Skip to contentSearch for:Go!HomeAboutBlogPortfolioLandscape/PropertyLifestyle PortraitsCorporateWildlifeContact UsReason there are limited photographs of Nairobi-On the other side of the law.Home / 2017 / June / 27 / Kenyan Story / Reason there are limited photographs of Nairobi-On the other side of the law.Reason there are limited photographs of Nairobi-On the other side of the law.June 27, 2017by Yvonne AsikoNo comment(s)Kenyan Storylaw enforcement
This day began as an ordinary day, being a public holiday, we decided we were going to take advantage of the emptiness of town for some street photography. The universe however had far different plans for us as we later came to find out. The location for the shoot was that stretch at Alliance Francais, it was headed towards 6 so the ambiance was perfect. About to finish we decided to move further along just to expand the scope of the photos really, a change of scenery.
A few photos later, we were now at that stretch between the parking and Laico Regency, it has amazing lighting and at this point it was beginning to get lit. The artificial lights I mean, the way they are lined and set creates a picture perfect ambiance. A guy dressed in military regalia appeared from the corner followed by two others. They were all armed, in perfect uniform and red hats which I later came to find out is the GSU uniform.
They called out to us, we complied and that’s when the story began. It started with do we know where we were, to who gave us permission to use that location to shoot videos, to we are a threat to the National intelligence to no one really knows how Al Shabaab looks like and we might as well be them.
This all seemed foreign to us because we were just harmlessly taking photos of a street. We explained this and explained who we were but every attempt to show how harmless we were was treated as an act of unruliness. We had to now observe and listen and wait. They asked for our Identity cards which on removal, was a probe into something that seemed like another investigation. Where you from? What’s your tribe? Do you speak your native language? Where do you live here in the city? What do you do?
This escalated rather fast as we kept providing answers to the questions. Especially after we told them we write for an online magazine, they started pointing out that we are very notorious for potraying the law enforcement in bad light. What kinda news were we taking from there? Understandably, they were just doing their jobs and we were just doing ours so it reached a stale mate of sorts. We just stood there and listened. They kept pointing out who they were and what they were capable of doing. I recall one saying, “you know we didn’t even need to come all the way down here, all we would’ve done was assume that this was an act of terrorism and we would have just shot all of you from the building.” At some point they realized that we were just harmlessly taking photos unaware of the area that was protected by the government so their job was to warn us, have us delete the photos and that was it. One was quietly observing everything, the other was giving our ID’s back to us for us to go and the other was not quite ready to let us go that easy. He seemed hellbent on putting us behind bars.
He had this big talk on how on normal occasions he would have just hit us and we would be having this conversation while we lie on the ground, kama tumekanyagiwa. “Ama mnaona sisi ni wanyonge tuwaonyeshe saizi” he said. All threats of what he was capable of doing, eventually he called another guy told him what we were standing accused of and that he should come take us to central police. We were to sleep in the cell to be bailed out tomorrow.
The same conversation ensued until two men dressed in civilian attire walked towards us. We later came to find out they were police men who were now walking us to meet out fate. One of us didn’t have her ID and that was a huge problem. Everything he could argue he went back to her not having carried her identity card. Within seconds we were 3 average Kenyans surrounded with 5 law keepers our biggest crime being that of ignorance really. How often do you go around town looking at buildings and how they are guarded and actually standing to find out what happens there and why they are that guarded? Your fate and ours would’ve been the same.
They let us go eventually after they realized that after all these while, our story held. We were just harmlessly taking photos, the photos didn’t even show the building, we were forced to delete them however and given a warning that the next time they see us there they would not warn us, they would simply take matters into their own hands. Not really sure who won that battle or if it was even one to begin with, all I know is that, when the law catches you all you want to do is just get out of it. Most people argue that Kenyan’s don’t know their rights, that if anyone asks you to provide your ID you should ask for theirs and what nots. When confronted by 3 armed individuals, your staying free and alive seems more important.
Image source: BuzzKenya.com
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