Language Use and Context in the Campaign Songs of the Chuka Community in Kenya

Onesmus G. Ntiba


In this study, I propose to analyze language use and context as depicted in the campaign songs of the Chuka Community in Kenya. Chuka community is one of the seven subgroups of the larger Meru Ethnic Community found in Kenya. The other subgroups of the Ameru are the Mwimbi, Tharaka, Imenti, Tigania, Igoji and the Igembe people. The Chuka people speak the Kichuka dialect. When the tradition of choosing political leaders through the ballot set in Kenya during the colonial period, many ethnic communities in Kenya started using campaign songs as a way of drumming support for the favoured political candidate. The Chuka people were not left behind. To date, these campaign songs have played and have continued to playing a vital role during every electioneering period. The politicians and their supporters compose these political songs with a view of appealing to the electorate emotions if not their reasoning. In analyzing these campaign songs, I have been informed by some tenets of the Critical Discourse Analysis theory thereafter referred to as C.D.A. Basically, this theory looks at language as used in a certain context for sole purpose of passing a certain message. The linguistic units in a discourse play a pivotal role in passing of this intended message. On guidance of this principle, I was able to closely examine how certain words; proper nouns, verbs and adjectives have been used purposefully in these Kichuka campaign songs to sway the mind of the electorate for a political gain. The analyst is of the view that the composers of these campaign songs are products of the place, time and Chuka cultural environment. Indeed, the analyst is treating the Kichuka Campaign songs as discourses in a known and specific context. This is in line with another tenet of the CDA theory that boasts of the fact that exhaustive interpretation of a discourse should factor the issue of context. This analysis subscribes to the fact that purposive usage of linguistic units like words or group of words in a certain political context gives the politicians a leeway to wrest political power from the electorate for their own selfish ends. This analysis submits that the campaign songs in the Chuka Community have to a reasonable degree influenced the course of the political events in the community and subsequently the low achievement in terms of development in the area.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n5p55

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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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