Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, as if he doesn’t have enough problems with the economy and the ICC, has written to the chairman of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, Mzalendo Kibunjaia, demanding that the term ‘KKK Alliance’ – standing for Kikuyu-Kalenjin-Kamba – be banned. In this he has been joined, via a separate letter, by Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka.
Both, it seems, have demanded that the term be declared ‘hate speech’ under the new constitution in that it is stigmatising their communities and makes them appear tribal.
Uhuru’s letter seems incandescent in its renunciation of such a tag as ‘KKK Alliance’ and that ‘it is designed to deny me my constitutional right to associate with other leaders from all walks of life and all parts of the country’.
The problem though is perhaps not with Kenyatta or Kalonzo, or those pushing the ‘KKK Alliance’ label. The problem is surely with the new constitution and their understanding of it.
Article 33 of the new constitution states that, ‘Every person has the right to freedom of expression’ but that the latter does not extended to ‘Hate speech’. But ‘Hate speech’ is not defined.
The Forum has warned before and does so again that at the time of the referendum, and since, not enough people have bothered to read and fully understand the implications (and imperfections) of the new constitution.
The problem is that one person’s ‘free speech’ is another person’s ‘hate speech’. And worse still, if not properly defined, the charge of ‘hate speech’ could been used by the powerful to silence their opponents, or just anyone that disagrees with them.
The Forum is no more a supporter of the KKK than it is of ODM or PNU. That is not our raison d’etre. Our view is that the spirit of the new constitution is as important as the letter. If you want to say it, you should be allowed to say it – as long as you tell the truth and don’t incite violence.
Free speech is not always fair and it comes at a cost, the affliction of the comfortable for one, but it is a price worth paying.