Just hours after the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) listed ‘hatupangwingwi’ among words and phrases likely to spread hate during the electioneering period, Deputy President William Ruto released a remix of the hit song ‘Sipangwingwi’.
Last month, when the DP was unveiled as the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party presidential candidate, the second-in-command danced to what is now his signature campaign song by local artistes Exray ‘Taniua’ and Trio Mio. The popular track is widely used at his rallies.
Sipangwingwi (no one makes plans for me), once a part of the urban lexicon, is now ingrained in Kenya’s political language.
Perhaps in recognition of this and its role in the current political rhetoric, NCIC chairperson Rev Samuel Kobia on Friday included it among words that are considered political expressions of hate.
Other words on the list include ‘madoadoa’ -- a word that recently landed ODM leader Raila Odinga in trouble, cockroaches and fumigation, which may trigger dissonance among communities and political followers of various parties.
“We know that death and life are in the power of the tongue. The commission has classified terms which have been regularly used in Kenya’s political landscape with the intent to provoke violence among communities of diverse political viewpoints,” he said.
But DP Ruto has come out to express his defiance. First, in a tweet from his social media account and then through his allies.
“We know that death and life are in the power of the tongue. The commission has classified terms, which have been regularly used in Kenya’s political landscape with the intent to provoke violence among communities of diverse political viewpoints,” he said.
Last year, the DP, at a function to illustrate his claim that he is a self-made man, used the words sipangwingwi.
“Vile Wakenya wamesema hawapangwingwi na mimi nataka niwaambie, mimi kama hustler sipangwingwi. Wao wanaweza kupangwa na deep state, wapangwe na system, lakini sisi hatupangwingwi,” said Dr Ruto, to mean that he, being a hustler, has no one to order him around unlike his opponents whose plans may be the making of the deep state.
The word was included in a lexicon termed hate speech by the NCIC.
“Violence-free elections ahead of the August 2022 polls remains our core business. We have intensified our programmes to ensure this goal is attained. We call for an end of divisive talks and call for political tolerance,” Rev Kobia said.
The musicians behind the hit song have been sucked into different political factions, if their recent meetings are anything to go by.
Singer Trio Mio performed at former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja event in Nairobi in December, and four days later Exray, who composed the song, was pictured with DP Ruto.