The other day I was on a matatu headed to the house. A guy boarded the vehicle mid way; I really didn’t know what happened between him and the conductor. I only heard the conductor yell, “Hii gari huwa haibebi Wajaluo kama wewe!” That was one of the worst open tribalism incidents I have seen in my life. Any other time I would have protested and gotten out of the vehicle, well not that day. People had earlier on been killed just for coming from a given tribe or supporting a certain political candidate.
Together with all the other passengers we kept mum. Even though we might have been uncomfortable, we endured through it all, only fighting the injustice within ourselves.
As a society we have employed the mute mode on evils in the society. One of the worst ills we are facing today is police brutality. Our political scene has been characterized with several deaths. Police have employed the use of extra force in dealing with the people they should be protecting. They have beaten, killed and maimed people. In all these we expect calls for a stop to the killing but no we are proven wrong.
Our celebs have kept silent in calling out a stop on police brutality. They are busy protecting brands when their fans are dying. The once great boy band Sautisol would rather release sexual videos to save their stumbling musical career than speak out on the evils in the society. They are becoming part of the evils we have to deal with.
How can you say to your fans ‘I love you all’ on social media yet show none of that in action? Is it for the likes? What happens when all your fans are gone? Will you speak out then?
The political class has failed us miserably in the fight. I did not follow live the swearing in ceremony of President Uhuru Kenyatta, but I had to get my hands on his speech. I had to go through it more than once; to ensure that indeed I had not missed the acknowledgment of the political deaths in Kenya since the August 8 elections rather he did not talk about it at all. It feels so bad when the lives lost are treated like the slaughtering of chicken.
The truth is that it’s high time we have the uncomfortable conversation on police brutality.
My home county, Kisumu, has seen its fair share of police brutality and killings. The stage is always set for police brutality before any national political contest. My people cannot celebrate or show disappointment (most cases) in whatever political outcome. Before any public announcement there is heavy deployment of police to Kisumu. Media follows in second. Ready to capture the best photos and videos of the rowdy Kisumu people.
When the rest of the country looks at Kisumu, it sees a land of violence; a group of people who don’t have peace in their DNA, a place full of rowdy youth who thrive in destruction, a backward place with everyone an expert in throwing stones. But then they need to ask themselves some few questions. How did Kisumu manage to become a city when it is full time violence? How do people in Kisumu fend for themselves when all they do is violence all the time? The last time I checked violence couldn’t feed people.
The media has played a big role in painting a picture of violence in the minds of the people in relation to Kisumu. The media is hell bent on portraying violence as a Luo affair. For example, it took ages to report the cases on police killings in Bungoma, only showing it after widespread talks in social media.
Unlike what the media is portraying, Kisumu people are one of the most welcoming and loving people around Kenya. They are a people who have suffered and struggled to be where they are, just like most Kenyans. They are very forgiving people. Their only undoing is that they lack the pretentious gene in their DNAs. They don’t sugarcoat anything they want to address. Another undoing may be the lack of diplomacy in how they react. Truth be told. But before you judge, remember there is always more to a story.
The media has failed to call out the police killings. I am yet to see any media campaign directed towards stopping police brutality. Then you wonder why most people stopped watching our media? Sometime back activist Boniface Mwangi led a protest condemning police brutality only to end up being a victim. Media covered it live in their channels, but what did they say?
Make no mistake, just because the current police killings are directed towards a certain community or political group doesn’t mean that it will not get to another place next time. Power, just like death, moves to all homes from time to time. At the moment it might seem to be so far or even the thought may appear to be farfetched, but it will come. We have the opportunity to call it out and it be stopped otherwise when the time for the other people to face the brutality comes, they may also just sit down, relax and watch.
Do not speak out only if you are assured you will never need anyone to speak for you.
A group of people who happen to be from the ‘right’ political side think that those killed by the police during protests have called the deaths upon themselves. ‘msiba wa kujitakia’ they say. They have a feeling that the best thing to do in such a time is to keep away from the streets. The truth is that hiding away is not a way to achieve any reforms. How would Kenya have achieved independence if the Mau Mau kept away in the comfort of their homes when the colonialists wanted them to? Would we be having Uhuru park if the women who camped at the place heeded Moi’s threats and brutal treatment? All noteworthy political reforms in Kenya have been achieved with guys on the streets.
Again, they fail to notice that police in some cases have forcefully ejected people from their houses for the beatings. The people in slums in Kisumu and perceived opposition strongholds have such gory tales. Children have been killed at one of the supposed safest places, HOME.
We have a government which seems hell-bent on trying to instill fear in its citizens. A government that may not be ready to accommodate different views. Some people have been arguing that the police are justified to kill and injure the opposition supporters because of violence and looting. Then you are left wondering why they teargas the Maa community peacefully demonstrating against the killing of their cows? There are more civilised ways of dealing with a rowdy crowd. A bullet is not one. That’s meant for war. And we are not at war. We are neighbours, friends, family. But we use war strategies against our own. The very arms and energy used to fight our own can be used to fight our mutual enemy. Those who are killing our children in schools. Those killing our neighbours as they travel in buses. Saying this makes me wonder, is there really a difference between the said bad guys and the police?
Unfortunately, it’s getting to a time when people wouldn’t fear anymore, when guys are ready to face the fire head on and brave whatever weapon that is thrown their way. That is a clear indication that we are breeding a group of people accustomed to death, pain, and hate. With time the killings would not be a threat enough. It will be a norm. That is a dangerous time.
I was talking to Princess earlier this week on how at times we have different views on the evils in the country and she told me in part, “…because I know the moment I start justifying wrongs, am lost.” I couldn’t agree more. It is high time the citizens of this country stop finding a way of justifying wrongs. It is really heartbreaking to hear someone defend the killings of children.
Once Kenya has decided that killing children is bearable, IT IS OVER. No debate.
Chapter four of the constitution of Kenya on rights and fundamental freedoms, provides for human dignity. Every person has inherent dignity and the right to have that dignity respected and protected.
There is not even a single shred of dignity from how the police handle the masses. The police brutality met on women and children, the clobbering on our brothers, maiming and beatings of everyone on the streets comes with no dignity. For that, I want to pass a note to the police. WE DESERVE BETTER. We have dignity to uphold. It must be protected. We must not beg for it.
We deserve to be served and protected by the police irrespective of our political affiliation as long as we are within the provisions of the constitution. We only should be afraid of criminals not police.