Tuesday, November 16, 2010


The Police Station
It was Saturday afternoon, and I was slumped in front of the TV with only a glass of brandy for company, when I heard a knock, and then a voice said ‘Odi?’
‘Odini,’ I replied, as into the room stepped a flashily dressed young man in a white linen suit, red silk shirt, and long pointed shiny black shoes with gold buckles.
‘Hullo Unko Kalaki,’ he said, stretching out a hand, ‘where’s Aunty Sara?’
‘Gone off somewhere to put the world to rights,’ I sighed.
‘I know you don’t remember me,’ he said, as I directed him towards a battered sofa. ‘I’m your nephew Dingiswayo, Aunty Jane’s second born!’
‘Now I remember,’ I laughed. ‘You’re Dirty Dingi, the one that got expelled from Lunami Secondary for killing and cooking the headmaster’s dog.’
‘That was long ago, Unko,’ he grinned, showing me several gold teeth. ‘I’m now a policeman! I’m Inspector Dingiswayo Kanunka, Officer-in-Charge at Lingalonga Police Post!’
‘Well done!’ I said, as I poured him a brandy. ‘I knew from your early days of thievery that you’d do well! But how did you manage to rise so quickly to such an elevated position in society?’
‘I bought the business for only 200 million last year!’
‘For 200 million?’ I gasped. ‘How is that possible?’
‘It wasn’t difficult,’ he laughed. ‘The previous year I had brought in four hot Mercs from Joburg. So I thought I’d invest the proceeds into a respectable little business.’
‘No, I meant how is it possible to buy a police post?’
‘You’re so out of date, Unko,’ laughed Dirty Dingi. ‘It’s all part of the government’s privatisation policy, introduced by little Kafupi. The Police Farce is now run on a franchise system, just like O’Hagans or Rhapsody’s.’
‘How can a police post be like Rhapsody’s.’
‘Simple,’ laughed Dirty Dingi. ‘Rhapsody’s is part of a franchise company that provides the menu, training and d├ęcor. In the same way Lingalonga Police Post is an independent business, except that it is provided with uniforms, guns and tear gas canisters by the franchise company, the Police Farce.’
‘So you went for special training?’
‘Of course. I had to learn how to hit people with batons, stamp on them, fire tear gas at them, shoot them, and so on. All the essential police services that the government provides to the people.’
‘So how does your business make money?’
‘In all sorts of ways. With our road blocks we charge motorists for passing through Lingalonga. We charge unlicensed liquor traders for protection from prosecution. We charge complainants for the service of locking up suspects, and then charge the suspect’s family for letting them out again. The business is a little gold mine.’
‘Don’t you have to charge suspects and take them to court?’
‘This is called community policing, so we administer our own punishments as an immediate deterrent. After we’ve finished with them they’re in no condition to go to court.’
‘What about the women prisoners, do they get the same treatment?’
‘We are very gender aware,’ he leered, as he licked his lips and checked his zip. ‘For the ladies we provide a very special service.’
‘What about this recent riot in Sewage Compound, where the police had to flee?’
‘It seems the Sewage police were over zealous in their work. At KigaliTraining School we were trained to beat with sticks but not axes, whip with belts but not barbed wire, squeeze testicles but not pull them off. So I always follow the rules so as not to annoy the citizens.’
‘So you never take people to court?’
‘Only in special cases. For instance, if one of our thieves strays into Kabulonga and steals from the rich, then of course that’s a court case. If we don’t protect the rich from the poor then the entire economic system would collapse. And of course if the leadership wants to fix somebody, then it is our national duty to find something they have done wrong, and immediately hand them over to the court. These are not matters for our own profit, but our obligations to the overall franchise company, the Police Farce.’
‘Well,’ I said, ‘I must congratulate you on running such a profitable little business. I can see that, in the present political climate, you’re just the sort of person who is going to go far.’
‘That’s why I came to see Aunty,’ he answered in a confidential tone. ‘I’m planning to stand as member of parliament for Lingalonga at the next election, so I’ll need campaign funds for bribing voters.’
‘And what will be your campaign manifesto?’
‘I shall tell them that if they vote for me they will get electricity, a clinic and a school – all the things they have only dreamed about. And I shall tell them that if I find anyone who intends to vote against me, I shall set the thugs of the Merciless Mad Dogs upon them.’
‘There you are!’ I said. ‘You already have your established methods and principles. So why change now, and start bribing people?’
‘I hadn’t thought of that,’ he said, as he stood up to go. ‘But you’re right. My principle has always been that people must pay me, but I never pay them.’
‘Better to avoid bribery,’ I said, as I opened the door for him.
‘Thanks for the advice, Unko,’ he replied. ‘We must all continue the fight against corruption.’


  1. Thank for this Kalaki, so many issues raised that our counrty is still grappling with. Though i feel sad, it feels as though we are going nowhere. How do we young people aspire to make a positive conribution to developing our country?

  2. well articulated scenario unko kala, very true in the actual sense . the cure to these is what we hope to see or find ,i can imagine if the moneys raised dubiously wud find itself in the right coffers , aha Ngombe compound would have a general hospital and misisi a secondary school

  3. Indeed uncle Roy, our police get away with insurmountable nonsense in this country. What to do? I find that I get hghly infuriated after a police post encounter but thereafter I truly am so irritated by the way the system works that I dread to report further. Same thing with restaurants, high commissions etc I dont see my complaints being acted on and so I just leave it be...until the next unpleasant encounter.
    Kiki Mudenda

  4. I have always thought that we should peharps change the way we recruit our police. At present the recruitment is such that all the unproductive nephews and nieces of senior officer and politicians are favour. why not make the recruit to be school based, where the police recruiters go to secondary school to select candidates for the services. at least at grade 12 one would assume they have not yet been "convented"

  5. Good god you are funny!!!! Am catching up after a long absence and have got to this post and fallen off my chair.
    Thank you and I'll carry on reading now!
    Tanvi Bush (Cambridge)