By Ogova Ondego
Published December 11, 2016
A policeman in Kenya has left many observers wondering whether uniformed members of the service (yes, the 2010 constitution changed it from a â€˜forceâ€™ to a â€˜serviceâ€™!) should have an opinion on socio-political issues, let alone express it publicly.
Sammy Ondimu Ngare, an Administration Police officer known as the â€˜Singing Copâ€™ for his campaign to endear the police to the public that views it with mistrust and suspicion if not outright contempt, has written a social commentary highlighting the difficult life of a police officer charged with the responsibility of guarding a Member of Parliament (Mheshimiwa, The Honourable).
The commentary that is written in Sheng and Kiswahili, is critical of the â€˜Mheshimiwaâ€™ who, Ngare says, not only refuses to give the bodyguard an â€˜offâ€™ to be with his family but publicly accuses the entire police service of â€˜corruptionâ€™ while the guard, a police officer, stands behind him. Not uttering a word.
In a style not unlike that of Ugandan Henry Barlowâ€™s in â€˜Building the Nationâ€™ in Poems from East Africa anthology that says nation-building is done in different ways, Ngare says the politicianâ€™s comments appear insensitive as he does not take into consideration the sacrifice the police make in keeping the public safe.
Unlike Government Permanent Secretary (PS) Barlow who takes on the role of the driver who drives the PS to an important meeting, AP officer Ngare speaks on behalf of Police Bodyguards, himself.
Sammy Ondimu Ngareâ€™s commentary shows that police officers are no longer content with just being seen; they want to be heard, too. And what better way to do this than compose, write, record and perform socially-conscious music that can then be used as conversation starts aimed at bringing about socially desirable change?
Ngareâ€™s efforts have not failed to attract the attention of Kenyaâ€™s Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA), an agency â€œformed to provide for civilian oversight over the work of the policeâ€ in the East African country. IPOA has awarded him the Best Police Officer price for his song, Police ni Binadamu (Police officers, too, are human).
The latest single from Ngareâ€™s stable is Habella (Sponsor Manenos), a song calling for commitment in marriage.
Social media and the arts are providing avenues for policemen like Ngare to get both seen and heard on issues related to humanity.
So, can anything good come from the Police?
Please check out the answer from YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the ‘Kilio Changu Askari Kwa Mheshimiwa ‘ commentary (below) by Kenyaâ€™s ‘Singing Cop’, Sammy Ondimu Ngare:
Kilio Changu Askari Kwa Mheshimiwa
Ukisimama kwa podium unaongea mbaya kutuhusu..
“Ooh nyinyi ni wajinga, kazi yenu ni kupokea hongo tu, mnatumika vibaya, kazi imewashinda, tunawalipa mishahara bure na hamfanyi kazi…”
Imagine unapoongea haya yote niko nyuma yako kama mlinzi (bodyguard). Hebu fikiria naingia job mapema na kutoka late usiku wa manane.watoto wangu hawanijui maana natoka asubuhi na nikirudi washalala. Weekends hautaki niwe na familia yangu wataka nikupeleke kwenye starehe ujienjoy na wenzako. Mkutanapo kwenye starehe zenu sisi twabaki kwa magari tukinyosha viti tukilala tukisubiri simu zenu. Wala lunch ya 7k, pesa yatosha kulipia mtoi wangu shule. Dinner pekee yalipia rent familia yangu. Uingiapo kwako outside kuna colleague yuapigwa na baridi kukupa security. Hata haumjui kwa jina. Usiku usikiapo risasi zikilia wampigia simu na kutaka kujua ni nini mbaya. Nikichelewa kufika kazini asubuhi wapigia wadosi wangu na kuwaambia uwongo wote vile mimi ni mbaya.
Juzi nimewaona waheshimiwa kwa vyombo vya habari mkisema mtahamisha Askari wote toka kwa county, nashangaa wale mnataka wazuri watatoka wapi. Sijawahi kuona hata siku moja polisi twasifiwa kwa kazi njema tulofanya na sio eti hatufanyi. Hebu jiulize mhesh, uko na askari anakulinda usiku na mchana ushawahi take your time kujua yuaishi vipi? Anakula nini? Watoto wake wanasomea wapi?
Bungeni hautetei maslahi yangu, wajua mshahara wangu hata sio nusu ya entertainment allowance yako. Je, mheshimiwa wajua kuwa mimi ni mwanadamu kama wewe? Wewe ukiumia hata kama ni headache wabebwa na ndege hadi ngambo kwa matibabu zaidi, mimi hata hiyo ndege siijui vile inakaa ndani, sijui kama iko na steering, brake, clutch ama gears…huwa naiona tu kwa TV, gazeti na maybe nikikupeleka airport naona ikitake off.
#Askari_ni_Binadamu. Kama sio wewe mheshimiwa, Nani basi atatusaidia? Natumahi kilio changu utakisikia na utashugulikia maslahi yangu..
Kumbuka ukinitusi mimi ni mjinga, yule ako nyuma yako kama bodyguard sio eti ni tofauti na sisi.
Mola akulinde nami anilinde pia, tunapoendelea kuhudumia wakenya.
Mola aibariki Kenya yetu.