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CITY GIRL: Kidero, how dare your askaris mess with me!

On Thursday last week, I found myself in an altercation with a group of county askaris. I was driving on Kenyatta Avenue, when one flagged me down.

At first, I thought they just wanted to say ‘hi’, but I was in for a rude shock.

Madam, umeruka taa (Madam, you have jumped the traffic lights),” said an askari who was obviously too old for the job.

“This must be a joke,” I thought to myself. I know I occasionally disobey traffic rules (I have been arrested several times for overlapping, driving on the wrong side and talking on phone), but certainly not today. The light was green and I remember quite well that I had 10 seconds on my side,  enough time for me to make a turn to the next street.

Hebu weka gari kando unafunga barabara (park on the side, you are obstructing),” he snapped at me like I was some hooker arrested on Koinange Street.

Meanwhile, a second askari, who looked like the first one’s father, was already at the passenger’s side, trying to open the door like he wanted to get into my car.

I quickly double-checked my doors to ensure they were locked and hastily rolled up the passenger’s window.

Then hell broke loose.

A third askari came to the driver’s side and asked me to park my car on the side, get out and get into an ugly pick-up waiting nearby.

Sitaingia kwa hiyo gari yenu, kwani mimi ni hawker?” I shouted.

No way on God’s green earth was I going to leave the comfort of my car in my short dress and five-inch heels and climb that rickety jalopy.


They would hear none of it. The third askari, whom the others called ‘Inspector’, told me, “Wacha kubishana, madam, unadhani sisi ni wajinga?”  (Stop arguing. Do you think we are fools?)

I was seething with rage. I was not going to let these underpaid kanjos ruin my day, especially when I was convinced I had made no mistake. A fourth joined us, attracting a small crowd. Hoping that nobody was silly enough to record a video, I screamed at the kanjos, telling them I would not allow them to intimidate me simply because I appeared young and vulnerable.

What pissed me off the most was  that a vehicle on the same street had made a wrong U-turn right in front of the uniformed old men and just because it had a blue number plate — a government plate — they let it go.

“If you are not going to leave your car, let me call the break down people to come and tow it,” one of them threatened.

“What! Breakdown? Tow my car? Who will pay?”  I thought. I had to act fast. I feigned courage and called their bluff.

Sawa basi, wacha wakuje, who is your boss? I want to talk to your boss!” I screamed.

Meanwhile, I was on the lookout towards the street ahead of me, waiting and praying that the traffic clears for me to drive away.

God heard my prayers. As the askari was busy scrolling his mulika mwizi handset, I saw an opportunity, started my car and sped off down the street like I owned it.

One of them shouted, “Madam usijaribu kutoroka!” (Madam, don’t you dare run away!)


Well, I did. I took off and left them there, the four of them and their ugly pick-up reeling from what just happened.

When I got to the office and narrated the story to my colleagues, I realised I was not the only victim of these county askaris who falsely accuse motorists of traffic offences for the sole purpose of extortion.

The askaris are a menace. They are clueless about traffic rules because very few of them have basic training on traffic regulations.

They stand in the sun in their ugly grey uniforms, like scavengers, waiting to pounce on timid motorists.

To Governor Kidero, if your city traffic marshals are colour blind and cannot tell green from red, whose problem is it? Yours or mine? If your askaris are clueless and cannot control vehicles, then why are you still the city chief executive officer?

Kidero, my fellow Nairobians who were impressed by your “Dr” title and your iPad voted for you to bring order to the city, not to get harassed on their way to building the nation.

The reason you are in the governor’s seat today is to ensure that my life as a Nairobian is taken care of. I don’t have to spend my morning arguing with fools who can neither count nor tell green from red.

Kidero, this is the first and the last time I am dedicating half a page ranting about your failures as governor. Next time I or any of my friends are falsely accused by those hobos you have planted on the streets, I will not write about it here. I will slap you with an impeachment.