Four vernacular FM radio stations and one religious one have named as having  incited their audiences during the post-election violence in Kenya early this year, writes Dennis Itumbi.


The three, who were also named in the Kenya National Human Rights Commission (KNHCR) report on the violence published in August, were blamed for "being partisan, unprofessional and openly using hate speeches in their broadcasts".

Inooro FM, a Kikuyu station owned by Royal Media Services, Kameme FM, another Kikuyu station and owned by Royal Reach services, Kalenjin Speaking Kass FM the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation's (KBC) Coro FM, and Radio Injili, a Christian station, were named in the report for fuelling the violence.

Unlike the Human Rights report which explained the nature of the hate messages broadcast and their dates in some detail, the other report merely declares the stations guilty and adds that "all the relevant broadcast material and evidence has been handed over to the President of the republic."

The report however praises the mainstream media and regional stations "for being true to duty and committed to the values and role of journalism in the society".

The report by the commission on post-election violence and headed by Kenyan Court of Appeal Judge Justice Philip Waki, was part of the mediation process chaired by former United Nations (UN) Secretary General Kofi Annan. 

 An earlier report on the disputed December 2007 Presidential election by retired South African Judge Johann Kriegler gave a similar verdict and recommended that "vernacular stations employ professionals trained in journalism and exposed to sensitive conflict reportage courses".

 Kriegler pointed a finger at recruitment policies in media houses in the country for allowing unskilled journalists to infiltrate newsrooms.

 Vernacular stations have only been allowed to operate since 2003 after the historic triumph of President Mwai Kibaki's National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) at the ballot.

His predecessor, retired President Daniel Moi, had argued that the stations did not promote nationalism
In August 2000, he called for the banning of all vernacular FM radio stations for promoting "tribal chauvinism" and undermining "national unity".

He directed attorney-general Amos Wako to draft legislation that would force radio stations to broadcast in the two national languages – English and Kiswahili.

However, Information minister Johnstone Makau successfully countered the proposal, saying that "vernacular is part of the Kenyan culture."