Face-to-face with corruption
Her name is irrelevant because to name her would be to confine her to the single person that she is and the tribe that she belongs to.
Yet, this young woman is real. I met her. I shook her hand, and I heard her voice as she narrated her story – this story. It is a familiar tale, and that is what makes it so tragic.
Born 27 years ago, this woman had a fairly average childhood. First born in a family of five, her parents raised her to be a strong and independent woman. She didn’t perform well in high school, and so she went into doing odd jobs. Life has not been easy for her. But that is not why she was crying in a field in Westlands, Nairobi, on July 14.
She was among the hundreds who rose up early that Monday morning and showed up for the police recruitment. She was excited. Her younger sister had been selected in the previous year’s recruitment. She missed her chance then, but this time she was more hopeful.
“I am an orphan,” she begins her tale. “I live near Gigiri Police Station, and on the day of recruitment, I was among the first people to arrive at the recruitment centre.”
But even before the D-day, she was already cynical about her chances of making through. She had all the necessary qualifications, and in a perfect system, she would have made it.
“But that is not how things work in Kenya. Since the day the advert was put out in the papers, I heard that the OCPD was asking for Sh100,000 from those who wanted to secure their spots,” she explains.Brokers running back and forth
“On the recruitment day, we saw brokers running back and forth, checking who had paid and who had not, and taking their documents to their boss.”
Not only could she not afford the money, but she also came from the ‘wrong’ tribe. “They asked us our tribes, especially those whose names were ambiguous. Anyone who tried to complain that this was not a requirement was sent to the back of the line.”
The details of the corruption and tribalism she witnessed on that day are too many to fit into this account. Her academic documents were cleared without any hassle, a KCSE mean grade of C- (minus), and soon she hit the track running.
“The OCPD shortlisted the first 40 people to complete the race. I was at position 16 of the total 60 participants.”
The stage-one qualifiers waited around for two more hours to be taken for a medical check-up, only for a female officer to come and tell the OCPD,
“I just need six people from the 40.”
“Then they started eliminating us for very dubious reasons. Some of us were asked which tribe we came from. Others were told their legs were not fit enough while the rest did not understand why they were eliminated.”
How did she know that the police were receiving bribes in the first place?
“It is one of the junior officers who spilled the beans. One of them told us they had been promised Sh6,000 to look the other way, but they were only given Sh3,000. They got angry and started talking. They told us a senior officer had pocketed Sh1.8 million.”
“They wasted our time. They should have just told us in the advert that we need to have Sh100,000 to qualify. They made us wake up early and run around the pitch, and all for nothing,” says the orphan, whose father died and her mother killed herself after their land was grabbed by a powerful individual.
“Corruption has destroyed my family, and many more voiceless families are dying every day. I am an orphan because of corruption,” she says as she rues being born in this country.” - Daily Nation, Saturday July 26, 2014. African Scholarships
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