ETHNIC BIAS

Use of mother tongues in Isiolo public offices condemned

Call for ethnic balance during recruitment into government offices.

In Summary

• Residents say this denies other ethnic groups crucial services. 

• Isiolo Referral Hospital affected too. 

February 21 is International Mother tongue day. /COURTESY
February 21 is International Mother tongue day. /COURTESY

The widespread use of vernacular languages in Isiolo county offices has raised concern with the county and national government urged to ensure that it stops.

Some residents claim the habit was deliberate and intended to deny those from different ethnic backgrounds crucial services.

Both the county and national government offices are affected, according to Paul Mugambi.

“Isiolo is a cosmopolitan county, hosting Kenyans from over 40 ethnic communities. The use of vernacular denies those who do not understand the language access to government services,” Mugambi said.

He called for ethnic balance during the recruitment of personnel to serve in government offices. He said the "unofficial" languages should only be used when a service seeker is not conversant with either English or Kiswahili.

Julius Gitonga said the departments of Land and Health are the worst with members of certain communities easily being served as others struggle.  He accused some officers of only serving their tribespeople.

Samson Utella cited the staff of the Isiolo County Teaching and Referral Hospital as being insensitive to the sick. They use the mother tongue, leaving the patients wondering what was being discussed.

The county hosts virtually all Kenya's ethnic communities, with the Borana being the majority followed by the Somali, Turkana, Meru and Samburu.

(Edited by R.Wamochie)