YOU GO TO JAIL

Yesterday after a long day of visiting children’s homes, I was heading back to my accommodation for the night. As we approached town, our car was abruptly stopped by a police officer who came out of the darkness. Seeing me in the car he accused me of making a traffic violation and demanded that I get out of the car. I was the passenger in the car, not the driver.

I was accused of being a criminal and would have to suffer the consequences. I would be taken to the jail and held for three days after which time I would go before a judge. I apologized for any infraction I may have committed. I was then told that I was not above the law and must pay for my act. He further explained that we could settle the matter right then and there with a rather large payment of about $500. I responded that I would make any such payment and if I had broken the law I will address it with the judge. With that statement I held out my hands to be handcuffed.

At that point a second officer came out from the darkness rifle in hand. He started screaming that I was an outlaw and will be prosecuted. He then started ranting in Swahili so I have no idea what he was saying. Returning to english he demanded payment right then and there. I refused and at that point I was forced back into the car and they both got in as well and we headed for the jail. They barked some demands to the driver in Swahili and we were off. After driving a short while we were going into a very dark and isolated area. The one officer told the driver to stop the car and I was told to get out. The driver was instructed to stay in the car. They walked me into the darkness and started threatening me with their guns demanding payment. I refused. The one then asked me for my passport. I refused to provide it. I was told that everyone must produce their passport when required by the police. I explained that my passport was to protect me and I would not produce it in this situation. The other officer pulled out his papers to show that even they had their papers with them. I pointed out that they had rifles to protect their papers and I had no gun to protect mine. They then proceeded to scream in Swahili so I have no idea what they were saying but it was very intense.

Once they calmed down I explained what I was doing and asked if they had any children. They both confessed that they did. “I am here to help your children” I then explained and I am not pleased with being accosted in this manner when I am only trying to help. I noted that any money I had, was only going to be given to children in need. I could see that I was wearing them down. I went on to express appreciation for their efforts in keeping the peace and hoped that some day I might be able to assist one of their children.

I reached into my pocket and pulled out 100 shillings worth about 85 cents. I offered that as a token of my appreciation for their work. Unfortunately, that enraged them. They asked me if I thought they were crazy waving their guns in my face. I confirmed that I did not think they were but neither was I and this is all I would give. They brought me back to the car forced me in and barked again to the driver. He drove a short distance and stopped again. They told me again to get out, I did and they drove off leaving me in the dark. I then walked back to town and retired for the night. The next day was better.

Paul Christensen

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