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Cohesion agency cautions against hate speech at rallies

By Bernard Gitau
Friday, February 21st, 2020
In summary

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has warned that the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) rallies should not be used a platforms to spread hatred and divide Kenyans.

 NCIC chairperson Samuel Kobia said the campaign was meant to foster national cohesion, but was instead being used to sow seeds of discord.

 The commission highlighted pockets of chaos experienced in Kitui and Mombasa BBI rallies and comments by Narok Senator Ledama Ole Kina to the effect  that the BBI rally set to be held in the county tomorrow was a “purely Maasai affair.”

The remarks which have received widespread condemnation have been interpreted to suggest that the governor had excluded non-Maasai residents of  Narok, Kajiado and Samburu counties from the rally.

 Rev Kobia said the commission has launched investigations against the senator and will issue summons against him once the probe is concluded.

   “There will be severe consequences for those who involve themselves in abusive, exclusive, demeaning language and stereotyping or profiling of other people,” said Kobia.

 Commissioner Danvas Makori described the senator as “a conveyor of bigotry.”

“Narok is a cosmopolitan county and you cannot advocate rights of one community and also trample on the rights of others,” he said.

 He said BBI rallies and region meetings should be free for all communities in a particular area, as exclusion will defeat the purpose of its inception.

 But on his twitter handle, ole Kina called those who were bashing him over his comments “juvenile”.

“If it relates to what I said in regards to the land use policy and the fact that we the Maasai have been stigmatised, traumatised and marginalised for way too long I take full responsibility and challenge anyone or commission to discredit my statements with facts. The truth shall set us free,” he tweeted.

   “All those bashing me can’t handle the truth. When Uhuru held a meeting in Sagana and addressed it in Kikuyu no one complained! When Ruto invites his tribesmates to Weston Hotel to discuss Kalenjin issues @kipmurkomen does not through(sic) tantrums! So juvenile!” he tweeted, in response to Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkommen who had condemned the senator’s comments. 

Reflect diversities

And in a statement yesterday, Opposition chief Raila Odinga advised organisers of the Narok BBI event to ensure the meetings are inclusive.

“Given the cosmopolitan nature of the seven counties to be represented, the Rt Hon Raila Odinga urges the coordinators of the two-day event to ensure participants reflect particularly the ethnic and occupational diversities of the counties to include ethnic minorities, herdsmen, farmers, women and the youth,” said a statement by Raila’s spokesman Denis Onyango.  

The Narok BBI rally will be held after a delegates meeting in the county today. The BBI activities  will then shift to Garissa on Sunday. 

To tame hate mongers, the commission has come up with 12 principles to guide the BBI conversations.

  The principles include: working, living and together sharing resources in the most equitable way, organisers required to safeguard the integrity of the BBI text, and spell out clarity of their agenda in good time for the forum.

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