Neither Protected Nor Prepared.
It's no secret that the country continues to struggle with both protecting itself and being prepared for life’s disastrous surprises (both natural and manmade). This continued lack was brought to the forefront of the nation’s general consciousness during the course of this week.
It all began last week with twin explosions that occurred too close for comfort in Mombasa’s city centre (at the Stadium View Bar and Restaurant) and another in Mtwapa (at a Christian prayer meeting). That was how April began. Shocked and shaken up we soldiered on…
Then came the April fool’s joke that was all too serious and none too funny; which one you ask, well the one where the 5th floor of Kimathi House on Kimathi Street in the nation’s Capital caught on fire due to an electrical fault. On this occasion the firemen where on the scene within minutes –which is not normally the case- but found themselves rather out of their depth in combatting the furious orange ball of flames that continued to consume everything in its wake while the firemen were reduced to mere spectators, because their fire hoses only reached up to the third floor! Eventually the blaze was quelled but not before the KK Guards and G4S security firms came on to the scene with ladders in tow and the arrival of a few more fire trucks with working cranes attached (who at first seemed to water the trees more than anything). A blaze that should have been put out within an hour of sparking instead took roughly 2 hours to quell. Our firemen and women came out of the fire looking like a guard dog with no teeth, through no fault of their own. Surely we cannot expect them to do their jobs to the best of their abilities without the sufficient tools to perform! We were ill prepared and this was not the first time we have been caught woefully unprepared for what came our way.
As the week came to a close we were to be shocked once again when splashed across our TV screens were the disconcerting images of GSU Police men brutally beating a young man from Kirita in Trans Nzoya County. Conduct not only unbecoming of officers but seemingly common place – this is not the first time officers have been caught on camera excreting needless force on a member of the public. (2007 Post Election Violence) The video, of the seemingly very young man being whipped and kicked around by the GSU officers, to which Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere replied that the incident happened in 2009 and that he will personally peruse developments into the investigation… The whole incident and indeed the past week or so made me and no doubt many of my fellow Kenyans think and to a large extent worry about whether or not we are truly safe.
To my common man understanding of the way things ought to be, the police are meant to make citizens feel safe, secure and protected beyond a shadow of a doubt but with the actions of those GSU in Trans Nzoya I find myself being fearful of and unprotected by those who I should trust with my life.
In case you haven't seen the video I speak of above, here it is