Verbal Venom: Examining The Role of Vernacular Radio Stations In Conflict Management and Enhancing Peaceful Coexistence In Kenyan Society
The study sought to examine the role of vernacular radio stations in conflict management and enhancing peaceful co-existence in Kenyan society. Vernacular radio stations have in the past been incriminated in the past for promoting discussions and providing a platform for hate speech. Such discussions have been found to be stereotypical, lacking in facts and often sensationalized. The study therefore sought to examine vernacular radio station content and talk to a sampled editors and radio station manager. The study found that some discussions did not differentiate comment, conjecture and factual contributions on the various sensitive issues during discussions that threatened peaceful co-existence and conflict situation in Kenya. Some of the discussions analyzed contained unsubstantiated claims. The unsubstantiated claimed bordered on negative ethnic contributions, insensitive contributions to topics without understanding the content and also criticizing concerned parties without proof of fault. Such unsubstantiated claims threaten peaceful co-existence and conflict situations in the country. Similarly, some talk-shows and interview discussions challenged common stereotypes while some did not. Even though only about quarter of those surveyed did not challenge the stereotypes, the power of radio stations to manipulate people’s attitudes and opinions means the stations have to think critically about their capacity to challenge people’s viewpoints. While vernacular radio status have in the past been accused of orchestrating violent conflict in Kenya, improvement has been evident in the manner of operations and conduct exhibited during their discussions. While challenges still exist, the vernacular radio stations should be considered as vital platforms of engagement with local communities on various developmental issues and should be supported in realizing this objective. Above all, they should be used as platforms to enhance national cohesion, peaceful co-existence and demystify ethno-cultural issues in the society.