Ever since I was a kid, I’ve never had a good experience with the Popo. I remember being arrested on my birthday.
“I’d like to be a gangster!” Those were my words, 20 years ago when my dad asked me what I would like to be when I grow up. Everyone laughed, in fact, my mom laughed the hardest. No one ever bothered to ask why I wanted to be in such a bad career. Deep down, I held my reasons dear to my soul, hoping that one day, I’d get a chance to brutalisé the police the way they did to innocent civilians. But a 4-year-old boy, where had I seen these vices and completely let my mind switch to the bad side thinking it was the good side? I didn’t, it was simply the plain truth.
At that time, my dad was the only person who owned a TV in our village. It felt so good to watch movies, watch Awilo Longomba, and the football matches between Kenya & Tanzania. I could invite my friends to our home to just watch the TV. Weekends were my best days as I would prepare Simsim together with my sisters and later on watch Chuck Norris or The Passion of Christ. Those were my best days!
20 years later, I still think that my dream of being a gangster hasn’t changed, the meaning of the word might be what has changed. In fact, I want to be more than that because of my experiences with the Police force. Let’s rewind and go back to instances where I was plainly mistreated in the hands of the police. These experiences have shaped who I am right now and even some completely changed my view of the Police Force rather than the Police Service.
So how did it all start?
While in highschool, a friend of mine lured me into stealing the computer lab router. Well it wasn’t really stealing but he actually stole it and gave it to me. I was an accomplice of course for keeping a stolen item and breaching my moral values but the punishment was way more than that of an accomplice. I was in form 4 then, third term and just about to sit for my exams. I knew that immediately I completely the exams, we would then go to town and sell the router to make some extra money. Little did I know, police had been notified already and I was about to be placed under arrest. But none of that happened.
The school principal, had been meeting my mom secretly and was exploiting her day in day out; with the help of the police. In just 2 weeks, my mom had paid a total of Ksh. 17,500 for a router that costs Ksh. 3500! A friend of mine once saw my mom around the school.vicinity but wasn’t really sure if it was my mom. So apparently, my mom had been coming to the school to plead with the administration, to just let me sit for my exams without arresting me! Imagine that pain of using my exams as ransom to exploit my mom!
When I was sitting for my last exam, (computer studies practical) I saw three policemen approaching the exam room. They never left toll the time I finished the paper. When I submitted it, those guys curved me and took me to the police station. Even after my mom had paid that amount of money, they still had the guts to arrest me! I had done a mistake but did we (my mom & I) deserve such a punishment? They hurt us emotionally, went ahead to beat me up and caused physical injuries all because of that? That fueled my hate for the police department and since then I never saw them as protectors. Anytime I could see a policeman, I would wish to spit on his/her face.
University was extreme!
A few years later after joining Moi University, I finally faced the real ordeal. We had sat for exams from the first year to the second year but none of us had received our results. We approached the heads of department on different occasions but all turned into a deaf ear. Ad what did Martin Luther King say? “Rioting is the language of the unheard.” We were only left with one choice, to riot and attract the attention of the entire country. We organized a peaceful demonstration around the university premises, didn’t break a single glass from 8 am to around 10.
The vice-chancellor (Prof. Mibey- he retired) was informed that we were rioting and he immediately called the police. They filled the school with tear gas, beat us like thieves, shot some of my colleagues with live bullets, burnt some of our belongings and arrested most of us. They turned everything into a matter of life and death, something we never thought would happen. This time, I was lucky I wasn’t arrested but I had been brutally injured on my knee while trying to jump through the school fence. I hated myself for letting this happen to me. I hated the police for their inhuman acts! I hated them for turning us into training props.
Comrades started rioting again, and this time around, I didn’t want to be involved with riots.
The second time, I was unlucky. This was during campus elections. As you all know, campus elections are no different from Kenyan politics. It’s simply a reflection of one another. I have never supported tribalism because I come from a minority community. This meant I had to go against the majority because in many instances, the majority are always wrong. But things didn’t go the way we had anticipated, the guy who was clearly supposed to win, didn’t win. This was around 9:30 pm. Comrades started rioting again, and this time round, I didn’t want to be involved with riots. So I asked a friend of mine, who was also my roommate to escape this fracas and leave immediately.
We escaped and in a short while, were already in the main road heading to our crib. We had not gone far when 4 police officers stood in front of us. One stepped on my feet and I couldn’t move. Then one (who I think was their senior) shouted and said we are the ones rioting everyday and destroying the environment around the campus. I then told him, riots just broke in campus head over their and quell things. The guys slapped me. I almost lost my mind! They then curved us and asked us to go.into the boot (it was a probox).
We were taken into custody at Eldoret Central Police station. The charges were drunk and disorderly conduct. We were each slapped with a 3000 Bob fine. That night was my longest. It was a Friday and staying in police cells meant we would be released either on Monday morning or the next day only if we bribe our way out. I have never been town between compromising my moral values and getting my freedom. Nonetheless, we were released after paying Ksh. 6000.
I have been arrested on multiple occasions and all the time, I’m always on the right side of the law but I’ve never had my way. All the arrests have been forceful and the police have always managed to go away with the brutality. Who will come to our rescue? Willy his continue happening while we claim to have a government that works for us?