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Kenya launches a text service to stop hate speech

The BBC reports, utterly uncritically, “Kenya launches text service to stop hate speech

A new text service to report hate speech in Kenya has been launched ahead of a referendum on a new constitution.

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission, set up after the 2007 post-poll violence in which some 1,300 people were killed, will monitor it.

“If hate speech is reported, we will be able to respond within 12 hours,” NCIC head Mzalendo Kibinja told the BBC.

Respond how, exactly? Do they mean issue a statement rebutting the hateful arguments, or do they mean arrest someone?

Mr Kibinja said some people still find it difficult to report their concerns to the authorities.

Because of a commendable reluctance to criminalise speech? Apparently not:

“Sometimes people give up, they don’t want go to the police station because they think nothing will be done,” he told the BBC’s Network Africa programme.

NCIC’s Millie Lwanga said the free SMS number – 6397 – was established thanks to $700,000 (£459,400) received from international donors, Kenya’s Daily Nation paper reports.

I would be interested to know who these foreign donors were, and whether they were individuals or organisations. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the EU helping Africa to try out systems to control free speech that it would like to introduce in Europe – but this is pure speculation on my part.

It could be that this initiative is being misreported, and that a fashionable concern with “hate speech” has been semi-randomly stuck on the label of what is actually a police hotline for people to report mobs gathering or incitement to specific criminal acts.

I hope so. Yes, I do know that Kenya has suffered severe violence after past elections. No, I do not want a repeat of this. But telling informers that their denunciations will be acted upon within twelve hours is not the way to promote civil society. It does not even succeed in reducing violence. The delator and the mob thrived together in ancient Rome.

19 comments to Kenya launches a text service to stop hate speech

  • “You too can use wonderful mobile technology to denounce your neighbours to the state!

    Just send your reports to 1-800-STASI and we will take it from there!”

  • Alsadius

    The real question I have – if actual, genuine murder is your concern(and not mere speech), then why exactly should a 12-hour response time be any comfort whatsoever? If someone is killing me, I want a response within 12 seconds, not 12 hours.

  • Well, the new constitution embeds shariah into Kenyan law, so whats the bet that hate speech includes objective discussion of a certain civil system which masquerades as a religion, and that the foreign funding comes from east of Transjordan Palestine, north of Somalia, west of Yemen and south of Iraq.

  • I find the way the BBC article takes the Kenyan censorship efforts at face value very creepy.

    There almost seems a laudatory undertone in this article, as if this is a commendable and ‘progressive’ step toward modernity.

  • Gene

    Perhaps a massive campaign of texted complaints against editorial writers for the Guardian and The Nation magazine would be in order?

  • Nuke Gray

    But who doesn’t hate bigots spouting their insane (that is, different to my) opinions! I hate them, I hate them, I hate them!!! Oops! I didn’t mean that!!!…
    Who’s that knocking at my door??
    (Service has been permanently cancelled)

  • Paul Marks

    I hope I will not be accused of being a “birther” (which I am NOT) if I point out that the Prime Minister of Kenya (the socialist Raili Odinga) is the cousin of Barack Obama – and that Barack Obama sent him about a million Dollars of support during the election campaign.

    Not that the other main party was any good either of course…

  • Laird

    Paul, that’s the first I’ve heard of their relationship. Could you be a little more precise about exactly how they’re related? (“Cousin” covers a lot of ground.) Thanks.

  • Owinok

    Paul and Counting Cats, you are both so so wrong and perhaps a quick check will make you more circumspect next time. First, the draft constitution in kenya does not incorporate Shariah into Kenyan law. I have reviewed it in full and there’s no such word or anything of the sort. Second, smear names do not break bones. The guy you call a socialist, Raila Odinga, built one of the largest private enterprises (EA Spectre) in Kenya in mid 1970s when the rest of Kenyan bureaucrats who came up with the view that he is socialist were bullying British corporations to allow them into the firms that they did not know a thing about.

    Check your facts gentlemen and ladies. Because for Libertarians, truth matters or should!

  • Paul Marks

    Owinok is the socialist background of the gentleman in dispute? Nothing you present here suggests that it is – but I am open to being corrected.

    “But he built up a large private company”.

    So freaking what?

    Many socialists do that – Robert Maxwell springs to mind.

    You are confusing a person’s occupation (businessman) with their beliefs.

    As if all people in a certain “class” have the same beliefs.

    That aspect of Marxism (like all other aspects of Marxism) is false.

  • Paul Marks

    After a quick look at Wikipedia (a source mostly written by leftist American students – so hardly right wing).

    The gentleman was educated in East Germany (I had NOT known that – so thank you Owinok, I would not have bothered to look him up had you not protested). Are you claiming that Odinga just happened to be in East Germany?

    By the way – I still might have voted for him in 2007 (as the other side were at least as bad).

    In October 2008 he had Jerome Corsei detained (not that like Corsei very much – but still) in order to prevent a news conference that Corsei was about to have against Obama (hat tip to Don Fredrick for that one).

    Knowing Corsei fact was likely to mixed in with rumour (that is his biggest fault) – but you still do not have man detained because you do not like what you think he might say.

    As for my “smear” that Odinga is related to Obama.

    Actually Odinga spread that “smear” himself – January 2008 BBC interview. That is where he claimed to be his cus.

    So which is it.

    Was Odinga lying?

    Or are they kin?

    Still it would be better if Odinga was President of the United States rather than Obama.

    Socialist he may be (he certainly used to be), but at least Odinga may be a bit more open to anti socialist arguments than Obama is.

    As far as I can tell, Barack Obama has never been outside a bubble of socialist thought in his entire life – first his socialist family and family friends, then various universities, then politican community activist work.

    Barack never really had a chance – he has never really mixed with people who want less collectivism rather than more collectivism.

  • Paul Marks

    As for Kenyan government policy.

    Well I remembered what the BBC (hardly a right wing source) said about Odinga. But I have had to check – as Owinik has presented him as some sort of free market person (because, like Robert Maxwell and so many others, he has built up a very large private business).

    Again I have been careful NOT to use right wing sources (I have stuck to the leftist American students and academics with time on their hands – i.e. Wikpedia and so on).

    Odinaga favoured free education for everyone at the expense of the taxpayers – “and what is wrong with that”, the same thing that would be wrong with it in 18th century England, it can not be afforded.

    Kenya is a poor country – this policy is a burden that simply makes no sense at this level of economic development. Of course, as a libertarian, I am not exactly a fan of government education anyway – but universal (first primary and now secondary) free education IN A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY?

    That is nuts.

    But it does not stop there – some important land has been returned to common (read “disguised government”) ownership – away from the naughty private people who had claimed it.

    The people concerned were BLACK (so this is no attack on the evil Imperalists) – it is just a crazy policy.

    Remember what happened in Brazil when the evil “rubber barons” (rather than robber barons) had the forest land taken away from them? It became open session on the forest (which now belonged to no individuals) with everyone from slash and burn peasants, to cattle ranches destroying every tree they could. If no individuals have LONG TERM secure ownership of land, you can can forget about preventing turning into desert.

    After all – that has been the story of the Islamic world. No secure private ownership of land in most of the Islamic world (over most of its history) – so what were once the farming centres of the Roman Empire became (after centuries of Islamic rule) a wasteland inhabited by a few people always close to hunger (this is the sort of thing that politically correct academics do not want people to know).

    Nor is this recent – something like the Edict of Quierzy in 877 (which restated that legal position that even the King of France could not take a fief of land away from someone – that they were hereditary) would not have been possible in the Islamic world of the time – including not in Islamic Spain (which was supposed to be so wonderful).

    A LIMITATION on goverment power forbidding a ruler from redistibuting land – unthinkable. That would violate the sacred doctrine of “social justice”.

    Still I stand by my statement – I would rather have Odinga as President of the United States than his kinsman Obama.

    By the way – as Odinga is such a successful businessman, why did he accept the money from Obama (I noticed that Owinck did NOT deny that).


    Could he not fully fund his own election campaign?

    Of course we still do not know who funded some of the Obama campaign itself.

    Many of the internet donor names are clearly fake, and have no checkable addresses (see “The Obama Timeline” by Don Fredrick for details).

    Before the shouts of anger start – no one has actually contested what Don has said about this matter.

    The names clearly are fake, and checkable addresses are not provided for many of the names.

    And, almost needles to say, the government agencies refuse to investigate and the “mainstream” media would not cover the story during the campaign and still will not do so.

  • Paul Marks

    Oh, by the way, Odinga children.

    The son named “Fidel” (after the Communist dictator Fidel Casto).

    And he daughter named “Winnie” (after Winnie Mandela – the head case whose custom used to be to burn people alive, including CHILDREN, in theory because they were collabrators with white people, but in reality for KICKS).

    What sort of person names their children after Fidel Castro and Winnie Mandela?

    Owinck – you are lower than shit.

    Not an insult (or not just an insult) – it is my considered opinion.

  • Owinok

    Paul, you are perfectly entitled to your use of any words. I did not say that Odinga is a perfect believer in open markets. However, with respect, it is clear to me that you have not taken time to understand Kenyan history nor its politics. You surely do not and that does not change with calling people names. Odinga surely has a son called Fidel. There are also millions of kenyan and African children named Winnie and you are too quick to infer that they were named for Winnie Mandela. Not true sir.

    I also suspect that you do not understand much about Kenya’s public-funded education policy. It came about as a proposal when Odinga was not president. And I have serached agin, please provide evidence for the cousin link between Obama and Odinga and also about the “very” rounded USD 1 million for campaigns. Truth matters and lies only go so far. Its so ridiculous that its not worth denying. Read some history sir!

  • Owinok

    As a last comment. I mentioned the issue about Mr. Odinga’s firm just to show how ridiculous it is for people who were stealing and killing others in Kenya to try and call another a commie and for other people who would not be bothered to check facts to regurgitate the same thoughtlessly.

  • Paul Marks

    Owinok – I have already told you that the BBC was saying “the opposition” (which back in 2007 was Odinga and co) were promising free education for all (primary and secondary) and the “reclaiming of communal lands” from individual (black) owners.

    By the way it was made clear that these communal lands were going to be held in trust by the government (i.e. that they were not going to be under the real control of village elders at all).

    Hopefully that is not how things worked out in practice – because if it is….

    As for denying that the inspiration for the nameing of Fidel and Winnie Odinga was Fidel Castro and Winnie Mandela.

    Please see my comment of a few moments ago.

    Only someone who was “lower than shit” could engage in such a dishonest denial. You could have said “Odinga has changed” (and I might believe you), but no you had to pretend he had never been a socialist.

    Many thanks for proving my point.

    However, I repeat that not only can I see no alternative to Odinga in the Kenya context (i.e. the utterly senile government party people were a worse alternative), but I would prefer Odinga to Obama as President of the United States.

    There is a pragmatic streak in Odinga – whereas Barack Obama is a life long ideological fanatic.

    I speak as an ideological fanatic myself (although on the other side) so I know what I am talking about.

    “It takes one to know one”.

  • Paul Marks

    By the way I am “lower than shit” myself in some ways.

    For example, in my reaction to what happened to the Communists in Indonesia in 1966.

    One of the tests Barack is supposed to use to judge how serious an enemy is, is their emotional reaction to those events (he was in Indonesia as a child soon after these events and this shattering defeat for the Communists has always interested him – he partly attributes it to their not reaching out enough to the Muslim majority of the population).

    I “pass” that test (in that my first emotional reaction to hearing the story of these events was….. , so Barack Obama would consider me a serious enemy – at least he would if I was anyone of the slightest importance, which I am NOT).

    Which means I fail the test of common humanity – hence (in this repect) I am lower than shit.

    The emotional reaction of a human being, who was not lower than shit, on first hearing of the cutting to pieces of thousands of people (even ideological enemies) would not be what mine was.

  • Owinok

    Paul, Thanks for showing again that you have richer vocabulary only matched by your ignorance of the facts about Kenya. By 2007, Kenya already had public-funded primary education and secondary education was on the cards. This was not our initial argument. Because you are literate, it is clear that you understand what my first comment stated, which is that it is ignorant to refer to Mr. Odinga as a commie when that is the smear word used to refer to him by those who preferred theft of firms to building any. That was my point and I suspect I succeeded because you looked up somewhere and found diversionary facts about Mr. Odinga’s family and all. I was not debating that with you and neither did I declare Mr. Odinga a libertarian. My main contribution was about facts on the constitution in Kenya and the imprecise characterization of Mr. Odinga because facts matter. As for your confessions about Indonesia, I think that’s off-topic but I wont try to stop you.

  • Paul Marks

    Owinok you have tried to avoid the facts – everthing from the man going to East Germany for his education to his naming his children after Fidel Castro and Winnie Mandala.

    You could have said “he has changed”, but you did NOT say that – you tried to avoid basic facts.

    As for my “ignorance about Kenya” – I cited leftist establishment sources (wikipedia, the BBC and so on).

    I have been honest – (even when it is not to my advantage – as with Indonesia), you have been dishonest.

    We are both shit in some ways – but you are clearly more shit than I am.

    And that is nothing to do with skin colour.