Sunday February 9 2014

FROM OVER THE SEAS :Ah, the police!

By Jan Ajwang

The loud sirens blared nearby. In Uganda, that means ‘serious’ trouble. Someone is going after protestors and the tear gas track is tagging after. It means ‘run, Jan run’ because anything could happen to you.

On this particular evening, the police is everywhere on horseback, in cars and on the ground. They have been deployed all over Cardiff City. They are next to the pubs or outdoor restaurants, some streets seem to be closed. It seems like a highly co-ordinated mission with calls here and there. Prepared and ready as if some suspects are all over the city and they needed to curb them at once. Yet the people go on about their own business. The city is busy with noise, music and ideally, there should not be any trouble.

However it turns out that it is just a rugby match at the stadium. The stadium is full, so are the pubs and the beer taps are open. People are going to get drunk and the police must be there to contain rowdy behaviour. See, if Wales loses it is going to be a long night and if it wins, it is going to be longer.

All that effort just for a rugby match? I expected intrigue, more noise, protestors, journalists being shoved away, angry chants and equally angry politicians inspiring more to join the noise; some gunshots in the background and the galloping of horses as their riders go after victims and a topping of tear gas and fear across the city. Nothing.

I remembered all those rugby matches back home that went with limited or no attention from the police. And my experience counting on the Uganda Police’s help that left me frustrated. Here probably an entire force was deployed to, I daresay babysit adults having a good time. I felt envious and disappointed because my cynical mind expected a more troubling scene. I thought those people were probably lucky to have full attention of the police even where I thought that it did not matter.

Probably the drunk sports fans in Cardiff can be just as complex as the protestors in Kampala and I suppose that the challenges of the police vary from country to country.