THE NAKED KENYAN “EMPEROR”

The Nancy Baraza saga has received a lot of coverage.

It reminds me a lot of the children’s bedtime story “The Emperor’s New Clothes”

Here is the story by Hans Christian Andersen

When the Honorable judge was appointed as Deputy Chief Justice the public put in her and the Chief Justice’s hands the scales of justice.

 

What the saga at the village market reveals is that sometimes the people we put in public positions let the heady air of “being special” get to the heads.

But it is not Nacy Baraza’s fault that she thought she was too special to get through the rigours of a search when Kenya is facing terror attacks.

It ois the fault of all Kenyans.

We are much  like the two courtiers the Emperor sent to inspect the cloth the swindlers were sewing and who came back and told him that the cloth was the most beautiful they had ever seen.

We treat our MP’s and other senior government officials like the ground they walk on is to be worshipped,forgetting that they are first and foremost public servants,enjoying the privileges they have courtesy of the Kenyan tax payer.

We fe’te them and sing their praises at weddings,funerals and political rallies and they begin to think that it is their right to be treated that way.

We lie to them that they clothes they are wearing are the most beautiful have the most amazing colors when the brash and abrasive manner they treat the mwananchi reveals their nakedness.

We lie to them that everyone needs to admire their new clothes when all they are baring to us is their naked love for power and their need to rule over others as a form of cover up for their insecurities.

Like the emperor who could not see the clothes the weavers were making for him,they feel slighted when mere security guards do not recognize their office.

They forget their “office” is nothing but a shadow.

Just like the emperor’s handlers,assistants were too afraid to tell the emperor that he was being lied to when the truth was before their eyes,these men and women of high office have let their minions mislead them especially when it comes to public opinion.

It took the voice of a child to say what everyone was afraid to say;”But the Emperor has no clothes!”

Hopefully that reminds us that we should not take off the clothes of humility,service ,truth and respect of the law for the non- existent garments made of pride,having a superiority complex and insecurity when we assume any” office”.

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.

Kenyan Job Interviews:The Search for Chief Justice is not a trial of Character

Going for a job interview is nerve wracking but in Kenya it also has the added feel like you are a war criminal at Nuremberg.Often times this works to the detriment of both the job seeker and potential employer because sometimes the questions thrown make you feel like you are doing mental gymnastics.You have to prove your competency,then you are asked what you would do to change the system in 100 days then back to the way some of your past decisions lacked wise judgment,it is simply commendable the verbal assault job seekers survive just to prove they are employable.

The recent interviews carried out on live TV for the positions of Chief Justice were a case in point where the questions thrown at the aspirants for the seat felt like they were the accused and the interviewers were members of the Spanish inquisition.Picture this a judge who had been on the bench for years being asked why some of his rulings have been most times not in favour of this or that religious group?or you have a second lower degree and it seems this may hinder your contextualization of judgment?or your rulings are inflammatory and sweeping?are the commissioners play acting for the cameras?At one time some commissioners apologized for their colleague’s hard stance on one of the judges.I was watching them and i was literally squirming in my seat on behalf of Judge Bosire and Nyamu.

What was worse is that the Kenyan media have picked up on this line of questioning that was taken by commissioners and have been running the clips of these interviews.In my opinion most of the line of questioning pursued was meant to cast aspersions on the character and rulings of the Judges.It never cast any of them in favorable light and for the media to pick the views expressed by the commissioners as truth will deny Kenyans who never watched the whole shenanigan on TV the truth.
I really do commend the two judges for showing enough mettle and decorum even when the line of questioning bordered on personal attacks.

It does no good to portray a senior member of the bench as being incompetent or lacking in wise judgment on rulings that he has made in the past.The best line of questioning would have been one where the aspirants skills and knowledge and character would lend to the credibility of the position of the Chief Justice.This is because for the longest time the Kenyan judiciary has received a lot of flack for being corrupt and slow,where cases take forever before they are heard and people have been known to wallow in the cells for months awaiting to appear before a judge.

That being said,the live coverage of the interviews was a great example of the way all interviews in Kenya are carried out.If interview panels in Kenya do not go to the same school or read from the same script i will be damned!

An interviewer walks into a room where the panel interviewing for a particular position sits stern faced and like they would rather be somewhere else than facing you for this menial job you have applied for.They have already assumed you cannot perform the job you have been called for and you have to start proving that you are worthy of the now hallowed position.Most times it feels like you are being asked to walk on hot live coals to get the position.From there it becomes an uphill task where you have to counter their doubting Thomas outlook by proving that you are not some bumbling idiot who just happened to walk off the street into their offices.

Why these panelist always make potential employees feel small,desperate and insignificant during job interviews is beyond me.Would it not save time and energy involved in being mean to just make the process smooth and enjoyable for all the parties involved.It has been shown even in police investigations , that you get more credible information from taking a friendly approach to interviews.Remember the good cop ,bad cop scenario in most movies,even Jack Bauer knows that(in some cases of course).

Let us change the way we do interviews and especially for positions that call for the holders of these offices to carry with them a certain amount of respect.The dressing down of potential candidates for the position of the Chief Justice in front of the public eye does no goodwill to the individual who will eventually get the post.Let the commissioners abandon their line of questioning and adopt one that will make the interview process a credible one ,that will see us get a Chief Justice who is honest,credible,wise,not swayed by opinion and whose dignity was not left on the hot seat at the Judicial Service Commission interviews.