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Why Uhuru is fond of speaking in mother tongue during public addresses

Ndung'u Wa Gathua.
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President Uhuru Kenyatta addressing mourners who attended Joseph Kamaru's funeral ceremony at Muthithi, Muranga on Thursday. [Source/ PSCU]

Unlike his predecessors Presidents Daniel Moi and Mwai Kibaki, Uhuru Kenyatta since assuming power in 2013 has demystified the presidency making it look just like any other ordinary office.

Before Uhuru, the Office of the President of Kenya was not only revered but was equally feared. The occupier of the office was also very feared perhaps only after God. But not anymore with President Uhuru who has totally redefined the country's highest office.

One aspect of this redefinition is Uhuru's habit to make use of his native language (Kikuyu) while addressing some public gatherings. This was a rare spectacle or even unheard of with both Moi and Kibaki.

For instance, during Kikuyu secular music artist Joseph Kamaru's funeral on Thursday in Muranga, Uhuru could be heard shuffling from Kiswahili to Kikuyu while addressing mourners, something that seemed to excite them a lot.

Last year during his re-election campaigns, Uhuru was also quoted severally addressing voters in his backyard using mother tongue.

So, why is Uhuru who is a leader of a multi-ethnic nation apparently fond of using mother tongue publicly?

1. He is proud of his roots, culture and language

Uhuru was brought up in a privileged family but it seems that this never deterred him from learning his language which he expresses himself in with ease. 

Some people from backgrounds similar to Uhuru's can barely utter a word in their mother tongue, something that some are even proud of.

2. He understands the purpose of language in communication

It is not lost to Uhuru that the language one decides to use anywhere is key to driving their message home. It is often said that if you want to speak to your audiences' hearts, use their language.

3. He understands his audience

Uhuru has never been quoted using his mother tongue to an audience that does not understand his native language.

He only uses the language whenever he is at his backyard which is perfectly in order as not all people especially the elderly, can understand either Kiswahili or English.

After all, some things are best said and received well in mother tongue.


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