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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Is Maj Gen Hussein Ali Telling The Truth?

Over 500 bodies dumped in mortuaries country-wide: who killed these youngsters?

Before we examine this disturbing development where there is a war of words between the police and the Chairman of the Kenya Human Rights Commission (over the issue of 500 dead bodies) , let me tell you a little background story I know you will love.

My knowledge of the police and the way they operate is rather deep although I have never been a police officer myself (I almost became one though, but that is a story for another day). You see I grew up living with a very senior police officer who happened to be the man who sired me.

In primary school I distinctly remember my Dad, suddenly, and out of the blue starting to carry a large automatic firearm around with him everywhere he went. I was puzzled and did not know why until many years later.

You see the old man was trained by the colonial government and for some reason certain basic principals stuck with him that were to put him on a collision course with the new direction the police force took shortly after independence. He probably only survived because he was quite senior and had a very powerful friend in the Kenya Army who was equally principled and had to step in once or twice to “cool down” things for him.

In this particular case my dad as a matter of principle refused to look the other way when coffee belonging to Mama Ngina Kenyatta came in and those escorting it, cockily demanded a police escort to Mombasa for it (it was during the coffee boom). I hope you’ve seen the very funny joke here—police escorting criminally smuggled goods.

The old man flatly refused and played it by the book, in fact he impounded the smuggled goods. Naturally he received threats and this was not a joke because he was dealing with people closely affiliated to the then dreaded Jomo Kenyatta kitchen cabinet. I have told you many times about the kind of things those “nice” guys used to do to other Kenyans, so I will not repeat myself.

Although the coffee still got to Mombasa (his boss over-ruled him) things got so bad that for weeks on end the cop who refused to go crooked never slept at home but spent the night in different hotels under an assumed name. He had been told that a contract was out for him to be killed. That crisis passed but they were many others that followed until finally during the Moi era, they forced him out of the police and into early retirement.

Ironically a few months later he read in the newspapers that a police officer whom he had wanted to prosecute for stealing money belonging to the police canteen in a certain province where they served together once, had been appointed police commissioner. Yep, that’s what the police force degenerated into when politics happened to it.

And then we ask ourselves today why the police seem to be losing the war against criminals. Strange people, we Kenyans are!

Let me admit that when I was growing up I believed that my dad was making a mistake being so stringent and principled. Especially when he worked hard to instill the same principles in us, his children. For years we joked how our house was an extension of the police station.

I watched with envy as other policeman’s kids showed off their expensive toys (delivered by some “Asian friend of their dad”) and later as they drove around in expensive cars given to them as gifts by “family friends”. I continued to be dropped in school by a ramshackle jalopy of a car that the other kids made fan of because it looked like it would give way at any moment. Mercifully on rare occasions when the jalopy gave in, I was dropped by a police car and they didn’t make fun then.

That old man is one of the reasons why I am here with all you good folks doing the thankless task of writing this blog, instead of chasing Ken-Ren-like contracts with government departments and so called family contacts and friends—like intelligent sane Kenyans do. Or receiving some smuggled sugar from speed boats somewhere in Mombasa. It is the reason why unlike many Kenyans my hero is John Githongo and not Kamlesh Pattni or some other stinking rich tycoon that many Kenyans hero worship.

Now onto this latest saga involving the police.

Let me start by asking you some simple questions that you need to ask yourself?

If John Githongo issued a statement and then Stanley Livondo contradicted what he said, whom would you believe?

If Ndingi Mwana Nzeki issued a statement and Cardinal designate John Njue issued another one contradicting him, whom would you believe?

Finally if the chairman of the Kenya Human Rights Commission issued a carefully worded statement and then the Police commissioner issued a statement contradicting what he had said, whom would you believe?

I think the simple answer to this war of words is right there.

I have a simple test I use with all public figures. I look them straight in the eye and observe carefully how they react. Many of them have this shifty look in their eyes that gives them away and the moment they fail my test, I will never believe anything they say in public. I am especially wary of press conferences called “to clear the air.” The truth is that most of the time they do the very opposite, they pollute the air with lies. The truth is that there are too many lies flying around in Kenya today. The normal thing is for public figures to rush to the press and deny things.

Peter Kenneth the assistant minister for finance and his senior ministry officials called a press conference yesterday to strongly deny that the Ken-Ren deal exists. But payments of that contract are clearly documented in black and white in the budget. Anybody who can read English will be able to see them. And besides when the civil society first raised this issue months ago (we published their statement here in Kumekucha), the government said nothing.

It is virtually impossible to come up with any evidence to link the police to the extra-judicial killings of hundreds of young, Kikuyu youths whose bodies were dumped in mortuaries all over the country (we reported here based on information from impeccable sources that some of those bodies were dumped at the Nairobi National Park to be eaten by wild animals).

The truth is that the police who undertook these killings based on instructions from the Minister in charge of Internal security (that were not that secret, but which Kenyans have now forgotten about) could not have been stupid enough to leave any calling cards or even a shred of evidence.

My heart goes out to the families who lost loved ones and know the truth about how innocent the Kenya police are in this matter. Be strong, one day the truth shall be known.

This post is dedicated to relatives of all those who lost their loved ones and who find it extremely painful to hear grown men who are supposed to protect them, tell lies on national television. It is also dedicated to all those straight policemen who refused to be corrupt. Those gallant sons of Kenya some of whom lost their lives because of their principles.

I salute you all.

I thank you all…

and I bless the day Kenyan mothers gave birth to you.


Anonymous said...

A couple of years back a friend of mine was shot by some young boys presumably on drugs. He survived the ordeal and the young boys were caught as they tried to do the same to someone else. As he was still recuperating in hospital, one of the inspectors in charge of his case visited him in hospital to confirm to him that the boys would never do that again to anyone else, that they had been "taken care of" and that the rest is for wild animals to finish.

Anonymous said...

The justice system does not is frustrating to c the thugz u catch let go by this system so the only way ni kamoja tu

bloggeratti said...

You might say good riddance because the bad guys get wiped out pronto, but perhaps this little narrative will change your mind.

Peter was a member of the popular rap group, Kenyana (a group of pumped-up rappers with a penchant for whipping of their t-shirts on stage and dropping a couple of pushups while performing).

Can't say I knew Peter well. We chatted. He was funny, quite an item with the ladies for his well toned physique, insane jokes and boyish smile.

Peter was gunned down by undercover cops in Nairobi's Eastleigh estate at the entrance of some obscure pub on 2nd street. His crime? They claimed he was a dangerous thug on the cops most wanted list.

The real story? Peter, unfortunately, shared the romantic interests of a certain cop in the neighbourhood. These are no ordinary coppers - they're mostly in plain clothes (trendy, too)and they're answerable much higher up the copper food chain. The cases of the unlucky youngsters they execute usually passed off as water under the bridge. No investigation. No explanation. No statements. Nothing.

Despite being an artiste and public figure, Peter's death passed by without a whimper from Govt. It was highlighted once or twice in "Pulse", the East African Standard's Friday magazine.

Next time you hear about extra-judicial executions, don't be elated. It could be an innocent jamaa. Like Peter.


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