By Nyainda M
Sometime in 2011, George Kinuthia Saitoti, the then Internal Security Minister, promised the nation before the floor of the house, that he would table a report authored by the American Embassy about the country’s drug barons and their intricate web.
This had been preceded by the elevation of the Artur brothers to the position of the Deputy Commissioners of Police, ostensibly to salvage their drugs stashed in a safe house at GSU Training School.
Subsequently, Erastus Kirui Chemorei, the GSU Training School Commandant, was shot over 27 times, for possessing the keys to that store and being the primary witness.
Immediately after Saitoti sent tremors throughout the country, there was a vicious extermination campaign of petty drug peddlers who doubled up as the barons’ poverty stricken ground henchmen, on the account of being the snitches.
And the poor hitmen hired to do the dirty work, were subsequently felled by bullets too.
This is the true reflection of the Kenyan bureaucratic state. Since the colonial times, it has been structured and reinforced in a manner that perpetuates poverty, and then goes ahead to criminalize it.
And if you’ve never known, the most industrious class of Kenyans is the poor. It is only that the system that has conspired against them and that is why I take offense with people who profile the poor collectively as lazy.
No one wishes poverty upon themselves. It is seldom self-induced. The question of poverty is a very complex and multidimensional matter, canvassed by several scholars. But I will remain simple, straight and precise here.
In the back alley estates of Kayole, Dandora, Kariobangi and the sprawling slums of Kibera, extrajudicial killing is rampant under the pretense of a failed criminal justice system.
Yet, these young people have opted to join organized crimes because there is a pot-bellied politician who squandered money that would have otherwise built them a vocational training center and offered them soft loans for SMEs.
The exclusive leafy suburbs of Nairobi are occupied by warlords, highly placed criminals and narcotic dealers, but rarely will a bullet be lodged in their heads, unless a deal goes sour. The best that can happen is being presented to court, beat the system and walk out on bail.
On the other hand, a poor man is apprehended today for a criminal act, presented to court, and they may end up being jailed in a record one week. If they don’t and they secure cash bail, they may die from the barrel of a gun on account of notoriety.
The system is unforgiving to the poor. It’ll give you no chance to explain yourself.
And the woman captured in this photo did not wake up and found herself selling busaa. She’s a victim of circumstances who just wants to be that mother who provides for her family.
Perhaps the boy standing behind with his eyes transfixed on this wild act is her son.
And this administrator is only subservient to a joint criminal enterprise he is serving under. But because he is in a uniform, he thinks that he is cushioned from the excesses of this regime to the extent of mistreating the poor.
This is someone’s mother, a daughter to some parents, and a wife to some husband who is simply eking out a living from the sale of busaa, which, as a matter of fact, has educated so many people out here. And this person here may just be one of them.
But the illegality of selling busaa does not warrant this level of inhuman mistreatment. This is sadism in its rawest form.