Inoculating audiences against incitement, through Vioja Mahakamani
Some of Kenya’s most widely recognized media stars are the cast members of Vioja Mahakamani, a hit comedic courtroom drama. We worked with the Kenya Broadcast Corporation (KBC) and Media Focus on Africa to create four episodes on the topic of Dangerous Speech, which aired nationwide, and are now being used by conflict-prevention organizations on the ground in Kenya. This initiative, principally funded by the Fetzer Institute, is centered on instilling love and forgiveness in the minds and hearts of viewers.
From these programs, we hope to develop a model that can be used in other countries where ethnic hatred is growing, and there is increased risk of violence.
Monitoring and evaluating inflammatory speech in Kenya
The Dangerous Speech framework was used for Umati, a pathbreaking project to monitor the Kenyan online world for hate speech and then evaluate the dangerousness (capacity to spur violence) of each example the monitors find. The project began in September 2012 and has collected – unfortunately – a large archive. Alarmed by the number and virulence of examples, the Umati team worked quickly in early 2013 to design and implement methods to counter Dangerous Speech. Umati convened influential bloggers and other online thought leaders, to draw their attention to the problem of hate speech online, and to ask them to resolve not to use or tolerate it. Because false rumors are a common and pernicious form of dangerous speech, we also worked with Umati on an initiative called “Nipe Ukweli” – “gimme truth” – for Kenyans to refute falsehoods. As a new web page and hashtag, Nipe Ukweli served as a counterweight to dangerous speech during the election.