Thursday, July 05, 2012
Thin Divide Between Hate Speech and Ethnic Art
So National Cohesion and Integration Commission has made good its threat by charging three Kikuyu musicians (Kamande Wa Kioi, Muigai Wa Njoroge and John DeMathew) with hate speech. It appears the hitherto thin line between creative art and hate speech has been erased. Those who understand Kikuyu metaphors and mythology may beg to differ with the alleged charge of inciting hatred between the Kikuyu and Luo communities. Kenya is bigger than these two tribes who have been always generated more political heat between them with devatating/fatal consequences. Listening to the songs one may get nothing more than the common stereotypes albeit ordered into lyrics. I know people will be quick to remind us of Rwanda's Radio Miles and the subsequent genocide. To drive fear into Kenyans we will be reminded of the not-yet-healed PEV wounds and many raves. But art is better appreciated for its creativity and entertainment value. The Hague Bound song may be the most emotive with its lyrics posing questions about what to do if, for example, someone takes you to The Hague or takes your wife or property. The chorus reply "kill him" is so natural it may pass as tasteless. All these years Luos have lived with the kihii tag. So it is therefore no heinous crime singing about finishing the uncircumcised. The courts are better left to deal with more weighty litigation rather than engaging in criminal interpretation to artistic works.