What you need to know:
We do not protest because it's fun but because we're scared of a future in which we won't even have a chance to protest anymore. But the police answer our efforts with violence.
Kenyan police are killers.
I know this for a number of reasons. I know this because, for one, every single protest I have ever been to has started with a deep seated fear that I will be shot at. For some protests, it wasn't the police who stopped us - it was a politician's antics. Every single protest outside of the two I am thinking of, has involved violence.
I've been out on a protest where the cops let us walk 200 metres before firing teargas canisters at us. I've been to a protest where the cop openly said to someone I was protesting with, that he only needed to shoot two young people today, and he would have had an accomplished day. I've been for protests where my friends were beaten and arrested by the cops. I've been to another where the discussion of whether or not to bring in water cannons was a passing consideration.
And yet, still I protest.
We're not doing this because it's fun and we want to put pictures on Instagram. We're going because we're scared of a future in which we won't even have a chance to protest anymore.
Of course dying scares me. It scares us all.
That's why I went for the protest against police brutality that took place on Monday - because every one of us is scared of dying, and everyone is scared of dying painfully. For some people, death is their reality now. I'm sure Samuel Maina was scared of dying. I'm sure 13-year-old Yassin Moyo hadn't even thought he could die. I'm sure Vaite didn't know that today was his day to go.
When we got to Uhuru Park on Monday, the first thing we saw was policemen with guns at the assembly point - ironically, Freedom Corner. No one had gathered, obviously, because who their right mind would be willing to confront the probably trigger-happy policemen?
Then we saw other people who had come to protest and walked around trying to decide what to do about the protest meant to happen. As we racked our brains, we saw an armoured vehicle pull up, with police officers who jumped out, wearing their red berets.
That's when I knew I wasn't going to be marching that day. Because my fear overrode every resolve I had to march for justice - much like any Kenyan who would rather not be on the streets, exposed and vulnerable to people with no morals and no sense of right and wrong. It felt like I was looking death in the face, and I wasn't ready to go.
Nothing prepares you to die. Just as nothing prepares you for the fact that the powers that be don't care if you do. And I knew they would not hesitate to send me there, which is why a handful of civilians were being confronted with armoured trucks. The proverbial gun to a stick fight. And they would kill me quick - Kenyan police have killed more Kenyans than Covid-19, more Kenyans than anywhere else in the world, this year. Nothing would make them hesitate.
I know Kenyan cops are killers, that’s why I walked away from that protest for a reason. I know they are killers every time people are protesting in town and their heads are pressed to a curb and left bleeding. I know they are killers when babies are not exempt from their cruelty, when the country is on fire and they add more wood to make it burn, when they don't care about civilians unless the civilians have money to send them to go get their cars from across the border.
But even more certainly, I know Kenyan cops are killers, and their bosses, who report to your leaders, who give the orders, are killers too.