Colour of police uniform a minor detail but it's safe to face trivialities

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi when he admired the new police uniform with former Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet. [File, Standard]

In a matter of weeks, five years of electioneering will come to an end, and another phase of campaigning will start. This is the cycle that Kenyans are used to, for, our politicians do not have much to do apart from insulting the voters’ intelligence and squandering our taxes.

As the campaigning intensifies, promises are made as those which had been made earlier are forgotten. Decisions that had been made earlier are trashed, and there is overall blame game even when those decisions were once vehemently defended. During this period, politicians get angry, and promise to bring in changes, which in the larger scheme of things, will not improve service delivery or the lives of Kenyans.

For close to a month now, a certain politician has been sounding so annoyed over the colour of the police uniform. In fact, if the number of times he has spoken about it in political rallies is anything to go by, he is definitely losing sleep over it.

He wants the “new” cobalt blue police uniform to go. He says the colour belongs to a group of women in a certain church, and that they have to get it back — even though the old ladies are not complaining.

Anyway, that is what happens when you have no agenda for the women of Kenya, and you resort to insulting their intelligence by making them think that all they need is just a colour.

It is not easy to tell if he rants against the uniform because he hates the person under whose tenure it was introduced or does not like how police officers look in it considering that he also lacks sartorial elegance.

Of course everyone knows that the colour of the uniform is the least of the problems in the police force, or the smallest of the problems officers themselves go through.

It may be pointless to remind Kenyans that police officers terms’ of service, their working and living conditions, their pay, mental health and conduct are bigger problems than the colour of their uniform.

But since this gentleman feels the only way to bring change is through colour, he might as well extend his colour narrative to other areas.

He could start by changing the uniform, so to write, of people working in hospitals. They tend to wear white, and that happens to be the colour of Kenya’s staple grain, maize. He should take it back to remind Kenyans of what maize or its product, ugali used to look like because it is becoming unaffordable and many will soon forget how it tastes too.

The white also belongs to milk, another basic commodity that Kenyans are increasingly hearing about and not seeing because they cannot afford it.

Of course it would have been wiser to just make sure that Kenyans can afford that ugali and milk and other commodities but nope, flying and driving to political rallies to complain about the rising cost of fuel and other goods is more fashionable, and trendy — and Kenyans are gullible.

Also, it is almost a crime to use the word wiser and Kenyan politicians in the same sentence.

There is also the red of the national carrier which experiences more turbulence than all airlines in the world combined. Changing the colour of the employees’ uniform might signify that the airline will no longer be in the red, and will not need bailing out every year after it makes losses but has to stay afloat.

While on airlines, the yellow of the Kenya Airports Authority staff also has to go. The other day, another politician complained that the airports authority keeps closing the airspace and thus denying Kenya revenue from visitors who fly in or Kenyans who go to different places for business.

Probably it is the yellow that keeps blinding them, and they cannot see the planes flying away from the Kenyan airspace, and taking with them the monies that could have boosted the economy.

But airports authority staff are more informed than the politician who does not know that this particular entity deals with matters on the ground only and the airspace belongs to their other independent sibling, Kenya Civil Aviation Authority.

But that is the nature of a Kenyan politician: Shout yourself hoarse now, and think later. And even when the thinking starts, it has to be about themselves, and not the people who elected them. That is why this politician is losing sleep over the colour of the police uniform than issue of police officers’ conduct that Kenyans keep complaining about.

It is difficult to fathom how a person who aspires for top leadership looks at the police service and sees that the biggest problem with it is the colour of their uniform.

Ideally, there are so many uniforms that need to be changed and a whole ministry may be needed just to deal with such.

Such a ministry will be beneficial to politicians since it will be another avenue for milking the taxpayers. Even the anger about police uniforms could be because someone needs to be given a tender to supply new ones.