The one about rioters

Insepctor Tembo learned the hard way how to tear gas a crowd

In Summary

• Sgt Makini gets a history lesson from his boss on how his troubles began

The inspector opens up on his professional woes
The inspector opens up on his professional woes

Inspector Tembo and I are at Ponda Mali Bar, the only place one can partake of a legal brew at Jiji Ndogo. The Inspector is swallowing bottles one after the other as if they’re going out of fashion.

“You might wanna slow down a tad, Inspector,” I advise. “It’s only the two of us at the police post, so without a night shift, we’re technically still on duty.”

“Screw duty, Serge. The bars just opened. Weh jibamba for now. Waiter!”


“You still have one unopened bottle, sir.”

“It’s getting lonely. Did I ever tell you about that time we went to quell rioting university students?”

I settle down, knowing once the Inspector got started, there was no stopping him.

Well, I was a rookie cop. Barely two years in the service. My commander was a no-nonsense son-of-a-gun called Senior Inspector Kithinji. Word around the force was that he once caught a bullet with his bare teeth.

Stop laughing. It’s true. He had a scar on his cheek and two missing teeth from the time Wanugu, you know, the robber, shot him in the mouth.

Anyway, those entitled college brats decided the President wasn’t doing such a good job for trimming their meal plans or something, and went on a rampage.

We caught up with them on Moi Avenue, tried shooting the air to no effect. So, SI Kithinji ordered us to tear gas them. I was a rookie, right? So, no riot gun. I had to throw the tear gas canister by hand.


I got one out of my kit, stepped away from formation, threw it and ran back for cover.

“What the hell did you just do?” Kithinji screamed.

“I threw tear gas?” I screamed back.

“I know that, you idiot. Did you take out the pin?”

“The pin? What pin?”

You should’ve seen how the other officers looked at me. If eyes were daggers, I’d have been stabbed a thousand times. Suddenly, their eyes shifted to the crowd of students. With the pin intact, my canister had not detonated.

One of the students, a mjuaji for sure, took the canister, removed the pin and threw it back at us. The burger was a good marksman, too. The canister landed inside the hood of one of my colleague’s raincoats. And exploded.

The stinging gas and smoke enveloped us. All hell broke loose as we scattered in all directions, the students on our heels. The hunter had become the hunted.

I stumbled and fell. Hurt my ankle. In a flash, the students were upon me, raining bare knuckles and crude weapons on me. Then I heard a gunshot. My attackers scattered. A strong arm gripped and hauled me to my feet, dragged me to safety in an alley.

It was Senior Inspector Kithinji.

He ordered two officers to take me to the patrol car, which ferried me to hospital. The following day he came by my bed at the hospital and I thought, how nice of him.

“How’re you doing?” he asked.

“I’m well, sir.” I saluted. “Ready to report back to duty, sir.”

“Good. You can report to duty when you’re ready, but I would advise you try another line of work. Like becoming a hawker. They usually riot, too, and that way when I come across you, I can beat your ass to a pulp.”

And so, son, that’s how I got removed from under Senior Inspector Kithinji’s command, and because word goes around pretty fast in the force, that’s how my problems started.

“Where the hell is that waiter with our drinks?”