Security is not a matter merely of armed policemen

Sunday March 20 2016

President Uhuru Kenyatta inspects a gun mounted on top of an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) when he commissioned APCs for the Kenya Police Service at GSU Headquarters in Ruaraka. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

President Uhuru Kenyatta inspects a gun mounted on top of an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) when he commissioned APCs for the Kenya Police Service at GSU Headquarters in Ruaraka. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Though every government has a “security” ministry, security should actually subsume all governmental activities.

Yet, even in our own government’s appallingly narrow definition of security, the government has several security dockets, including internal and external safety.

But even these do not adequately define security. If they did, President Kenyatta would not appoint a ministry of Agriculture to secure Kenyans from hunger.

In this sense, each Cabinet member is a security official. Education – training of the mind and the hand – should be the most important of these social security arrangements. For the chief purpose of education is to commit the minds and hands of all our youngsters to the communal task of creating a national Shangri-la of security.

A society’s youth need both knowledge and skills for exactly the same reason that the politician is always shouting to us about “unity”. The trouble is that, due to the same politician’s own self-pursuits and looseness of the tongue – he or she is always saying things that succeed only in dividing Kenyans along precisely such seams as gender, race, religion and tribe.

Yet members of the same government who perennially appeal to us to unite are the ones guilty of this negligence.

Education – civilisation of the mind – is what can secure Kenyans from harming one another from such narrow standpoints as tribe, race and gender. It is the only means by which any 21st-century society can create the knowledge and skills with which to commit its youth to one another in unity.

That is the fundamental purpose for which any modern society needs to be governed. No, security is not a matter merely of armed policemen and militias. The presence of these may, of course, contribute to that general feeling of safety from other human beings.


But, as the Russian tsar once found out, the best investment in security is not guns but to make double sure that no stomach is empty, no human body is diseased, no mind is ignorant, every family is housed.

That is why thinking Kenyans worry whenever the media report that our security organs have become the most important conduits of contraband, especially that cool money is passing from hand to hand in a manner that threatens to condemn this country to the law of the jungle.

In Switzerland, although policemen swarm like bees everywhere, you never actually see them because they are trained never to strut like peacocks, never to demand any chai – at least not as uncouthly as in Kenya. The chief problem with our world’s governments is that each one sees its own security as identical to the security of the whole people. Yet government spokespeople are never ashamed to call it “national security” when what they mean is merely the security of the clique at the apex of power.

The problem with most Third World countries is that the ruling cliques always behave as though their own personal security as individuals is the same thing as the security needs of the whole population – with the result that the government concerned is completely negligent of such really urgent national security needs as food, housing, medicine, education and suchlike.

As I saw during the first half of Milton Obote’s second regime – namely, in post-Idi Amin Uganda – certain governments deliberately dispatch policemen and women to harass and even rob the people whenever members of such governments have run out of ideas on how to rule in a manner sanctioned by the comity of nations.

Our government seems aware of those premises. But UhuRuto must move fast to stop the trend which some financial institutions are taking because such a trend is what is likely to sow the seeds of discord between the government and the people.