‘The youngsters…are scanning Kenya’s online media for “dangerous speech…”’
…phrases likely to foster paranoia, distrust, hatred and violence in the run-up to next week’s election. They work for the monitoring group Umati and are part of a multi-strand high-tech attempt, much of it by volunteers, to ensure that Kenya doesn’t come to the brink of civil war as it did after its last election, in 2007. Working in five vernacular languages, Swahili and English, they are on the alert, in particular, for terms that reduce entire ethnic groups to the status of animals. “Cockroaches,” a favorite during Rwanda’s genocide, is also popular here. So are “worms,” “rats,” “vermin” and “jiggers”—a reference to a parasite that burrows under toenails.