Media has a key role of taming tribalism, hate speech in Kenya

Thursday October 26 2017

It is important to note that the Constitution protects freedom of expression but this right should not extend to war propaganda, incitement to violence or hate speech.

Kenya’s content regulatory body, Kenya Film Classification Board, through its CEO Ezekiel Mutua, raised this issue and gave some guidelines which should be adopted by our media to promote coexistence.

It is important to note that in our democratic society, the media are the driving force of public opinion. Media sources such as newspapers play significant roles in shaping a person’s understanding and perception about the events in our daily lives.

But many media stations and journalists continue to ignore the basic tenets of responsible journalism, allowing inconsiderate people to spread hate speech through their media outlets. This is an unethical practice of journalism and a violation of the Constitution.

Kenyan television and radio stations host analysts who are propagating hate messages and fanning ethnic tension in the name of commenting on national issues.


Both Kenya Film Classification Board guidelines and the Media Council of Kenya’s code of conduct for the practice of journalism restrict media from carrying content that invokes feelings of contempt, hatred, violence, or inflammatory statements .

The media should play a reconciliatory role to see to it that politicians and other interviewees on their stations respect our diversity and everyone’s opinion whether minority or majority.

The media should also ensure balance, accuracy and objectivity. They should give hate mongers a blackout and tame charlatans masquerading as political analysts.

Finally, political analysts should be careful not to mislead listeners because when it comes to sensitive subjects, many people take their opinion as the gospel truth.




During my days at the university, I noticed a peculiar habit where students would sit in tribal “enclaves” in the dining hall. Initially, I had thought this were upcountry folk yet to get used to the “metropolitan” nature of campuses.

But, I got a shocker when I started working - the same tribal associations were also prevalent at the work place. Tribal association in Kenya has become so rampant that some churches, universities, political parties, parastatals, and even WhatsApp groups have been designated to belong to certain tribes.

The big question is, must we look at everything in our country from a tribal perspective? Do we look down on others because they do not belong to our tribe?

As much as we Kenyans are from different tribes we belong to one country called Kenya. Despite our differences, our opinions, our political affiliations and upbringing, we must pledge to protect the interests of our country.

JOE MUSYOKI, Kitengela.

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