As Kenya Commumarated over 30 years since the first Saba Celebration was held, Kenyans went into the streets to celebrate the event yesterday.
Activists who were accompanied by a group of youths to the Nairobi streets to mark the Saba Saba event faced it rough as police used teargas to disperse them as others were arrested.
“I had spent a beautiful day with young, active citizens who had braved teargas, arrests and police batons to march against police brutality in the slums and criminalization of poverty, in commemoration of Saba Saba day,” Boniface Mwangi Said.
Police teargassed and arrested leaders of social justice centres who had organized the peaceful protest. The young ones took over and the peaceful protest continued, but was disrupted again by the police and 25 people arrested in Nairobi CBD alone. In total, 57 people were arrested and held in different police stations.
Activist Boniface Mwangi went to the Central Police Station, with friends, to follow up on those who had been arrested and found a lot of lawyers following up and so decided to drink some coffee as they waited.
Boniface Mwangi narrated that as he was having coffee at the police canteen when a police officer came up to me and said l should follow him, only to discover that he was under arrest once he got to the DCIO’s office.
“I was processed, recorded a statement and booked. Every officer who handled me, and had been involved in arresting the peaceful protestors, was frustrated. They had followed orders to teargas, beat and arrest protestors, something they had a problem with. The protestors were peacefully protesting against police brutality and here they were being ordered to brutalize them, thus confirming why the protest was important,” Mwangi remarked.
He revealed that he was locked up in police cells for four hours and yesterday’s experience was different from others he experienced in the past as he was looked at the police and felt sorry for Kenyans. Kenya Police Force was formed in 1887 to protect the wealthy British settlers. The people the British used to arrest or kill, were Africans.
The police cell design today is from back in those days. It’s a corridor, with separate rooms for males and females and very old, dirty, broken toilets at the very end. The police take away one shoe from every inmate, and to use the toilet you have to borrow a shoe from a fellow inmate or step on the wet floor.
Every cell is locked from outside and because one officer can’t spend every other hour escorting you to the very dirty, stinking toilets, there is a bucket in every cell for you to pee inside. With no seats, you sit on the cold floor and there’s a space barricaded with metal bars, at the very top of the room, to allow in some air.
“While l was in the cells, food was served in small bowls, that the server was sliding into every cell. You’re basically fed like dogs, housed worse than dogs, and it’s very dehumanizing,” Boniface Mwangi regretted.