Maxims. Like “you should know people,” if they turn out paradoxical have a way of leaving humanity with deep lessons and sometimes regrets. The Kenyan Deputy Chief Justice who is also the Vice President of the Supreme Court Nancy Barasa is effectively out of office because of pinching a guard’s nose. But with her exit, there is a likelihood of the death of “you should know people.”
When the story of the incident hit airwaves, a maxim was born, “you should know people.” Well, the use was certainly bloated and varied, but one thing is certain, the decision by the Ramadhan led tribunal does at least one thing, it creates a dent in Kenya’s linguistic boom.
I moan the short lividness of the maxim, just as Barasa’s stint at the judiciary. The phrase coined by Barasa in her rage added an awesome collection to Kenya’s vocabulary. And if there is someone who took advantage of the collection was I.
When a tout rudely served my good friend Olive, and she became enraged, I simply told her to tell the tout to “know people.” Well, Olive is not a deputy CJ, but she has aspirations of becoming a CJ. Whenever I said that, Olive would smile and her rage would wane.
Such was the therapeutic effect of Barasa’s coinage. Indeed, if you have encountered private guards in Kenya, sometimes you are tempted to tell them, “to know people” even if you are unknowable or simply unknown.
When Ramadhan asked the president to relieve Barasa off her duties, he did not know that he was robbing me of a therapeutic phrase.
With such an outcome, when you tell someone, “you should know people,” you could as well be saying, “I am undeserving of being known.” I moan, I moan the death of my phrase, I moan that is his pursuit of justice, Ramadhan robbed Kenya a phrase, and when Olive is rudely served again, I do not know any other response I would cheer her up with.”
Every death nevertheless births newness, and there is a new name that has been imprinted on the scripts of Kenya’s true liberation struggle. Rebecca Kerubo.
Just this morning, I was listening to a favorite morning show on radio when the popular journalist said he could never wrap his mind around the fact that Kerubo declined a 3.5 million shillings settlement offer from the deputy Chief Justice.
I find Kerubo a true icon of Kenya’s pursuit of justice. Kerubo has bridged a gap that would have taken us centuries and created a precedence that will require strict honesty as a country to uphold.
We have, as a nation established that pinching noses costs presidency. And that a guard’s apprehension when she is told you should know people will cost the second senior most judicial officer her position.
When the counsel for Kerubo was excluded from the hearings of the tribunal, I in a moment thought Kerubo would know people. I therefore waited with bated breath for the decision.
In country where the AG writes to the High Court contending that “presumption of innocence” excused persons indicted of mass murder to vie for presidency, where “the premier’s assistants are implicated in almost every saga. Mohamed Isahakiah, the maize scam, the NHIF and most recently the National Housing Corporation mentions I thought indeed we would have to know people.
I thought, the commission would embroil itself in legalese and laws and legalities. Strictly speaking, frisking of a body is a form of a search of person and the statutes that govern such does not give any reference whatsoever to private guards. But we wove ourselves in legal moral expectations and codes and found Barasa wanting.
After the promulgation of the New Constitution, there have arisen numerous incidents when the law is inconclusive about a host of issues. In the immediate, the country is gripped with anxiety whether the candidature of three Kenyan’s indicted at the ICC would be allowed. Some of these issues have come as gripping substantial issues some as comical trivia, but we have tottered on quite impressively.
We have debated these issues as nation sometimes letting them fizzle into non existence
One major characteristic though has been our inability to divorce partisanship when discerning ambiguities. I remember when the whole country was ushered into an English class, trying to determine what “Consultation is.”
I remember when the debate was raging; I remember a premise of justifying the President’s non consultation with the Premier in the appointment of the CJ, AG and DPP. In excusing the President’s action we were treated to awesome arguments but this stood out: The drafting reads, …the function MAY be performed or the power exercised only on… the use of MAY, rather than MUST, absolved the president of any obligation to be tried to any tedious consultations, advices or no forthcoming consensus.
In my view such an opinion amounted to a legitimization of imperialism, the very ghost that the republic was trying to run away from with the new dispensation. Worse still, since the contention was in regard to consultation, necessitated by the National accord, the assertion amounted to reducing the murderous spree and rapes that rocked the Republic during the 2008 post poll mayhem into a linguistic battle between MAY and MUST.
But in our differences, we have been whipped into agreement by the aspirations we espoused in the constitution and it is this whip that stretched Kerubo’s nose to the Supreme Courts vice Presidency.
Our interpretation of the Barasa saga is minimally varied. A few feel it is a witch hunt, a few, may be tampering justice and mercy feel her moment of rage could have been excused. A few feel, that being excused from duty is inadequate, and that the DPP should prefer criminal charges for assault; we all believe in one thing though: The judiciary needs public confidence.
I think that no matter the tears we shed now, the discomfort we have to endure and preferences we have to shed, ambitions that we have to discard and the costs in time and money we have to endure; would in the be worth.
When it comes to matters integrity and leadership we must strain to hand posterity a country that has a pure threshold. We will have to tamper existence or non existence of laws with our aspirations as a nation. Politics and politicians will fade with time, but the precedence we set will outlive our memories.
I am interested, in knowing whether we will live to Kerubo. Whether as a country we are willing to sustain this threshold, whether pinching noses will deny us presidencies. I hope it does, I hope the Kerubo spirit lives on, and everyone compromised faces such strictness until we create a tradition.
Meanwhile, I moan. What I did not tell you is that Ms. Nancy Barasa was my lecturer. And she was pretty motherly. Meanwhile, my friend Erick Arwa would say, Ramadhan used Kiswaeng to kill our maxim; our “you should know people”. I moan