On Friday 26 June, 2015 at 8:01 a.m. Diane Naomi Omondi (hereafter referred to as “I”) was stopped by a police officer because of using a mobile phone while driving. The officer greeted me, then politely asked for my driving license. “I want to give you a ticket,” he said. “Do you agree that you were talking on your phone while driving?” I responded in the affirmative.
He proceeded to write a ticket, checking the phone’s serial number, time of call, and other details for the record. I was told to report to traffic court the following Monday at 8 a.m.
On Sunday 28 June, my dear husband visited the Karen Police Station on my behalf to request that my court date be moved from Monday to Tuesday. The officer agreed, changed the date on the ticket and put a rubber stamp on the change. No cash was requested or exchanged.
On Tuesday 30 June at 9:30 a.m. (yes, 1 1/2 hours late but don’t worry; this is Kenya!), I arrived at Kibera Law Courts. When my case was called, I agreed that the charge was true as read. I was found guilty and sentenced to pay a 500 shillings ($5.00) fine, failure to which I would serve 5 days in jail. End of story.
This experience was very, very encouraging from start to finish. But IF you don’t live in Kenya, that statement probably makes no sense. Allow me to explain.
- The officer was courteous. There was no ranting, intimidation, shouting or harassment.
- No opportunity was given for me to offer a bribe — even if I had wanted to.
- A ticket was written on the spot without cash bail.
- I was not railed upon to carry the police officer in my car to the station, hand over the keys, or surrender my license.
- The date was changed without an attempt at “alternative arrangements” i.e. a bribe.
- I paid the fine, in cash, in the courtroom — instead of being escorted directly to the cells to wait it out while a ‘good Samaritan’ would have to endure several hours of chaos trying to pay on my behalf!
Believe me, the opposite of all of these is the norm in our land. This unprecedented experience has renewed my hope in this nation, in the police reforms, and in the possibility that perhaps, one day, we will see a Kenya that is free of corruption. How refreshing!
In relation to our ‘Like a Child’ theme, I was pondering how a child’s moral reasoning is different from that of an adult. Scripture recognizes this difference by stating, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child and reasoned like a child.” In the understanding of a child, rules made by an authority are final and cannot be changed. Every disobedience must be punished.
This is quite in contrast to the relativistic thinking of today, where ‘anything goes.’ Or, where we believe we can wiggle, squirm or bribe our way out of just punishment.
God and His Word are to be our authority.
- If God says that sex before marriage is wrong, then it is.
- If God says that we should tithe, whether or not there seems to be any ‘extra’ money, then we should.
- If God says ‘forgive’ — even when hurt — then we need to forgive.
- If God says that a man should not have sexual relations with another man, then that is our standard. The Supreme Court, try as it may, does not have the right to change God’s laws.
Sometimes we do not like the rules. Sometimes the rules do not “make sense.” Sometimes they feel stifling or restricting. Sometimes it feels like God expects too much of us.
I submit that the world today needs a stronger moral compass, a sharper conscience, a more definitive line between good and evil. For us, if God says it, that’s the way it is. There is no negotiation with the consequences of sin, except the amazing gift of God’s available grace.
P.S. I paid the fine!!