In early October this year at a political rally in Narok attended by thousands and covered by all Kenyan media houses Raila Odinga called on Kenyans from Mandera, Isiolo, Samburu, Kajiado and elsewhere in Kenya to arm themselves with spears, arrows and other weapons and come to Nairobi to force IEBC Chief Hassan and his team from office. When there was a public outcry Raila then explained that the weapons he was calling for were ‘really not going to be used for violence but are carried as a symbol by the Maasais’
Meanwhile my good friend Moses Kuria MP for Gatundu South has been put on his defence following criminal charges against him for making ‘hate-speech’ comments on a facebook account associated with him. It is alleged that in 2014 Kuria claimed that those throwing grenades in Nairobi were ‘Odhiambos’ not ‘Somalis’. When Moses Kuria was asked to explain what he meant for the facebook comments he explained that ‘Odhiambos’ is a family name not a community identity so he was not attacking a community, which is what would make his comments hate speech.
However according to the Director of Public Prosecution Moses Kuria’s words were ‘wisely chosen and crafted to target certain communities’. The DPP’s office also argued that the words were crafted ‘by one who is skilled in the art of words ‘to excite Somalis, Kikuyu and Luo communities’. The DPP also argued that the words were ‘crafted’ to achieve a certain objective.
So I ask myself; were the words Raila used in Narok ‘wisely chosen and crafted to target certain communities’; Were the statements going to ‘excite Masai’s, Somalis, Boranas and Samburus’; Can we define Raila’s subsequent explanation that he was calling for ‘ceremonial spears and other weapons’ as the kind of statement that someone ‘who is skilled in the art of words’ would make? Is Raila skilled in ‘the art of words?’ Like me you most probably answered a loud ‘Yes!’ to each of those questions.
‘Arrest Raila Odinga or get him to CID – he should and must tell the Country what he means and why he is threatening violence’ was the immediate demand made by State House-based Dennis Itumbi immediately Raila’s comments were aired by media.
However the response from the government spokesman was that Raila made the inflammatory remarks so that he can get arrested and then accuse the government of intimidating the Opposition. When the DPP was put to task for not acting on Raila he argued that there is no complainant. (Arnold Maliba, Kendagor Obadiah and George Thuku – under the auspices of the ‘Leadership Factory Institute – [LFI] filed a complaint against Raila on 5th October 2017).
The irony is that the reason Kenya introduced hate-speech laws was because Raila spear-headed an ethnic-laced presidential political campaign 10 years ago, that ended up with over 1,000 Kenyans, hundreds of thousands displaced and billions worth of property destroyed. Our national fabric is still struggling to reconstitute since then.
Now this same Raila has been given a free-pass to ‘excite’ communities against government officers with an assurance; from none other than the government itself; that he will not face any charges, because the government is afraid of being accused of attacking the opposition. Must be why in August this year Raila had the audacity to ask ‘what is this animal called hate speech? It has not been defined and we would love to know what it means.’ It is either that, or the government is trying to sell us the ridiculous argument that the politician with the greatest capacity to use hate-speech to cause inter-ethnic conflict, destroy our nationhood and instigate wanton destruction of property, is Moses Kuria. Not Raila Odinga.
Opinion By: Ngunjiri Wambugu