Shembeteng: Blacklisted sheng words and why
During the electioneering period, the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) blacklisted some sheng, Kikuyu, Kalenjin and Meru words.
These words are cautioned against to ensure that the August 2022 polls were violence-free.
The National Cohesion and Integration Act defines hate speech as ‘the use of threatening, inciting, abusive or insulting words or behaviors, or display of written material with the intention of stirring ethnic hatred.’
This infers that any communication that provokes hate against a group of persons defined by reference to colour, race, nationality, ethnic or national origins amounts to hate speech.
Below are some of the sheng words that were banned;
- Kama mbaya ni mbaya (Kama noma noma) translated to if it is bad, then it is bad. Communities perceived this statement that if an opposing political party plays foul, then party supporters should unleash the severest form of counterattack.
- Operation linda kura meant securing the votes. This statement was perceived as a rallying call by the political party to ensure that there would be rigging and voters should police the process on the poll day. If people are not mandated to be observers, political party agents, or any other functionaries in the polling stations during the poll day, it may portend a recipe for violence.
- Hatupangwingwi – Meaning no one can arrange us. This statement was used to underscore the fact that some families/ communities have
been at the periphery of national leadership and influence for so long, and they no longer want to remain out.
- Watu wa kurusha mawe which meant people who throw stones. The statement referred to a community that is perceived to resolve its disputes by attacking others using stones.
- Watajua hawajui – This statement was perceived that the opponents during a party on an issue would be surprised by the vicious nature of responses they will meet in return.
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