Inside the mind of a police officer serving his country in difficult circumstances

By Habiba Wakio

Moses stared at his reflection on his way out. He looked good in his uniform. This had been his lifelong dream-to serve his country by maintaining law and order. He was proud of how far he had come. He loved performing his duty, until now. His brush with the protesters the previous day was nagging him. He had thrown a canister of teargas towards them without any care in the world and hit some rioters, sending them to the hospital.

At one point, a canister had landed inside the compound of a nearby school. The poor kids! This had made him picture his son, sprawled on the floor, chocking to death, with no one coming to his rescue. Did he do the right thing? Did those people deserve what he did to them? He was beginning to question his integrity. He had two options: obey the order from his superior or resign to get a peace of mind. But could he really feel at ease if he sat back and watched his fellow countrymen suffer like crops invaded by locusts?

“Daddy, I want to be like you when I grow up,” his seven-year-old son, Gift, had enthusiastically told him that when he got home the previous day.

He swallowed hard. He did not feel like he deserved his son’s admiration. Gift’s view of him would change once he knew what his father had gotten himself into. Moses felt like a villain. He had tossed and turned in bed, waiting for morning to come so that he could make amends.

“Please do what you think is right,” his wife had told him.

I must do something, he decided as he kissed Gift’s forehead.

His wife smiled at him as he headed out, but he could see the worry behind her smile. Today, she had held on to him longer than before as they embraced. Was this how the relatives of the protesters felt? He wondered as he stepped out of his house. He turned around to take one last look before boarding the vehicle awaiting him.

When he got to his destination, he took a deep breath as he observed the group of people holding up banners with statements such as, “Punguza Bei ya Vitu!”, “Haki Yetu!”, “We want Change!” They were chanting their grievances. Some of his colleagues were about to throw teargas canisters while others cocked their guns when he stopped them.

“No more fighting,” he told them. “We are one, and we want the same thing-low cost of living.”

“But we’ve been instructed to-”

“It’s up to us to choose how we live our lives. Besides, these people are not causing any trouble, so there is no need to resort to violence. Our job is to maintain law and order, not cause chaos.”

“I guess you’re right,” said Blessing. “We should not violate their freedom of expression.”

“I second that,” chimed in Juma. “We can either watch them as we perform our duty or join them.”

“Or do both,” Rahab said, with a small smile.

The others smiled back. Moses’ heart swelled with pride. The police service that we desire!

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