Meditations On The Kenya Police

Guest Writer
8 September ,2015

These essays were taken from Brainstorm’s third e-book, Ha!Kuna Matata, which is on security in Kenya and is available for free. DOWNLOAD IT HERE to read more such essays.


by Martin Maitha

Maybe, it’s 9 p.m. The guys are chilling at “Base” trading random talk and idle chatter to pass time.

Maybe, it’s 10 p.m. An engine splutters, reminiscent of someone in the throes of a particularly nasty bout of tuberculosis.

Oya! Wasee, ni Mariamu!”

No one knows the truck is called Mariamu; no one really cares either.

Nyinyi mang’aa, hebu simameni hapo ama tuanze kufyatua!”

They love shooting. They will shoot at a fly in their soup. They will shoot at the sky because it’s too rainy.  The only sound is that of crickets, and faint riddims from the pub three doors down the road.

Three figures in long deep navy blue overcoats; AK-47 rifles dangling casually from their shoulders, smiling conspiratorially among themselves and leering at the group of young men. Oh, this will be fun.

Mnafanya nini hapo? Nyinyi ni wale vijana mnasumbuasumbua wananchi hapa, eeh?”


Ah, si hivo afande. Si tumekaa tu tukiongea.”

Hiyo utasemea hapo mbele kwa station. Hebu twende!

The rickety lorry is driven off.

More stops…

…more ‘criminals.’

Stories flow in the truck. An uneasy camaraderie develops among the victims of the same fate, a kinship of lambs headed to the slaughter.

Nani hapa hajawai shikwa?”

A hand goes up.

Haya story ni hivi. Ukishikwa, yenye iko kwa mfuko, toa. Ka hauna any, ni cell tu. Kesho ngware upelekwe Makadara Law Court, upatwe na sijui drunk and disorderly, hata kaa hujakunywa. Sema uko guilty, fine ni punch tu. Shida ni kufinyana kwa cell usiku nzima. Relax.”

Na kaa niko innocent? I have rights.”

“Hahahahaha! Ati rights? Hizo ziliisha class ya GHC buda. Jifanye tu mang’aa utajipata una bhangi kwa mfuko ama ushootiwe tu. Ni hali ya life. We nyamaza tu, nyeyenyekea na hakitaumana.”

The truck comes to a stop.


It’s a mélange of all characters: some ladies of the night, some drunks. Others were simply unfortunate to be caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Haya! Anzeni kutoa. Toa ndugu, toa dada, ulicho nacho…” one of the police officer bellows out – a drunken rendition of the popular hymn.

It’s all notes. No coins.

Na next time msirudie kutangatanga usiku. It’s very dangerous.”

Double slap.

Utumishi kwa wote.


Utimishi Kwa Wote

by Ian Arunga

Utumishi kwa wote walio na kitu kidogo!

I have hated Kawangware matatus since the time I was thrown out of one and was almost beaten up because I was carrying an A3 x-ray envelope on my lap that got the ‘kange’ mistaking me for a pick pocket. An A3 x-ray envelope is what pickpockets use to distract their targets… Innocently leaving hospital with a lung infection, holding this x-ray envelope is a crime! And the huge warning in red on one corner of the envelope saying, ‘DO NOT FOLD’ doesn’t help either!

I thought really hard on whether to take that Kawangware bus. My ‘pickpocket’ scar was still so raw. The other option was a ‘boda boda’ but my colleague from the office had fallen off one the same day and according to him, “almost died!” I was in the bus before I even finished this thought process!

I sat at the front, right between the driver and a cop who was not going to get off until he got his bribe. I thought to myself, “This is the safest place I can be!” When we almost got to Othaya junction – which was my stop – the woman sitting right behind me let out a really sharp scream…

I frantically tried to look at what was happening at the back with no success. The front of the bus was completely separated from the back with a formerly transparent window.

Then the woman, in a loud voice, screamed, “Hutaniibia nikiwa hai!” (You will not steal from me while I am alive!) Right after that, a young man was asked to disembark. All this time, the cop and the driver sat calmly, neither of them moving a muscle.

What happened to “Utumishi kwa wote”?

I sat there for five minutes next to this cop whose stomach was so large, it looked like he had swallowed a goat whole. He wasn’t interested trying to do anything but get a small bribe from the driver for driving a bus with an expired insurance sticker.

The cop got off at my stop. Before he jumped out, the driver handed him something right over me, clenching it like it was a bag of weed.

“Renew insurance!” was the last order from the ‘Utumishi kwa wote’ guy!

As I walked to my mother’s house I tried to figure out what situation I feared more: being pickpocketed at knifepoint or getting pocketed at knifepoint and having to bribe the police to get help. I think I prefer just being pickpocketed.

Something tells me I will not have the energy to bribe for help.

These essays were taken from Brainstorm’s third e-book, Ha!Kuna Matata, which is on security in Kenya and is available for free. DOWNLOAD IT HERE to read more such essays.

Spread the love
%d bloggers like this: