By Nahashon Kamau, Kasarani Social Justice Centre
The sun was hotter than usual in our pockets. I went to the Center where comrades were gathering preparing for the Njaa Revolution crusade hosted by Kasarani Social Justice Center.
I had carried a few cartons to be used as writing materials. The other comrades had arrived earlier with the materials. Comrades were very joyful, another day to fight against the oppressive system created and controlled by countable individuals.
I stood at the end of the room silently observing everyone writing revolutionary messages on their cartons. They didn’t even mind what they were writing on so long as the message was brief and concise.
Comrades decided that they were behind schedule so they should get going. The peaceful demonstration was to pass through Sunton then to proceed to Mwiki along Kasarani Mwiki road.
Due to time constraints, comrades decided to proceed with Kamuti-ini road. Comrade Ojango had the mini mega phone chanting revolutionary messages with the comrades.
“Tuko njaa” he said and we chorused “tuko njaa.” Wakenya mko njaa?” he asked the community members who had started coming out of their houses and others from their daily routine .The members of the community took photographs and videos using their “Mukias”. They were intrigued by the comrades audacity to come out to the streets chanting revolutionary songs.
“Nchi gani hii, wanataka tukufe njaa?”.
The boxes read “Wakenya mko njaa?” At this time we were at Garage stage proceeding to Maji Mazuri. On reaching Maji Mazuri, community members had started joining us slowly and gathering around. We halted and started engaging them.
I glimpsed at one of the placard it read “we can’t eat food for thought.” Ojango and Maryann engaged the people with the people’s budget briefly then we were on our way to Mwiki. Comrades were careful not to disrupt traffic and avoid any confrontations. I noticed we were now approaching the long awaited destination ACK road Mwiki. All along the walk we engaged the community members.
Close to the first streets a substantial mass of kiosk vendors, shop keepers and hawkers were taking photos or videos. I noticed a few local opinion leaders taking pictures or videos but I was quickly drawn back to the crusade.
At that moment, comrades were chanting our slogans and reading the people’s budget which was passed around for them to express their opinions. The masses were deeply pleased and accepted the people’s budget.
Most of them thought it was the real budget that was read by the state officers but we made it clear that it was our own proposed mwanainchi budget.
The police were arriving one by one from Mwiki Police Station. At first they tried to arrest Comrade Ojango but we pulled him away from the officer. I was surprised how we managed to hold onto Ojango because the officer was built heavily. The police officer retreated back to their Mahindra police pickup.
Comrades were careful incase of any confrontations. We continued with our procession. In the middle of the road we heard police sirens. The police had regrouped and were many. We tried to keep people together telling each other “musitoroke,” “when we loose our fear they loose their power.” Comrades now were almost reaching the Budalangi sub-chief’s office.
When the police officers reached closer to the comrades, they dispersed strategically eluding arrest. Upon reaching the bodaboda stage, I saw a plain-clothed officer grabbing Comrade Minoo by the collar and hitting her on the chest. Instinctively, I started walking towards them.
Immediately I heard people shouting “shika huyo,” and to my surprise they were referring to me. The OCS said kuja tuongee. Events unfolded very quickly; one minute I was being hauled up by the waist. I tried telling and pleading with them that I was not resisting arrest. My plea fell on deaf ears. I overpowered the two officers.
I remember the OCS together with his officers, including a traffic officer, were standing very near and assisting. They made the whole situation look like I was resisting arrest. I was not read my rights before being arrested. I felt like I was kidnapped by utumishi kwa wote. I was still pleading with them to let me board their vehicle peacefully but the only language they understood was brute force.
I was violently shoved inside the back of the pickup falling on my back. Little did I know that a plain clothed officer was waiting for me to land on my back with his fists ready for a brutal beating.
He pressed me with his knee on my chest hitting me violently like I was a punching bag. I felt so powerless; it was like he was looking for a reason to kill us. He wanted to provoke me so that he could find a concrete reason to kill us. Incase I had raised a fist against him you could probably be raising funds for my hospital bill or funeral.
He released all his police frustrations on my head. I had to guard my face after receiving several blows on my lips and chin. After that he tried to strangle me. All this time Comrade Minoo was screaming at him to stop pounding me. The other officers had already boarded the pickup. All this time he had managed to handcuff my left arm and he tightened the cuff. The other officers helped him to cuff my right hand. I stood bent and sat on the right side of the bench close to Comrade Minoo.
He turned his attention on Minoo, pounded her with his fists, hitting her severally on her right eye which swelled immediately. I tried to stop him but he hit me again, this time on the left side of my forehead severally, and on the right four times which I tried to dodge and block. The vehicle had reached Red Soil road where it stopped. Comrade Clinton was forced to board. They shoved him to the left corner of the vehicle. The violent officer hit him below the right eye where he sustained a cut and started bleeding. I tried to plead to him to stop hitting him because he had undergone an eye surgery after being hit by a nail early last year. The image is deeply embedded in my mind.
Anytime I close my eyes the first image is him staring at me. Along Red Soil road the officer was staring me dead in the eyes. He had opened his eyes wide open staring at me. I stared back at him. I could tell from his eyes that he was disappointed because he didn’t kill my spirit. I didn’t fear him. We stared at each other now at Mwiki stage.
He started accusing us that “hiyo bangi mnavuta mnatuletea vurugu uku Mwiki leo mtakipata.” He asked me “hizo sheria ulikua unasema sasa ziko wapi” I answered him “umesema ninyamaze.” On reaching Mwiki Police Station, the pickup reversed up to the station door. The officers ordered us out of the police vehicle and into the OB room where the violent officer frisked me vigorously then the officers at the OB took over.
I didn’t see the violent officer again after he removed the handcuffs. We were booked and our phone, money and wallets labeled together with our bags were confiscated. Comrade Minoo stopped them from reading her notebook telling them it was infringing on her privacy. When I switched off my phone it was around mid noon. They ordered us to our respective cells after telling us to remove one shoe and belts.
Inside the cell we met other victims of this slave system. Their material conditions had forced them to be there. We engaged with them. The stench coming out of the dilapidated nothing close to a toilet, burned the nostrils and eyes. The situation was so overwhelming in regards to what we were fighting for.
Article 43 is the most basic right a human being can enjoy. Momentarily we heard commotion. From far I could identify Comrade Brayan and Kinuthia’s voices. From my side it felt so strong that the spirit of comradely love still perseveres.
We heard them say “tufungulie ata sisi tuingie huku nje nikubaya.” The cell was opened, Comrades entered ,checked on our well being, dinner was served, we ate, and started singing “nchi gani hii inataka tukufe njaa?“
Officers came and released the comrades. They were ordered to go home or risk being arrested. Comrades kept coming in solidarity. They hastily took our finger prints while interrogating each of us. Do you work for Muhuri? Were you being used by politicians? Who is funding you ? They even tried/pretended to side with us. The OCS and Deputy OCS with other officers visited the male cell asking who was assaulted by police officers, and we told him all of us.
He referred a former inmate to describe the situation at Industrial Area Remand Prison. He asked if I was ever beaten for committing a mistake. I said for leaking sugar. He insisted if you go to Inda you will receive worse beating and monolization than this.
All this time, what they really wanted to know is who were the leaders of #Mwiki4. At around 8 or 9 pm we heard bullet sounds, shouting, running and finally nothing. We were quickly transported to Kasarani Police Station, to await court proceedings. We were booked with resisting arrest and having an illegal gathering.
Inside the cells you could feel and see the victimization of the so called leaders of tomorrow. Every single cell mate had his own story, but the material conditions due to Covid-19 and the increase in the prices of basic commodities was a common foundation.
The state should stop investing in the prison industrial complex and invest more in cottage industries. We made friends and had a political education class. Comrades were always there all the time, giving more solidarity. The cells were spacious. We ate poorly cooked ugali and cabbage which is a delicacy in prison. We dozed off.
At around 2-3 am, we heard loud commotion and the door was forcefully opened waking all of us. I woke up hastily and stood at the door, after opening the door an officer said “nimewaletea nyama.” One of the cell mate who had stayed there for sometime had already reached the door, grabbed the noisy drank and pushed him straight into the toilet which was flooded with foul alcohol stinking sewage. The new cellmate was chased from the other cells because he kept shouting “ethiopians.” The Nigerian we were sharing the cell with kept reminding us the rules of the house: “close the door friend.” I went back to my part of the floor. The new cell mate reached our cell and shouted “ethiopian.”
Comrade Clinton told him to close the door. He was recognized by the new cellmate. He called out “Didi” then I heard “Jose,” finally I heard “chair.” We were all there coincidentally at that bizarre moment and place.
We were overwhelmed and kept talking about our circumstances. We were cut short by our fellow cellmate: “tell your friend to take it easy. “There was major victimization of the boy child. The male cells were several and large compared to one small female cell. How many of our comrades shall they kill until we realize it is time to wake up. No more matyrs!