Parents should guard their children from events that can tarnish their view of life, especially the wrath of police officers
For the first time ever, I planned a holiday for my family away from the usual travels upcountry. The plan was hatched during one of our chama meetings. We were engaged in our usual discussions when we noticed that the man of the house was absent. Whenever we visit this family, the man is always the first to welcome us before he carries on with his errands. On enquiring about his whereabouts, the host informed us that he had travelled with his buddies, just to unwind and have fun. A perfect plan, indeed and that’s how we began planning for our end of year holiday.
At a glimpse, this was the plan. Time – Early November. Destination – North Coast. Number of days – five. Accommodation – A guest house. Places to visit – three per day. Transport – Jambo Jet. Daily Transport – Car hire.
This turned out to be an expensive affair, but everything is hard before it is easy. Everything played out as planned, until the fifth day, when two-thirds of the team was flying back home.
One of my friends loves keeping time, and this is especially important when talking about flights. A 20-minute delay can be disastrous and when a large group is involved, rescheduling a flight can be damn expensive. How worse when the cost is to be incurred by women who have had to sacrifice all the year’s chama savings to take children on holiday.
Rogue police officer
We boarded our car and headed to the airport. My two children and I were staying longer at the Coast to visit relatives. As we got into the airport, we went through the usual police check, and drove straight on. To avoid missing the flight departure point, we stopped twice to ask for directions. As is the Kenyan culture, that is considered wise and people are always more than willing to assist. This gets even better when you are dealing with people at the Coast.
As we headed to our parking slot, I saw a police officer follow us. He came straight to the driver’s side and began asking endless questions. “You were over-speeding, I stopped you and you defied my orders. Have you ever been here? Do you know airport traffic rules.” That is a tactic majority of Kenya’s police officers use to instill fear, force the culprit to own up to a mistake and apologize. The trick is that if you plead guilty, then you have committed the crime.
I was the core-driver and I could not keep mum on false accusations. My friends would not keep quiet either. At the top of our voices, and with lots of affirmation, we stood our ground. We were not over-speeding because we still had two hours to our flight time. We were also not sure about the departure point, that is why we had to be slow to confirm from well wishers. The police officer could not hear any of our arguments. “I will deal with the driver.”
He took the driver’s license, asked the driver to take the car to the police station and see him after the guests had left. I was not part of the team that was leaving, and I trusted my little knowledge of the law to save our driver. I was also concerned about the welfare of my children, who were present to see off their friends. We needed to rest as we started our day very early and temperatures were at their worst, 32 degrees against a historical average of 30 degrees.
Our friends checked in to the airport, and after exchanging pleasantries, we bade them goodbye. We went straight to have a chat with the police officer.
The law enforcer turned a deaf ear on all our defenses, and asked us to follow him to the police station. I walked faster than him, but since I did not know the right entrance to the station, he got there ahead of me. I saw him whisper to his colleague, a female police officer, after which he immediately walked out. I sat down outside the police station.
I informed my kids that we had been arrested, but was quick to explain that we had not done anything wrong. My young daughter began asking endless questions which I took time to answer. In the process, he saw three handcuffed men inside a nearby cell. “Are we going to end up in that cell?” That question tore my heart. “No. They will forgive us.” The trauma in my daughter’s face was too much to bear. I did not care about this cop and what he thought about our speed and contempt. My children and I needed to be free. The female cop had asked if she could help but I was reluctant to answer. I now realized that it is only in moments of agony that accurate feedback can be given to any office. This rule also works best in customer service. I proceeded to the counter to relay my disappointment about wrong accusations and the disgraced police force.
Free at last
On realisation that little help was forthcoming, I retreated back to my sit.
Minutes later, the police officer and driver walked in and proceeded to the office. An argument ensued but the driver was not the kind of person to accept defeat lying down. He argued his way to freedom. Ten minutes later, he walked out together with the police officer who looked beaten and shy.
That evening, as we were having a chat with my brother, my daughter picked a pencil and a paper and started drawing. In between she would enter moments of deep thought. When he handed over the drawing to me, I shed tears. While we had moved on after a brush with the law, my daughter’s thoughts remained with the three handcuffed men in the cell at the airport police station. I took a few minutes to teach her the dynamics in life, morality, crime, and that sometimes life is unfair. But one lesson was clear – children are moulded by their encounters in life. As such, parents should guard their children from events that can tarnish their view of life.