The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has urged the media to be at the forefront in enlightening the citizenry in matters cohesion and the understanding of national values as enshrined in the Kenyan constitution to promote harmonious coexistence.
Addressing members of the press in Kapsabet during a sensitization forum on hate speech management, Commissioner Eng. Philip Okundi said the media has the power to influence the populace positively or negatively through agenda setting.
“You have a rich County in terms of resources and renowned athletes, why don’t you focus on highlighting such vital achievements instead of issues meant to portray the County negatively?” he queried.
He noted that each time the country nears its general election, people get worried of what will happen next, given the past experiences of post-election violence.
“I’d like the media to be champions of peace by being objective in their reporting and not igniting the masses negatively through malicious and sensational print or broadcast material.”
On her part Commissioner Dorcas Kedogo said the commission will bring everyone on board to promote peaceful coexistence.
“I call upon the media to be principled and observe code of ethics as they report on issues that are conflictual and should not take sides to attract sales,” said Kedogo.
The Assistant Director Civic Education and Advocacy Kilian Nyambu pointed out some of the elements affecting diversity and inclusivity to include negative ethnicity, cross border conflicts, radicalization, and un-equal distribution of resources, poverty and unemployment.
Other factors are land and boundary conflicts, unaddressed historical injustices, ethnization of politics, proliferation of organized militia, corruption and bad governance among others.
To address the issues, the media should inform, educate and enlighten the citizenry to make informed decisions and not follow blindly on what the political leaders say or ask them do.
NCIC at the moment is focusing on spreading the peace message in counties considered to be ‘hotspots’ especially during elections and those that face perennial cross border conflicts.
While on its four days stay in Nandi, the team will address all stakeholders including political leaders, boda boda operators and traders to champion the importance of national cohesion.
The Commission was established under the National Cohesion and Integration Act No 12 .of 2008 following the 2007/2008 post-election crisis. It aims at promoting national values and mitigate ethnically motivated violence.
By Bethsheba Abuya