Celebrating East African Writing!

My Job as a Policeman by Peterson Mutua

My name is Kitoo, I am a police officer. It’s a job I enjoy sometimes. Sometimes, I regret choosing this job. Generally, it is a thankless job. The public views my comrades and I with scorn and disgust, which really pisses me off. 

“Why don’t they treat us with just a little bit of respect?” I always wonder aloud but that is a question that I am almost certain that I will never be answered.

My job starts early in the morning. No, actually, it has no start and no end. You can be called to duty even when you are on leave of absence. It makes me wonder if it really is a leave. What if I was out of the country? There is usually no questioning the boss; if you question you risk facing mean looking officials hell bent to ruin your career because they view you as a potential risk. Besides, I am only a junior officer. 

I am not that learned and sometimes that makes me less informed about the day to day issues that affect me and all the other people near and far from me. The only time that I can claim I was nicely abreast with information was when our brother from another mother was busy making inroads to be the most powerful man in the world. Then again, everybody was in touch with the news that time so I can’t claim that it was such an achievement.

Sometimes, we are involved in very tricky situations when dealing with the people that want to break or twist the law. I can authoritatively say, and by the way this authoritative is a word I stole from one newscaster and felt that it is a good word to use here so don’t get too carried away. So where was I?  Yah, the people that break the law create such tricky situations. It is sometimes a battle I tell you, some carry guns that are superior to the ones we have. It is usually our skills from Kiganjo which help us in this scenarios. Of course, some of our colleagues are felled by the irons that spit death but that never makes the headlines. At least not as much as when we fell the breakers and twisters of the law.

I have no complains about the comrades who fall in the line of duty. It is just a case of unfortunate happenings that occur and we have to deal with that. After all in a battle there are always casualties and if the casualties are on our side it is unfortunate. We bear it like men or women of the disciplined forces.

So a few days ago, I heard that someone from the UN is coming to investigate some unfair killings done. I hear his name is Raporter or something near  to that. My friend told me about it. I ask him what that means, he, just like me, does not understand the man’s mandate clearly. So finally the brightest of our division tells me that he is a reporter, coming to report about killings. 

Yaani kwani maripota wameisha Kenya?” I wonder silently. “Akina Lillian Muli, Kasavuli, Taabu and the rest!!,”  Kwani, what are they doing so that a foreigner can come and intrude in their home turf!! 

These are questions that my friend does not have answers for. It turns out that he is not that  bright a guy after all. I am not good in keeping track of things so I quickly forget all about the said reporter and go on being a faithful law abiding citizen and more so a very disciplined member of the force.

A week passes and I hear that the reporter has finished compiling his findings, ala? Si nilifikiri he was coming to report, how come he is compiling a report! Wonders will never cease. When the police are touched in bad light I get disappointed because I am a member of the force and I know the police are a disciplined lot, pray why are they called disciplined if they are not anyway? 

In his report apparently, oh, by the way, I now know the name correctly it is rapporteur – there I said it correctly, apparently he was an investigator investigating us over arbitrary killings of innocent mwananchi.

Jamani si hii ni kuonewa!!, hebu, imagine this eh, doctors kill innocent wananchi left right and center, the weather people kill very rich people, well, they are rich because they can afford to fly, and our politicians are now killing wananchi by stealing maize and letting them starve, so why us? Si hii ni maradhau ya aina yake? Ai sawa tu wanyonge hawana haki yamkini. So the report is out and this time I am watching TV promptly at 9:00 pm news,  “There are pointers that the police have been guilty of extra-judicial killings.” he says. 

What!! Who the hell is extra-judicial? I call the my comrades on duty that night to check whether in the last one week we have anyone by the name extra-judicial joining the force. The answer is negative. I lie peacefully knowing that Rapporteur was wrong this time round. The next day I report to duty in a very good mood after all, the police are clean. I go straight to the boss and bombard insults to the UN man; to my surprise the boss is not as happy as I am.

“Sit down, officer.” comes the harsh bark from my superior. I coil my tail and sit, my mouth shut.

“Why is he in such a mood?” I wonder silently. Slowly like a child and his father the boss explains to me the meaning of extra-judicial. Apparently it means killing people kiholela holela. Okay so that’s what it means! At the end of it all I am not anywhere near happy and as things stand right now my boss is happier; this leaves a bitter taste in my mouth and a heavy heart in my chest, why? Why is it that it’s only us who are targeted in all things? When a policeman dies it is normal and accepted, when a criminal dies it is wrong? What kind of a world is this? You condone violence and condemn the law keeper?  

I am however consoled by the fact that even Jesus was rejected so I am not alone in this rejection circle. But before you brand me bad, picture this, a rowdy youth with bows and arrows are coming towards us as though they have been possessed, arrows pointed towards you, do you shoot rubber, and really what do you do? They have live weapons laced with poison and you tell me to use rubber? C’mon get serious!! Dawa ya moto ni moto so I must respond with the right ammunition. It’s not my fault I was just defending myself. But then again the society is hell bent to fix the innocent. It’s a proven fact. Since 2000 years ago.

So there I am again the villain of the society, the same society that I strive too hard to defend. No matter what I do, I am always on the losing side, save for some few moments of fame I get on a good day, when the society comes back to its senses. It’s a thankless job this one of mine I tell you.

© Peterson Mutua 2009


2 comments on “My Job as a Policeman by Peterson Mutua

  1. Osas
    March 5, 2009

    Very iridescent style, ambiguous perspectivity, artsy – my compliments! And a *real* police perspective would be much desirable, as I had earlieron suggested elsewhere to elsebody…


  2. Osas
    March 16, 2009

    Would anyone who has read this book please compare Peterson’s story to Charles Githae’s A Worm in the Head (Heinemann 1987)?

    Thanks, Osas


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