Following recent rampant human rights violation, including murder, accusations that have further tainted the already bad image of Nairobi City County askaris. City fathers have tried to redeem the forces’ reputation in vain.
This is after a bunch of city inspectorate officers ganged up and savagely clobbered an image cum etiquette and PR consultant hired to teach them proper customer service.
“It all began when I suggested that their job, whose main qualification seems to be muscle not brains, should be professionalised. Just when I was explaining how archaic and colonial the use of force and violence is in today’s world while dealing with the public, they pounced on me with kicks, blows and clubs, Boko Haram style. They then chased me out of the training room like I was a hawker,” revealed the consultant who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The consultant who sustained grave injuries further expressed regret for ignoring telltale signs of what was to befall him. He disclosed he should have suspected it was going to turn out that way when he was frisked by the askaris at the beginning of the training session.
He was also asked to take out his phones or any other gadget with a video-recording capability. When confronted with the report, the county government was quick to deny the incident. County officials said there was no way of telling whether those who attacked the consultants were actually employees of the city inspectorate department or just goons.
On learning of the denial, the consultant declared he had adequate proof that they were city askaris. “Of course they were... before they attacked me they asked for a bribe in order to leave me alone... What more proof do you need?” posed the consultant.
Consequently information obtained from the county government indicates that the county officials have resigned themselves to the fact that it is impossible for the askaris to be retrained by civilians. This means the only ones capable of helping them rebrand are individuals or institutions with even worse reputations.
“We may just have to turn to the Artur brothers to train our askaris,” a county government official is quoted as saying. “We are also trying to get in touch with people who had served in the special branch during the single party days - especially those whose duties included getting confessions through torture. We will also accept applications from people who have served as hangmen,” he added.
Other challenges include conflicting interests between what the county government wants and what the askaris are demanding.
While the county government wants each askari to have a unique identifying number visible to members of the public, the askaris have vowed to only don numbers on their lapels, only if those numbers are paybill numbers which 'facilitation' can be sent to.
As for the uniforms, the askaris want the new outfits to be red so that the blood stains of the victims they brutalise don’t show. Perhaps as a sign of how desperate things are, reports have surfaced that the county is in talks with the police service commission to conduct recruitment exercise for new askaris on their behalf.
This now means you will have to bribe to become a city council askari. Previously, all you needed were violence instincts and maybe a scary face.