Language and the Construction of Bukusu Identities in Social Media

Author: Henry K NDalila (Moi University, Kenya)
Speaker: Henry K NDalila
Topic: Language, Community, Ethnicity
The GLOCAL AFALA 2023 General Session


Ethnic identity among the Bukusu is characterized by a number of unique features among them shared cultural features such as marriage practices khuboa chininja; life, death and dying practices such as khwuswala kumuse, lufu, sisinini, khukhala kimikoye, khumaala silindwa and the age set system (Simiyu, 1990; Wasike 2013). However, the advent of social media has resulted to new forms of Bukusu identities being constructed using different linguistic forms. This study therefore examines the linguistic forms through which Bukusu identities are constructed in the social media context. Using virtual ethnography, posts containing written texts on Bukusu identities from various Facebook and WhatsApp groups are analyzed using aspects of the Discourse-Historical (Wodak et al, 2009) and Discourse 2.0 (Herring, 2013) approaches. It is evident that various graphological, lexical and syntactic features play a key role in realizing the various features that are involved in the construction of Bukusu identities in social media. This study goes a long way in the understanding of the linguistic basis upon which features of Bukusu identities are (de)constructed within the social media context given its unique technological features.

Keywords: virtual ethnography, ethnic identity, Bukusu