Language policy to be enacted to curb hate speech

By Beth Nyaga

The government is formulating a Language Policy whose implementation will among other things curb hate speech. 

Information Communications and Technology Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru has said lack of an elaborate language policy in the country has contributed to emergency of hate speech which threatens to divide Kenyans along ethnic lines.

“Recent public pronouncements by a section of leaders in the country have demonstrated the importance of formulating language policy framework to maintain peace and security,” he said.

The Cabinet Secretary was referring to a section of Jubilee and Cord leaders who were in the dock last week after they were arrested and charged with hate speech.

The leaders in question include, Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama, MPs Junet Mohamed (Suna East), Timothy Bosire (Kitutu Masaba), Moses Kuria (Gatundu South) Kimani Ngunjiri (Bahati), Women Representatives Aisha Jumwa (Kilifi) and her Busia counterpart Florence Mutua.

The accused were released on Friday last week on cash bail.

Mucheru was speaking  at Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) during the official opening of stakeholders workshop on Language Policy.

He said the government inspired by the country’s cultural and language pluralism is developing the policy to promote national homogeneity and provide guidelines on the usage of various languages.

“In doing this we aim at preserving our cultural dynamics and directing our language energies for national development,” added Mucheru.

He said a national language policy will be vital in conducting government business, diplomatic engagements and for teaching in learning institutions.

“A language preservation model must therefore be crafted within the policy to ensure that our indigenous languages do not become extinct,” said Mucheru.

The Cabinet Secretary said the proposed policy, which is categorized into three broad areas, will be effective in the next two or three months.

The categories are language for good governance, language for a vibrant society, and Language for a strong economy.

Language for good governance entails policy statements to promote unity, equity and justice in line with the tenets of the 2010 Constitution.

Language for a vibrant society will foster the spirit of a harmonious society that promotes the country’s cohesiveness through language while language for a strong economy is meant to strengthen education through language learning, creation of wealth and language development.

Mucheru said the language for governance, which recognizes citizens who are disadvantaged by convectional languages, will promote equality and inclusivity of persons with disability.

He said language for a vibrant society also focuses on multilingual service delivery that will enable people from different linguistic groups to easily access public services.

National Council for People with Disability (NCPD) representative Paul Mugambi hailed the proposed policy, saying it will address a sizeable number of challenges faced by people with special abilities.

Mugambi however called on the government to incorporate braille subject in the curriculum.

Present at the workshop were ICT Secretary of  Administration Dr. Katherine Getao, Senior Cultural Officer at the Sports and Culture Ministry Julius Mwahunga,  and Information Secretary Judy Munyinyi-Mumo among others.



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