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Caning could help restore order in national institutions

By Patrick Wachira
Monday, October 7th, 2019
Caning in institutions.

There is a man referred to as the Duke of Kabeteshire, otherwise going by the name of Charles Mugane Njonjo.

Just in case you are meeting him for the first time here, he dons three-piece suits, for as long as I can remember, and I happen to have a very long memory.

Now, this guy was Kenya’s Attorney General during the times of Uhuru Kenyatta’s father’s reign as President.

You know the guy; he does pin-stripped suits and pins a fresh rose carnation on the lapel of his jacket every morning. Some of the stripes on his suits are custom made, and bear his initials.

Njonjo was stern. I mean no nonsense. It was he who brought a piece of law that made it seditious to “imagine and encompass” the death of the President. A subject for another day!

More offences

At some point, irked by the tendency by university students to take to the streets at the slightest or no provocation, he suggested that the lads should be caned. A Kiswahili newspaper carried the headline: “Adhabu kali ya viboko ni lazima”.

The point was that wrongdoers should be caned, not dissimilarly to the manner juvenile offenders were caned.

Well, it is happening in Tanzania. Yes, some lads wanted to burn their school and were sniffed out just in time. A provincial administrator, like the DC we used to have not so long ago, did the caning. And he’s well fed so he had the energy to do it.

The matter caught the attention of President Pombe Maghufuli, who has since showered praise on the guy.

Now, I am not sure how much caning we need out here but we need some. Actually, a lot of it.

My first port of call is the country’s prisons.

I know human rights activists will find a job to do, calling me names but that is okay with me. I am made of tough hide.

The blokes who are in jail should be incarcerated. That is what the law says. Even Njonjo himself said jails are not holiday camps. And I agree.

But today jails are luxury joints. Or how else do inmates find time and resources to smuggle phones there?

They use them to swindle honest taxpayers like you and me, telling us they are on their way to disconnect our electricity accounts for non-payment. Or they will tell you “nitumie ile pesa na hii number. Ile ingine haifanyi kazi”.

But the jokers took the medal last week, demanding that crackdowns on their illegal activities be stopped. They even had a demo about it. Imagine!

I know inmates have fertile imaginations that tell them they have more rights than all of us put together but this was taking it far.

So, you are saying they commit offences and get sentences, and while serving time they want to be allowed to commit more offences? Am I missing something here?

As my friend Njonjo would have said, have our gaols become holiday camps?

My opinion is that a little caning would bring the chaps back to their senses. It is called corporal punishment, and I do not know why this thing was named after a police rank. 

Again, this is a topic for another day.

If we continue this way, we shall go the way of our western former colonists. You know the folks: They eat what they call supper and after that, they will still eat dinner. And there is a difference between the two. Did you know?

But back to our story. Out there in the West, if a burglar breaks into your house and you clobber him senseless, you run the risk of running afoul of the law. He could sue you for assault and actually get paid.

Become hero

I know that if a burglar did the same here and was caught in the act, you would become a hero if you broke his leg. If you broke both his legs, you even get a national medal.

Back in my days as a teacher, we caned offenders on their posteriors until they could not sit on their backsides for a few days.

If you asked us, we fell back on the good book that talks of sparing the rod and spoiling the child. We always won.

This is the way to win. As for the blokes serving time and finding time to torment us? Cane them a little. It does no harm. Just a few lashes. Whack! Whack! Whack!Have a pain-free week, folks!– The writer is Special Projects Editor, People Daily [email protected]