Is Disease War? A Critical Analysis of the Covid-19 Discourse in Kenya

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International Journal of Research and Innovation in Social Science (IJRISS) | Volume V, Issue III, March 2021 | ISSN 2454–6186

Is Disease War? A Critical Analysis of the Covid-19 Discourse in Kenya

Albert Mogambi Moinani, Margaret Nasambu Barasa
Department of Languages and Lingusitics ,Kisii University

IJRISS Call for paper

Abstract— This paper critically analyzes the Covid-19 public address discourse by government officials in Kenya with a view to establishing the implications on public attitude and behavior towards fighting the pandemic. The paper utilizes the Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) framework to examine the lexical choices the officials made and their implications for public attitudes and behavior towards the COVID-19 19 pandemic. The argument is that during times of crisis and uncertainty, the public looks up to those in authority for guidance and protection. The authorities also expect the public to comply and obey the government guidelines so as to manage the Covid 19 crisis. Public attitude and behavior therefore become an important component in crisis management, especially during periods of uncertainty occasioned by war and disease outbreaks. Studying language use by those in power is important because language is a powerful force that shapes people’s mind and society’s attitude and behavior. The study analyzed 90 utterances from key government officials regarding the Covid 19 prevention measures. The texts were extracted from the live briefings from the Audio-visual media in Kenya namely KBC TV, CITIZEN, KTN and NTV. The press briefings were between 3-00pm to 4:00pm on week days. The findings of the study reveal that the government officials perceived the pandemic as war whereas the public viewed it as a falsehood, hence non-existent. The findings of this study would be useful in shedding light on the role language plays in managing risks during times of crisis and uncertainty occasioned by pandemics such as the Covid-19 disease.

Keywords— Covid-19, attitude, behavior, discourse, containment measures.

The words, phrases, idioms, and metaphors that those in authority use during their public addresses will inform and influence people’s attitude and behavior. Public attitude and behavior are key components in managing crises and risks during times of uncertainty. The conceptualization of the magnitude of a disease largely depends on how it is described through language use. Consequently, the understanding that the Covid 19 as a disease or war is thus defined by the containment measures discourses from the key government officials. This paper sought to analyze the Covid 19 discourses from key