“Revisiting” Kenya’s Judiciary.  

The close of last year (2019) saw the Judiciary revolt against what it termed as ‘control by the executive’ due to budgetary cuts from treasury. Chief Justice David Maraga lashed out at the executive and the current finance Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani and sought answers as to why the judiciary was the main target of huge budget cuts. In his press conference, Maraga explained how budget cuts were affecting the judiciary’s ability to reduce the number of unresolved cases that lie in files.  

Is the judiciary under-funded or is it failing in its mandate and finding excuses to distort the reality?  

There is no global standard for funding the justice system, the UN only recommends that member states provide adequate funds to the judiciary, how much, is a political decision. 

The Kenyan Judiciary presented a budgetary request of KES 31.2 billion in the 2019/2020 financial year. This budgetary request was first drastically reduced to KES 17.4 billion, and later suffered a further reduction to KES 14.5 billion, an over 50% deficit cut. In the previous financial year, the Judiciary received only 40% of its budgetary requirement with a resultant effect that it is unable to sufficiently fulfil its core constitutional mandate of delivering justice to Kenyans. This trend is consistent with previous budgetary cuts in the last five years. 

The 50% reduction in development funding to the Judiciary equates to suspension of over 100 court construction and rehabilitation works that are at various stages of progress which are meant to improve physical access to courts and reduce the distance travelled in search of justice. 

Is there a correlation between funding the judiciary and delivery of justice?  

According to Prof Luis Franceschi, founding dean of Strathmore Law School, “Reducing the financial resources available to a judiciary may indeed threaten judicial independence and create a more subservient judge, but it also hampers the entire institution’s effectiveness. It reduces its adjudicatory capacity by lessening its accessibility. 

Defunct tribunals, the abolition of mobile courts, less efficient judicial systems, and reduced personnel are among other consequences of reduced funding of the judiciary. 

This article does not assume that efficient funding of the judiciary will miraculously heal the institution of its bad manners, for instance, the ministry of devolution has so far had two major scandals, NYS I and NYS II- but no case has been fully mentioned and no key suspect has been arrested in relation to the same. Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Gitonga Riungu in 2017 said that Ksh. 11 billion may have been lost in the case. But why have the cases taken too long to be exhaustively prosecuted? There have been cases that have been completed at a faster rate. Unfortunately, most of those cases have been around low-profile citizens. 

The public has been treated to a war of words between the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the office of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, the former accusing the later of shoddy investigations which cannot stand trial. The judiciary has also accused the ODPP of not arguing its cases effectively and sending inexperienced lawyers to court. All this time, many judges have been accused of corruption, most recently through confessions of the Akasha brothers who have been jailed in the USA for dealing in narcotics.  

Additionally, there is a distinct lack of adequate training for probation officers to build competencies to address emerging demands from criminal activities and to adapt modern evidence-based supervision and rehabilitation programs. The number of probation officers is not adequate to meet the demands of magistrates and high courts in the country.  

Improving the performance of our justice system is a complex and long-term issue which goes beyond budgetary improvements. Funding will undoubtedly help us deal with the backlog of cases in our courts. However, injecting money to the courts will have to be augmented with an ethics and integrity check among the judges and court officers. 

 

Get one thing anchors you, No matter how old you are

(Written on the night of 26th February 2020 )

It’s raining tonight, a sign of blessings as we start the Lenten period.

Earlier today, I realized that I was not going make it home in time for Mass along Thika Road where I live and decided to instead wait for the evening one at St. Paul’s Chapel, University of Nairobi, and what a beautiful choice that was in the end!

The last time I was at St. Paul’s was in 1994 when we held a memorial service for my late father, and prior to that was 1990 for my Aunt and Uncle’s wedding where I made my debut into fame as a flower girl (I know, fame is a state of mind 😊, so it was nice to be back at the Chapel.)

What amazed me this time was the incredibly beautiful singing by the university students’ choir. So glorious, filled with the spirit, their voices rising, song after song with rigor, passion, harmony, oneness, zeal and soul! I was mesmerized. The men’s voices, Tenor and Bass, were particularly strong, reverberating through the chapel walls, windows, ceilings, and our very hearts.

We all know how many ‘interesting’ not-very-good things are happening with and to the youth but I’m here to tell you that they’re also in church and they are there happily, willingly, fully. What a reassurance.

The singing took me back to my high school days and I remembered how beautifully we sang at Precious Blood and how much we enjoyed belting out those tunes at Mass, sometimes nearly refusing to end a song if it was just too good, much to the semi-amused chagrin of our teachers and the Sisters.

Oh my, St. Paul’s! The church was full. This was the other thing that made me so happy. Wednesday evening, Ash Wednesday, no less, but yes, a packed church on a weekday. Several congregants were not students, but majority were. How wonderful to see that the youth are going to church, giving their talent, serving and practicing their faith. I was transported back to my own university days and how much my faith anchored me, how I found family in Newman Catholic Students Association where I served and shared faith so similar and so familiar even in the far away land of Wellesley, Massachusetts; far away from Nairobi, that is. We all know how many ‘interesting’ not-very-good things are happening with and to the youth but I’m here to tell you that they’re also in church and they are there happily, willingly, fully. What a reassurance.

Once Mass ended, I sat on the pew transfixed, unable to leave until their conductor signaled for them to finish the last song. As I thought about the message that the priest had shared in the sermon, “Tear your hearts, not your garments,” I figured, ‘Wow, what a powerful clarion call.’ A reminder that we should take this time to focus on our inside and not the external, to seek not praise or earthly reward but our renewal, repentance and rebirth. I reflected on the singing and praying that I had done through high school and college and beyond and felt grateful that I had had a chance to find such refuge, direction and comfort in my youth. It is so good when you have that one thing  that is greater than you; that anchors you and at the same time lifts you, no matter where you are or how old you are. And what a treasure when you find it in your youth! May our hearts indeed be full, open, and ready for tearing.

May we have a Blessed and meaningful Lenten season, beloved. As for the students at St. Paul’s Chapel, please keep singing.

Submitted by:
Elishibah Msengeti Poriot
Manager, Leadership Development and Mentorship 

5 Tips You Need for Successful Personal Development

Sometimes, I wonder why some of us go through life without a plan. Would you have a tailor do your outfit without a plan? Or a contractor build your house without a plan and figuring it out as they go on? I bet you wouldn’t. Why then do you then fumble in life without stopping to think on where you’re headed? You need to plan on where you want to be clearly and make deliberate decisions on the direction you want to follow. The journey to personal development begins with self-awareness. Self-awareness is the ability to understand one’s thoughts, behaviors, motivations, weaknesses and reactions and everything else that makes us unique. You must actively seek to understand your strengths, weaknesses, emotions, motivations and your reactions to various situations. According to Maslow (1970), people have an inbuilt need for personal development which occurs through self-actualization.

For you to be successful you have to study what successful people do and apply it.

Life is competitive and unless we become tougher, we won’t be able to achieve anything.

  1. Set Goals

Personal development is interesting. Having a clear plan of where you want to be in future is part of personal development. It is easier to improve when you have a purpose of doing so.  Write down your goals in order of their importance and constantly review them.

  1. Assess Your Skills

You now have a clear vision of where you want to go but do you have the necessary means to take you there? First, you need to assess your skills to see whether they are in line with your dream. Constantly work on the skills you have to master the unique ones. Then list all the skills you should improve in order to realize your goals. Do whatever it takes to acquire the skills you are lacking.

  1. Discipline

After you have assessed your skills and acquired new ones, it’s now time to hit the road to your destination. Discipline is the ability of getting started regardless of your emotional state. Self-discipline is nothing but empowering your will and training the brain. After drawing your goals and acquiring the necessary skills, set a target and concentrate on it. It’s all about getting out of your comfort zone.

  1. Hard Work

Success doesn’t come on a silver platter, you must work hard. Personal development takes time and hard work. Understand how much work you need to put in in order to fully function. Employ a fixed schedule that you will commit to. Commitment has a positive effect on self-development.

  1. Be Unique

Often in life, we meet people who leave a very deep impression on us and make us admire everything about them. While it is in order to draw inspirations, avoid comparing yourself with them. Ask yourself who you need to be to become in order to be successful. Do what is in line with your vision and avoid the unnecessary pressure that comes from comparing yourself with others.

 

In a nutshell, personal development is a life time investment that seeks to improve your productivity and quality. When you put time and effort in developing yourself, the results are amazing. Personal development helps you manage yourself regardless of the situation you are in. Pick those tips and build on them. Life is competitive and unless we become tougher, we won’t be able to achieve anything.

 

Submitted By:

Shalom Musyoka, Cohort 8.

Susan Wavinya: Bringing Back Hope in her society

Being a mother at 17 was the turning point for Susan Wavinya Wairimu. She didn’t let her dreams and visions to be daunted. Susan, who is currently her cohort’s president decided to try a hand at ELF to see feed her curiosity on everything that goes on in the organization and understand herself in a better way.

“I remember applying for ELF in 2017, half-way though I gave up but found myself applying for the same 2 years later. My passion for leadership, mentorship and governance just couldn’t let me surrender on this chance.”

Susan decided to forward her name as a presidential candidate for her cohort, where she was the only lady contesting. “I didn’t think of myself winning, let me be honest. During the elections I was very impatient and pessimistic. Some of my fellows were raising my hopes of winning; I had to keep calm and wait for the moment.” The elections provided valuable lessons to Susan but one of the greatest lessons was strategy; coming up with good strategies is important not only when seeking votes but in life.

No one is answerable for your failure, if you have faith and purpose then God will surely see you through in what you desire to achieve.

Currently, Susan is a Human Resource Management student at Ngong Technical and vocational College and serves as the charter president of the student’s council at the same institution. Besides this, she formed an organization – House of Hope- that mentors, motivates and advocates for the rights of young mothers in Ngong Mathare slum, where she grew up. In November last year, Susan had her first mentorship session for young mothers in the area and she was able to reach 77 young mothers in the area, did a menstrual talk and distributed sanitary towels. She looks forward to hosting another session this month to celebrate women and gift them with clothing to appreciate their beauty and the efforts they put to raise their kids and sustain themselves.

“I believe that no woman should be discriminated or criticized for making the choice of being a mum at a tender age, what we have to do is give them a shoulder to lean on and allow them pursue their dreams. I am looking forward to having several activities that will help young women earn a living and get into leadership and have soft skills,” Susan

Further, she also leads in the mentorship of young girls who are in school.

“The training that I got at ELF and the sessions that we had also boosted my knowledge and helped improve how I carried out my duties.”

Despite all challenges encountered along the way, she desires to be an ambassador for the youths and young women at the UN or any other organization that will believe her dreams and welcome her to be part.

Susan is not ready to give up on her dreams, she believes that one must fight through all challenges that come along. “Many are the times when we give up on our dreams by complaining about lack of resources but my encouragement is keep pushing for it, if I am able to achieve and impact lives despite all that I go through, then pursue your purpose passionately and the resource and rewards will follow.”

“No one is answerable for your failure, if you have faith and purpose then God will surely see you through in what you desire to achieve.”

We celebrate Susan and her efforts in creating impact in her society.

My Turban and I

Today I wore a headwrap;
A colleague asks me,
Why are you wearing a headscarf,
And yet your hair is so neatly done?
Why are you covering it ?
Because I want to, I said.
Because I can.
Because wearing a headwrap,
Is fashion too.
It’s my Tuesday morning style, is that okay ?
It’s not about bad hair or good hair.
Where do we get these notions from ?
Can’t one just wrap her head ?
Ah, the life of a woman.
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
If I shave, I’m making a statement,
If I straighten, I’m making a statement,
If I leave it in Afro, I’m making a statement,
If I put it in dreads,
Or plait it in braids,
Or have it in corn rows, I’m making a statement.
Well, no, not always,
Sometimes, yes, sure,
But sometimes I do whatever it is because I can.
No need to make assumptions,
And don’t worry about it,
Or about me,
My head and I are okay,
My hair and I, we’re actually just fine.
And the red, it wasn’t to make a statement either.
Later I took it off,
To make a statement,
That I was now ready,
To take off my headwrap,
My headscarf,
My turban,
Because I could,
Because I wanted to.
That’s all.

#IWD2020

Submitted by:
Elishibah Msengeti Poriot
Manager, Leadership Development and Mentorship 

Dr. Njuguna: Seeing my mentees reach their highest potential is my joy.

Our mentor of the week is Dr. Christine Wambui Njuguna. She currently works as a lecturer at Kenyatta University in the Population, Reproductive Health and Community Resource Management department. Dr. Christine has a great interest in Youth and Development, Sustainable Livelihoods, Poverty and Gender Based Violence. In addition, she has managed to make several presentations and prepare research papers around the youth & sustainable livelihoods and health & social impact assessments.

I want to encourage people from various professions to join the mentorship journey as a way of giving back and starting a change revolution we so much need in the country through these mentees.

In her mentorship journey, Dr. Christine is driven by the desire to see the youth see who they are and how much they are needed and prides herself in seeing her mentees actualize and start to reach their highest potential by journeying with them. This is always a win for her.

“I want to encourage people from various professions to join the mentorship journey as a way of giving back and starting a change revolution we so much need in the country through these mentees,” Dr. Christine to potential mentors.

“My greatest achievement in life is being able to find my purpose in life and pursuing it. This has brought forth a lot of fulfillment.”

Her favorite quote; ‘Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better’ by Samuel Beckett.

Another chance at life, Thank You ELF

As I type this, I can gladly say that ELF saved my life. But how? You must be wondering. Well, let me tell you my story. Exactly one year ago, I had hit rock bottom. My hope was completely at zero and as each second passed, more and more suicidal thoughts crossed my mind. I had just lost a child through ectopic pregnancy and I was in a very dark space. It was even worse because my parents forbade me to talk about it.

Being an extrovert, I thought my parents would notice that something was wrong with me as I had become completely withdrawn which was unlike me. I was drowning in pain and everybody was moving on with their lives like nothing happened. I opted to slitting my wrist as a way of channeling the pain that was inside. One evening, the pain was overwhelming, and I couldn’t slit my wrist anymore because I already had too many bruises. For me, suicide was the only way out but to be honest, actualizing the thought is not as easy as it seems.

If anything, I felt relieved; I felt at home. I felt loved and I knew that ELF was now my second family. Here, I made friends for life and I knew that this was my second chance in life.

I lay on my bed with tear-filled eyes scrolling my phone with no agenda. My dad sent me a link to a YouTube video, and I thought to myself, “Let me watch this video first then I can think of a good way to commit suicide.”  As I think about it now, I can’t help but laugh. My dad knew how much I liked public speaking and he had sent me Caren Wakoli’s speech at St. Andrews Turi. As I watched the video, I couldn’t help but admire how well Caren articulated her speech and I got curious about this smart lady. Remember, at the back of my mind I wanted to complete watching this video and still think of a smooth way to end my existence. God works in miraculous ways.

After the speech, I decided to google and know more about Caren and that’s when I bumped into ELF. Little did I know that my focus was slowly changing from suicidal thoughts to curiosity about ELF and what it does. Amazingly, recruitment for cohort 8 was ongoing and I made my registration. At this point suicide was out mind since I had turned my focus to be part of ELF. Nonetheless, I still used to slit my wrist from time to time, as a way of coping. During the cohort 8 open day, is when I knew that I had really found a place to call home. Stella Cheboi was the first person I met and if you know and have interacted with her, you must agree that she gives the warmest welcomes. You know those deep welcomes that are hard to ignore, those that you’d think someone has known you for a while. I heard Jim India and Stella Nderitu speak and I couldn’t help but admire how well they picked their diction and articulation of words. It was impressive and at that moment, I concluded that I am in the right place.

As Sofina took us through the first session of life mapping and storytelling, I knew that I was in a safe space and that was the first time I shared my story with complete strangers and didn’t feel judged. If anything, I felt relieved; I felt at home. I felt loved and I knew that ELF was now my second family. Here, I made friends for life and I knew that this was my second chance in life.

Thank you, ELF. Keep impacting and changing lives because you never know how many more lives you will save.

Joyce Selim, 

ELF cohort 8 Fellow.