I can’t think of any reason why a police officer in Kenya should get a free ride in a matatu (minibus use for public transport). As far as I know there’s no law that says, “If you see a cop walking, give him a ride.” It happens all the time, though: some cop walking on the side of the road flags down a matatu and the guy jumps in. For some reason every non-Kenyan person I complain to has the gut reaction to tell me that its because cops “serve the public.” Um, hello? Which Kenya do you live in?
Ugh. In the Kenya I live in cops don’t serve the public, they run death squads, beat matatu drivers for turning at the wrong place, and raid gay weddings. The Kenya police have been consistently rated among the most corrupt institutions in Kenya and even the most corrupt institution in East Africa. I’ve even been hassled by cops a number of times for doing things like not carrying a receipt for my laptop, not wearing a seatbelt, and talking to a friend on the street corner next to my house after dark.
I have almost no respect for Kenyan cops, but it wasn’t always like that — maybe I was just naive when I came to Kenya? My opinion of Kenyan police officers is a product of living in Kenya for three years. They misuse the law and invent new ones when the law isn’t in their favor (no, really. Don’t ask them to show you the law… haha). The cop doesn’t get a ride because, “Aww, the poor, good officer of the law shouldn’t have to walk,” he gets it because he will give you a hard time next time you pass his checkpoint if you don’t pick him up.
There seems to be little reason to be a “good” cop, though. The pay is shitty and I’ve heard the living situation is pitiful (living in tin shacks, sleeping on cots, no privacy when the wife comes to visit). I guess we can’t blame them for being corrupt, but still, why was he walking on the side of the road anyways? Isn’t there an official protocol for these kinds of things? You know, a cop car?
Karibu Kenya, hakuna matata! (welcome to Kenya, no problems!)