national cohesion and integration,” reads the Bill.

“It is in light of this background that there is need to amend the National Cohesion and Integration Act 2008, to provide use of official languages by any person addressing a public gathering,” states the Bill.

Already, members of House Committee on National Cohesion and Equal Opportunity, which is led by nominated MP Maina Kamanda, has begun the pre-publication scrutiny of the Bill tabled on Thursday last week.

The MP said 2008 and last year's election violence were to a large extent a result of  politicians using mother tongue.

"Use of vernacular has seen politicians stand in rallies and address their ethnic groups, inciting them to violence and hate against people they perceive as their political rivals," she said, adding: “Adopting Swahili language will encourage full participation by all ethnic communities in the social, economic, cultural and political life of the country".

Mr Kamanda said his committee would invite Ministry of Education officials, to establish why the curriculum had not fully encouraged the use of Kiswahili.

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