Fellow countrymen, greetings from one of your servants, a Kenya Police officer.
I know it is wise to listen more and talk less but last year, we in the force listened too much. Everybody spent time addressing us: Politicians, Waki, pretenders to human rights, Mungiki (under various pseudonyms), the media and so on. It even became a measure of ‘good journalism’ to criticise the police spokesman when he was too practical. It is now my intention to make you listen to a policeman.
I will start by introducing myself. I am a Kenyan, no less than the rest of you. I travel in matatus, listen to radio, watch television, read newspapers and occasionally engage in gossip. I, therefore, know your opinion regarding “Kenya Police”. But do you know my opinion on “You Kenyans?”
Let me start with the post-election violence: Justice Waki identified why, this time last year, people engaged in the most savage murders. He had “incontrovertible evidence” that it was purely “failure by the police”. Kenyans are good, their police are bad.
This judgment was such a good tranquiliser, acres of newsprint have been exhausted analysing it. But this is not new. Whenever faced by serious internal threats, communities or nations identify an external one to mobilise against. This allows nations to forget internal differences and close ranks to deal with the “threats”.
Some ancient communities used to identify the cause of their problems at the end of the year. The identified person, object or institution would be heaped with societal blame and killed. The communities then achieved a catharsis. They, thus, ‘proved’ to themselves that they were not bad after all, it was the ‘devil’ who was to blame.
In the build up to the 2007 General Election, you, Kenyans, regressed into ethnic blocks, preached politics of ethnicity and hatred. You regularly found it easy to criticise the police for not championing your narrow ethnic interests, few could readily abide by police direction on law and order. Human rights activists were heavily cited by the courts to set suspects free. Nobody ever tried to demand RESPONSIBILITY by political activists.
For several months, your bigoted savagery knew no bounds. But never mind that — Waki had a ‘eureka’ moment, finding devils to beat in the Kenya Police and Administration Police. These, he would have us believe, are the demons that made people burn churches, block roads, uproot railways, loot and murder.
To this day, nobody has suggested what police officers are supposed to do when whole communities go mad. When killings are executed by a community actively participating, cheering on or hiding the suspects.
Blame the police if you like, but don’t forget the issues still remain. As a policeman, I know that it is absurd to talk about the post-election violence in past tense: The violence continues in our midst unabated.
My next target is the lot calling themselves ‘courts’. These guys are so hypnotised by their temporary titles that they have forgotten they are villagers, just like the rest of us. It is, therefore, perfect for them to answer “questions of law” by contemptuously releasing rapists, murderers and violent robbers. My message to them is singular: You cannot have your cake and eat it. You either join the rest of the society in fighting crime and promoting law and order or you shut up about crime. You cannot be ‘popo’ for too long, you either want criminals in the society or you don’t. Whatever decision you take in that court, be prepared to live with it in your estates, families, villages and highways.
Finally, for the Tenth Parliament: I know you ascended into sugar candy mountains one year ago, and that you have a well-paid Speaker who considers police constables who guard and drive him “sufficiently philanthropic” to pay taxes on a salary less than his sitting allowance for three hours. I know that you are in a hurry to sack entire institutions to reward your cronies, that you are the Parliament with the highest number of criminals who remain innocent until proved guilty.
However, remember that it is unforgivable to water down the laws of the land due to hypocrisy and short-term benefits. You had better come down from your mountains while our patience lasts. If you wait until we fetch you from those heights, the descent might be a bit bumpy.
The writer is a police officer.