KENYAN CHIEF JUSTICE:His fashion sense is more important than your brains

“There is perhaps no phenomenon which contains so much destructive feeling as “moral indignation,” which permits envy or hate to be acted out under the guise of virtue”-Erich Fromm

Update:The Prime Minister and President just apporved the nominations,let us see what Parliament does now.

Out of all the candidates who were interviewed for the CJ position in Kenya by the Judicial Service Commission Willy Mutunga and Nancy Barasa were found most fit for the position of CJ and Deputy CJ respectively.Both of them have been activists in the past with Dr Willy Mutunga having been an active participant in the fight for democracy and Ms Nancy Baraza being one of the founders of FIDA a non governmental organization that provides legal assistance to indigent women.The two have been labeled as “outsiders” having come from outside the judicial circle but are a sign of the new order of doing things as envisioned y the new constitution.

The interview process by the newly formed Judicial Service commission was carried out over two weeks and when they announced the nominations of the two for appointment by the Prime Minister and the President ,the chair of the interviewing body Professor Christine Mango herself was all smiles.You could clearly see the pride they had in their choice of the two and it was hoped this would be a chance to whip the judicial system into shape as well as to give it a new lease of life with the overhauling of the system that was expected when the new CJ took over.

The names were forwarded to the President and Prime Minister for appointment together with the names of other candidates who qualified for other judicial offices.However it seems as Kenyans we love squabbling over non issues and already these two appointments have generated heated debated over the way they have been appointed , none has bemused me than the one that some individuals,politicians and part of the church have objected to Willy Mutungas appointment because he wears an earring.

The good professor who was once a political detainee,taught law at the University of Nairobi,chaired the Law Society of Kenya and is regional head of the Ford Foundation as well as being a Director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission scored very highly during the interview process.His credentials though showing stellar performance in all his previous posts and having been a pro democracy activist too pale in comparison to his fashion sense-the fact that he wears an earring is what is dominating debate over his nomination !

A very prominent politician was captured on national TV saying that if we had a CJ with an earring ,it spelled doom for this country and the only thing that could save us was prayers.For a country that boasts of being 70% Christian we sure arent showing any love for Dr Mutunga,his character is being crucified left,right ,center because of some jewelery he has chosen to adorn his left ear with.The Bible has the story of the woman caught in adultery(John8;7) and when the crowds brought her to Jesus hoping he would pass judgment on her he told them”let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”The crowd which had gathered baying for the woman’s blood walked away in shame because Jesus had caught them out in their hypocrisy.In my reading of the Gospels,i never recall Jesus condemning anyone,in fact his band of disciples was made up of people from all walks of life.The church in joining this debate has already taken sides against Dr Mutunga,this institution that is meant to be the standard bearer of Christ’s message of love has joined in the debate over non -issues when o many Kenyans are suffering as a result of a skewed and corrupt judicial system.

Time and again Professor Mutunga has said his earring is not a symbol of his sexuality but goes deeper than that.On his earring he was quoted in the Daily Nation here as saying “I wear my ear ring not because of my sexuality but spirituality. There is no way I can remove this ear ring even if I become the Chief Justice. If am told I must remove it to get the job of Chief Justice I will say keep your job”.The moralizing that is going on because he wears jewelery is shameful for a society such as ours living in the 21st century.The country has seen worse evils than this taking place and none of these politicians or clergy have come up in defense of the victims.

Recently CNN through its special feature program Inside Africa had a story of the beading practice in Samburu,where with just a beaded necklace young girls barley in their teens are forced to have sex with men.The story is a shame to say the least from a country that hopes to achieve its vision 2030 and you can read it here

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Kenya in the past recent months has been receiving a lot of coverage from CNN on issues from mental health,to the Nubian search for identity and i have never heard either the politicians or the church that is objecting to Willy Mutunga’s nomination speak out.

In casting aspersions on Willy Mutunga’s character and not his credentials the people objecting to his nomination have shown they are more concerned with appearances rather than substance.What we should be concerned about are whether we can trust Professor Mutunga and Nancy Barasa to deliver on judicial reforms,whether they are persons of integrity and if they can deliver in ensuring that Kenyans who have their day in court are heard without any brown envelopes exchanging hands.The objections to their appointments should be on facts and not the fiction that has been dreamed up by imaginative minds.

It is time Kenyans moved away from the endless squabbles that characterize nominations to high office.The new constitution that we passed into law last year with so much promise will prove to be nothing if we are still hanging on to the old way of doing things.What research has been done to prove that wearing an earring clouds your sense of judgment or renders you an idiot?Or how does wearing an earring influence the sexual orientation of those around you?Come on Kenyans let us get serious and get on with the program of change that is set to sweep this country.

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