The Politics of Kenyan Lawyers

In my freshman year at Law School, I remember hearing the phrase: ‘law is politics and politics is law’, which later made sense to me since the ruling party of the day has a hand in both the enactment and implementation of any country’s laws. It is therefore a widely accepted fact that most lawyers are drawn to politics, particularly to the floor of the elected House as members of the legislature and then the executive.

In the US, for instance, 26 out of the 44 Presidents were lawyers including the incumbent Barack Obama. Here in Kenya, our President and Prime Minister may not be lawyers but we have a Cabinet littered with legal practioners starting with the Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka. By willingly accepting the unenviable role of the President’s special envoy on the deferral of the ICC trials of the “Hague Six”, many have questioned why the V-P failed to advise the President both as a lawyer and a former Foreign Affairs Minister, on the contents of the Rome Statute.
In Kalonzo’s defence, his boss, the President has not been a shining example of good leadership either. And as far as flip-flopping and opportunism goes, who can forget when Kibaki, one of the world’s longest serving MPs, once infamously said that to try remove Kanu from power was to cut the mugumo tree with a razor – only later to leave Kanu and form DP.

But I digress.

My thesis is simple: for as long as our country will continue producing lawyers, there will no doubt be a fair number of them who cross over from the corridors of justice to the annals of political power. So allow me to briefly canvas a few of your legally-inclined politicians.

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Fearing What’s Next: Kenyatta, Marende and Parliament

I am writing to you from a country where generations have grown up fearing the government. A country that has never been free.
In the past, there were several particularly oppressive periods, among them the colonial era during the Mau Mau times then later during the last years of Kenyatta’s regime and ofcourse the Moi era. Granted, during the latter era, Kenyans were griped by a palpable fear of secret police, disappearances, detentions, dungeons, Nyayo torture chambers, persecution of individuals and their family and so forth. This type of fear, I am happy to report, has been largely neutralized by the current regime of President Kibaki.

However, the fear that currently grips citizens of this country is the fear that the government continues to do stupid things and endangers the two public goods most valued by the citizenry: law and order, and the improvement of the economy that benefits all.
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