Monday, 13 July 2015

IS KENYA CHANGING?: Righting a wrong 28 years in the making…

“Kenya is changing…” said the balding Inspector of Police almost unbelievingly as he sat in the passenger’s seat of the Toyota saloon car emblazoned on the sides with the Rocky Driving School sign. “Kenya is changing,” he repeated as if desperate to hold onto that ephemeral truth, to force himself to believe it was actually the case, but also seeming to grasp at a flickering hope suddenly rekindled, almost like Old Simeon praying “Lord, let now thy servant depart in peace,” as he beheld the infant Jesus on the day of his dedication in the Temple.

It was Thursday, 2nd July 2015. The Inspector was the road testing officer at the Machakos Motor Driving Testing Unit in Athi River. I was the Learner-Driver taking the test as the last stage of my journey to obtaining a drivers licence. I was one of the 41 learner-drivers from Rocky Driving School who had been transported on the back of a lorry from the Rocky office in Athi River to the Athi River Police Station to take the test.

The average age of those taking the test with me was around 21 years. I was by far the oldest. And so when I had gotten behind the wheel, and given that my driving betrayed the fact that I was an experienced driver, the Inspector had immediately asked me why I was taking the test at this time. “Ama ulikuwa umechukuwa ya magendo (Or you had obtained your licence through corruption)”, he had asked with a chuckle, thinking it was a joke. Only, it wasn’t. And I told him as much.

I narrated to him how 28 years ago, when I was only 20 years old, I had sat a driving test very similar to this one but had also paid a bribe of KSh. 600 to obtain the licence. How in April this year, following the massacre of 147 University students in Garissa by Al Shabaab gunmen who claimed that they were using guns issued by the Kenyan government to murder our children, my conscience had been so stricken that  I had decided to take responsibility for my own part in the corruption that is eating away at the soul of our nation and had returned the licence to the National Transportation Safety Authority and had recorded a statement at the EACC and the DPP’s office admitting to my crime. How I had then enrolled at Rocky Driving School for a driving course and had registered to take the test. And how, finally, the day had arrived and early that morning, I had done what I had been doing for the last two months. I had called a bodaboda and riden to the Rocky office as instructed for the ride with my fellow learners on the back of the lorry to the police station.

“Kenya is changing…” repeated the Inspector a third time, still perusing the copies of my letter to NTSA attaching my old licence and the affidavits I had sworn at the EACC and the DPP’s Office that I had handed to him. “Today’s headline in The Nation speaks about the new governor of the Central Bank rejecting a house in Muthaiga and three state-of-the art vehicles” he said in awe, “And now this? Kenya is changing…”

It had been a long two month journey to Athi River for me. Two months of not being able to drive myself as I was not licenced to drive pending my driving test. Two months during which I had come to realize just how valuable that document (the driver's licence) was - if you can ignore for the moment the terrible inconvenience we all suffer as we are forced to sit in endless traffic jams in this city. I had held my previous licence for 28 years and had come to take the comforts and discomforts of having a car for granted.

During those two months, I had commuted mostly by public transport and it had been a humbling experience. From squeezing in matatus to having to connect over four times to get to where I happened to be going – for example from home to the main road on a bodaboda, from the main road to the train station on a matatu, from Syokimau to Nairobi by train, from the Railway Station to Commercial on foot, from Commercial to ABC place by matatu, from the James Gichuru/Waiyaki Way junction by another Matatu, and from Muthangari Police station to the office on foot. And then back again.

A number of times it had started to rain as I made my way to the office or back home. At other times it got so hot, that I had arrived at a particular appointment sweating and with dusty shoes (and you get very self-conscious of this because Kenyans have a habit of looking you up and down from head to toe to quickly size you up and decide whether you are worth their time, and if they see you carrying a book, a newspaper or an umbrella, that is confirmation that they should not pay you too much attention if at all since you clearly did not come to their office driving.)

It had also been a learning experience. When you have your own car, you tend to forget quickly how it was using public transport. You are used to your own space - listening to the radio station of your choice or your own CDs, having private conversations with your spouse, air-conditioning when necessary. But when using public transport, you quickly (re)-learn to share space with strangers, to have your ear drums shuttered by music not of your choice and your sensibilities violated by Maina Kageni and Mwalimu King’ang’i as they bombard you with whatever profanities that happen to strike their fancy on that particular morning.

But also, you do get pleasantly surprised every once in a while to find a sensible matatu driver who plays good music at an agreeable volume and you get to observe Kenyans going about their business with much resilience and dignity. And not just those sharing the transport with you, but everywhere as you walk in the city to connect while indulging your taste buds with roasted maize bought by the roadside. You also learn to slow down. You can afford to walk more slowly and stop to browse second-hand books on the street as you walk through town to the Railway Station to board the train.

And you have time to think, to reflect. And as I've reflected over those two months, it has become very clear to me why we have been unable to solve our multiple problems as a society, especially the challenges of rapid urbanization. The main reason is the fact that we have been schooled to think that 'making it' means not having to use public services and escaping to our private space. So the first thing that a successful professional does, or the middle class business person longs for, is to buy their own vehicle, instead of thinking how public transport might best be improved and made safer and more reliable for all. It is the same for health services, education and so on. Most of us aspire, 'when we grow up', to be like the politicians we disdain in public but seem to admire in private. Few people are left to think about how to improve public transport because we don't use it anyway, or would rather not be using it. And so we all rush to own private cars, never mind the utter madness of having to be on the road for two to three hours a day or the whole night whenever it rains.

So, is Kenya really changing?

By the time I was standing in line outside an office at the police station waiting for my licence to be processed after passing my test, word had gone round among the police officers about why I was re-taking the test after being on the road for 28 years. A police officer who had earlier taken me through the theory test temporarily abandoned his post to come and scold the young people standing in line with me asking them why they could not have the courtesy to let their elder be served first. Inside the office, the policewoman responsible for entering my data into the NTSA database had already decided that I must be a pastor and could only look at me and plead, “Pastor, tuombee na sisi tuokoke (Pastor, please pray for us that we might also find salvation).”

Given that throughout this whole process there was no hint from any of the officers I interacted with that they expected a bribe, my conclusion was that Kenya was not only changing, but it still had many people struggling to do the right thing but who feel overwhelmed and trapped by a system that tends too often to reward those who choose to do the easy wrong rather than the hard right. 

But we must not give up. We must continue to fight the good fight believing, even though not always seeing, that as in the time of Elijah, “There are seven thousand whose knees have not bowed down to Baal.”

We shall overcome.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

‘SORRY’ JUST ISN’T ENOUGH: One Kenyan Parent's Farewell Letter to Garissa University College Students

29 April 2015

Our Dear Children,

This coming Saturday, the 2nd of May 2015 will mark one month since the sound of gunfire broke through the silence of dawn on your campus in Garissa. The approaching sound of death found some of you in morning prayer, others having woken up early to read for exams, but most of you just sound asleep. And before you knew what was happening, you came to the realization that your final hour had come. Your young lives were cruelly cut short to join a growing list of other Kenyans who have met a similar fate.

The first duty parents owe to their children is to protect them. In Garissa, we the parents of Kenya collectively and monumentally failed you, our dear children. Our hearts break when we recall how you waited in vain for us to come to your rescue, how you made anguished calls appealing for help, how you wrote terrified text messages wondering when we would come to shield and to protect you. But we did not come. Now we want to say with every fibre of our tormented souls how deeply sorry we are, but ‘Sorry’ Just Isn’t Enough!

The cold blooded murder of 147 students in their prime is a shocking event by any definition. It should be sufficient to make any country stop in its tracks and take a long hard look at itself in order to figure out what has gone so wrong as to result in such a senseless slaughter of its hope for the future. But in Kenya we paused just long enough to mourn you for three days, donate some money to your poor parents and give them a coffin each to take your remains on their final journey home. This was our way of saying ‘sorry’. But ‘Sorry’ Just Isn’t Enough!

The President ordered the recruitment of more police officers. He called on us to stop radicalizing our youth. He even wrote each of your parents a personal letter of condolences. This was the President’s way of saying ‘sorry’. But ‘Sorry’ Just Isn’t Enough!

Our government made the usual promises to improve security. It suspended a few middle-level security officers in Garissa. It ordered the shutting down of a refugee camp. It started building a wall to keep friends in and enemies out. This was the Government’s way of saying ‘sorry’. But ‘Sorry’ Just Isn’t Enough!

The opposition also weighed in. It criticised the Government for its failure to secure the country. It launched its own initiative to Okoa Kenya. This was the opposition’s way of saying ‘sorry’. But ‘Sorry’ Just Isn’t Enough!

Civil society issued passionate statements. It condemned terror and asked the government to do more to make Kenya safe. It held vigils and organized concerts. It erected crosses and lit candles in your memory. It reminded the world that #147IsNotJustANumber. This was Civil Society’s way of saying ‘sorry’. But ‘Sorry’ Just Isn’t Enough!

Kenya is a country of forgetting and moving on. And so, less than a month since our monumental failure to protect you, we have moved on without demanding answers to the difficult questions that arose out of this tragedy. Why did it take those sent to rescue you eleven hours to reach the killing field that had become your campus on that Holy Thursday? Why was a battalion of the Kenya Defence Forces that is located just minutes away from your campus content to surround it for 11 hours and not intervene as you were being systematically slaughtered within? Why was a police plane that should have been bringing help your way instead giving free rides to civilian relatives of the Air Wing commandant as they returned from holiday in Mombasa? These are uncomfortable and troubling questions to ask. But we have not asked them, or we have failed to ask them loudly enough, to articulate on your behalf what you went to your graves wondering.

Perhaps the reason why we are so quick to move on is the fact that deep down in our hearts, we know that although Al Shabaab may have pulled the triggers of the guns that abruptly ended your lives, it is not really Al Shabaab that killed you. It is us. Yes, we all have blood on our hands. For we can all still recall the eerie testimony of one of your colleagues who survived the attack. She recounted how the killers taunted you, telling you that the weapons being used to end your young lives were Kenya Government-Issued guns that had somehow ended up in the hands of the killers. “We are killing you with guns and bullets your money has been used to buy,” were some of the last words that echoed in your ears as you left this world into the next.

Over the past month, I have remembered daily the immediate aftermath of the tragedy that claimed your young lives as if reliving a nightmare. Between the echoes of heart-wrenching screams of your anguished parents as they collected your mutilated bodies from Chiromo and the eerie candles and crosses at Freedom Corner; between angry statements by politicians and dry analyses by security experts; between heartfelt poems and soulful music by artists singing to honour your memory, one vivid image stands etched indelibly in my mind. That of a lone man holding a simple banner at the vigil at Freedom Corner that simply stated: ‘Corruption Killed Them.’

In such times of national introspection and despair, there is a cliché that so easily rolls off the tongues of self-righteous politicians and pseudo-intellectual pundits: ‘Where did the rain start beating us?’ There is also much blame shifting and finger pointing. Nor am I innocent of this. I too share a part in this exercise of national obfuscation. But we have played this game for far too long. Corruption has been eating away at the soul of our nation for decades and we have either taken part in the eating or looked the other way. However, when a dragon starts to devour a society’s children, it is time for the game to stop. It is time to go to war.

But how does one go to war without an army? I, for one, do not command the Kenya Defence Forces, or I would have asked them why they chose to watch you die. I do appoint the Cabinet or the Inspector General of Police, or I would have sought answers on your behalf. I have no control over the National Intelligence Service, or I would have demanded to know how our guns ended up being used against you, our children. I have no power over Col. Rogers Mbithi, the Commandant of the Police Air Wing, or I would have immediately sent him home and ordered a full investigation into his blatant abuse of power and national resources.

But go to war I must. And I must begin by commanding the only army that I have at my disposal. The army of One. The army of myself. I hope other Kenyans of conscience will join me in the ranks of this army of ordinary people who have simply had enough. But even if they do not, I will march alone.

While many may be asking ‘Where did the rain start beating us?’ I think that is the wrong question to ask when it comes to slaying the dragon of corruption. Rather, the right question to ask is this: How did I contribute in failing to prevent the rain from starting to beat us in the first place; or what part did I play in allowing the droplets of rain to become a trickle and then a stream and then a flood that is ravaging our country and destroying our future? What part did I play in turning our homeland of Kenya from being a Heritage of Splendour into becoming a Den of Thieves?

And this brings me to my own moment of truth, the time for my own confession.

For you see, dear children, I too have your blood on my hands. For although I have tried to live a law-abiding life, I recall vividly one shame-filled week in early 1987, when I was about your age. I needed to obtain a driver’s licence. The driving instructor informed me that I could not expect to get a licence without giving a bribe of Ksh. 600. He told me that if I did not give the bribe, I would be failed more than six times, no matter how well I did in the test, and thereby I would end up paying more in the long run plus my wasted time than if I simply paid the bribe up front.  I struggled and I agonized, but finally I relented. I borrowed the money from my sister, paid the bribe and I got my licence. I have used that licence for the last 28 years. I have never caused an accident, but that does not change the fact that I have been driving illegally on our roads for the last 28 years. That is my own contribution to the rain that started beating us and the flood that ultimately cost you your lives. I would like to say just how deeply sorry I am, but ‘Sorry’ Just Isn’t Enough!

And so in honour of your memory, I shall do the second best thing.

On the first month anniversary of your tragic deaths, I shall return the illegal driver’s licence that I have been using for the last 28 years to the National Transport and Safety Authority, I shall then go to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and report my own crime, prepared to face the full consequences of the law. I shall then apply for a new driver’s licence and take the driving test with the hope of passing and correcting a wrong that ultimately contributed to the decay that cost you your lives.

Your deaths are a loss to Kenya on so many levels. Not only were you so young and so the embodiment of our future, but you had defied the demon of tribalism and travelled far from home in pursuit of your dreams and our collective hope of building one country out of many nations and one faith out of many religions. Kenya is so much the poorer without you.

Although we are all guilty for this loss, ultimately, we each have to find our own way to deal with our individual and collective guilt. As for me, I pray that I will do right by you by ensuring that you did not die in vain. That your innocent blood that flowed in that prayer room and in that class room and in that hostel at the beginning of the Easter Weekend will begin to water a newly planted tree of righteousness that will define our new character as a nation and that will strengthen our values as a people.

Fare thee well, dear children. You died as the first martyrs of the real war against corruption. It is now up to us to carry on the battle and win this war upon whose outcome depends our survival as a nation. The stakes have never been higher. May we be found worthy.

For and on behalf of the parents of Kenya,
Yours sincerely,

Njonjo Mue


147 innocent children died in Garissa on 2nd April 2015. They are the Garissa Martyrs. I am looking for 146 adults who are willing to come forward and join me in confessing to using corruption to obtain goods or services, or to evade the provisions of the law or to obtain any other undue advantage. They will return the benefits so corruptly obtained and go through the legal process of obtaining what the law entitles them to.

In honour of the Garissa Martyrs, I pray that we shall reach the 147 mark by the second month of the anniversary of their death on 2nd June. Each recruit will receive his or her own number to stand for and walk on behalf of one of each of the Garissa Martyrs. This will be the first battalion of the army of ordinary people against corruption. Will you be among the number? Please email me on to register. 

Tuesday, 31 March 2015


[A note to Katindi from New York, 28 March 2015]

Absence, they say, 
Makes the heart grow fonder. 
But whoever 'they' are, 
They clearly don't know 
What they are talking about. 
For absence also
Makes the heart ache
As one beholds
Beautiful sights and sounds
And realises that 
Their beauty is incomplete 
Because one's beloved
Is not present 
To partake of it
And so one looks 
Past the attractions
And the adventures, 
So longing for home, 
So missing the love of his life. 
Wish you were here, Katindi Sivi Njonjo

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

HAPPILY EVER AFTER... With Katindi Sivi Njonjo

We met inauspiciously
Became friends unhurriedly
Grew fond of one another genuinely
Enjoyed each other's company profoundly
We laughed, often uncontrollably
And slowly but surely
We fell in love unconditionally
And got married joyfully
Now we enjoy life gratefully
And because I love you completely
I look forward to living gleefully
With you... ever after, happily.

Monday, 9 March 2015


Friends, it is my humble pleasure to welcome you to join PURE - People United for Responsible Entertainment.
It has been 72 hours since Maina Kageni's show on Classic FM on Friday morning brought us together in a spirit of collective concern as to the content and timing of his show, especially the inappropriate and sexually explicit content of his call-in segments.
During that time, all of you have expressed feelings ranging from embarrassment through dismay to outrage about the flagrant violation of broadcasting standards with regard to content that is explicit and offensive on Maina's morning show.
Some people have said that they do not tune in to Maina's show and have counseled the rest of us to simply exercise the same right of choice and migrate to other stations. Clearly, those of this school of thought are people who do have the privilege of exercising choice in the comfort and privacy of their cars. But there are many more Kenyans - school children and old women, working men and college students - who use public transport to commute to school and work who do not have that choice. It is for them that we must speak up.
What's more, school holidays will be here soon, and many of our house helps tune in to this station when parents are not at home and have no control over the content that their children get exposed to. For this reason, the need to reclaim our airwaves remains urgent and important.
For the avoidance of doubt, let me state clearly two things that this campaign is NOT about:
1. This campaign is not about dictating to Kenyans about what they can or cannot listen to. Kenyan adults have the right to determine for themselves what content to listen to in accordance with their freedom of conscience and the freedom of expression that are enshrined in our Constitution.
However, the same Constitution provides in Article 24 that fundamental rights may be limited "to the extent that the limitation is reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom."
With regard to freedom of broadcasting, such limitation is allowable through regulation as to time, manner and form of broadcasting content, aimed at protecting vulnerable audiences such as children. The campaign is therefore aimed at ensuring that if Maina, Classic FM or any other station want to air explicit content, such content is aired only after the watershed hour after children have gone to bed.
2. This campaign is not personal and not merely targeting individuals like Maina Kageni. He just happens to be a representation of an emerging culture among certain broadcasters who seem to think that the airwaves are their private property to do as they deem fit with them, including trashing values that we cherish as Kenyans.
On the contrary, the airwaves are a public resource and those privileged to use them for broadcasting must do so in a manner consistent with the public good. While we cannot purport to dictate to other Kenyans as regarding their personal tastes in entertainment, we do have a right and a responsibility to demand that those who use our airwaves do so responsibly.
Hence the urgent need for People United for Responsible Entertainment - PURE.
So, where do we go from here?
We shall work within the law and engage the media houses and the institutions that have been established as custodians of the public interest, notably the Media Council of Kenya, the Communication Authority, and, if necessary, parliament and the courts.
We shall begin small - doing our best with what we have where we are. And in doing so - working consistently, stone by stone, brick by brick - we shall rebuild the ancient ruins and we will raise up the age-old foundations, in the abiding hope that because we did our part in standing firm together to defend it, our homeland of Kenya will once again become a heritage of splendour.
Here is the initial post:


I am sitting at a Nairobi restaurant doing some work this morning, the 6th of March, and Maina Kageni is on Classic FM presenting his morning show. The topic of discussion is based on this man who has called in admitting quite graphically how he lets his wife sleep with a mzungu for money, going so far as to say that he lets them 'do it in the bedroom "nikiwasikiliza wakiguruma" from the living room. A recording of the caller saying this has been played over and over again and there have been other callers, some supporting others opposing the guy who thus peddles his wife.
I am a supporter of free speech, but I also a believe in upholding certain moral standards, especially in public discourse, and more particularly, in programmes that are aired at times of great and diverse listenership. Maina has made a career of having call-in discussions on his morning show that should only be aired after midnight if at all, and the State seems to have no interest in enforcing certain regulatory standards. Kenyans have complained but seem to be resigned to helplessly grin and bear it.
But we are not helpless. We can stand up to Maina and tell him that our society is not a free for all and we have certain moral standards that we stand for and are willing to defend. We can vote with our feet because Classic FM is kept on air through advertising of products that we consume. If we tell the manufacturers and marketers of those products that we shall boycott them until Maina and Classic FM change their ways, they shall change.
We must move from agonizing to organizing.
The first step, though, is to gauge how many of us are concerned about this issue. Once we get a critical mass, we shall do the necessary research so that our advocacy is evidence based, as well as ascertaining which advertisers keep Classic FM on air so that we can know our leverage. After that, we will take precipitate action to demand the change that we seek and vote with our feet if we are not listened to.
But the very first step is to take a straw poll right here. If you share my concerns about the content and timing of Maina Kageni's show, please indicate in the comments section below and where possible, give an example of content that you have found offensive or disturbing on Classic FM. 
Let us take a stand to clean up our airwaves.

Thursday, 5 March 2015


Genesis 18 records an interesting conversation between God and Abraham. God is about to destroy the City of Sodom due to its wickedness and Abraham pleads with Him not to destroy the city for the sake of the righteous who live there.

“Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?" he asks God, "What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it?" God answers that He would spare the city for fifty righteous.

Abraham continues to haggle with God beseeching Him not to destroy the city for the sake of 45, then 40, then 30, then 20, then 10.

Genesis 18:32-33 marks the turning point in this conversation. - Then Abraham said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?” The Lord answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”

When the Lord had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home. And then the city was destroyed.

Why did the Lord stop at 10 while he had been so accommodating to His friend Abraham's repeated entreaties on behalf of Sodom? We do know that Sodom had at least one righteous family, that of Abraham's nephew, Lot. Would not the Lord have spared the city for their sake? I think He would. But the Lord stopped at 10 because that is where Abraham stopped. And because Abraham stopped, the city was destroyed.

Our city, our country and our society are where they are today because that is where you and I have stopped. People are dying of curable diseases as money earmarked for healthcare is diverted into politicians private pockets because we stopped; young people are being destroyed by drugs in our neighbourhoods because we stopped; our sisters are raped in the streets and our children are molested in the homes because we stopped; corruption is eroding the very fabric that covers our moral nakedness and tribalism is destroying the nationhood we have painstakingly build for half a century because we stopped.

We stopped pleading with God on behalf of our city, our country and our society. And just as we do not know the exact reason why Abraham stopped at 10, we are also not always very clear why we have chosen to stop where we have stopped.

Perhaps we just got tired of interceding on behalf of an ungrateful people and a thankless nation. Perhaps we stopped because we ourselves felt safe in our gated compounds and our air-conditioned offices far from the cluttered chaos and sinful smells of Sodom; Perhaps we stopped because our private health insurance, our private security guards, our access to private groups of schools for our children and the easy reach we have to a host of other services that our money can buy have shielded us from the decay and immunized us against the daily suffering that surrounds us. And perhaps we have stopped because our faith in God has ceased to be as strong as it once was and instead of looking up to Him as the God of the impossible that we first met, we now superimpose our own limitations upon Him and dare not trust Him to save the city even for the sake of one.

And so our city, our country and our society face imminent destruction on our watch.

But it is not too late to humble ourselves on behalf of our brethren and dare to ask Him who is all knowing and all merciful: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?"

But we must not stop at asking. We must then rise up and be the answer to the question we ask. We must become God's hands and feet in rebuilding the land of our birth and the place of our habitation so that our homeland of Kenya may once again become a heritage of splendor and the glory of Kenya, the fruit our our labour, may once again fill every heart with thanksgiving.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015


18 – 20 FEBRUARY 2015

Hon. Chief Justice, Hon. Justice Ngugi, Director of the Judiciary Training Institute; our partners and co-convenors of this workshop, Equality Now and Katiba Institute; Hon. Judges and Magistrates; ladies and gentlemen.

It gives me great pleasure, on behalf of ICJ – Kenya, to welcome you to this discourse.
ICJ Kenya is a membership organization established in 1959 whose mission is to promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Africa through the application of legal expertise and international best practices. ICJ has had a long history of supporting judicial reforms and considers the judiciary a key ally in realizing human rights, democracy and the rule of law. ICJ Kenya, as a partner to the Judiciary, offers technical expertise and is always independent and impartial in its work.

Sometimes the work of organizations such as the ICJ is not well understood, and its views may not always be accepted especially where they are critical. However, it is important to state that the work is carried out with the objective of improving the judiciary and ensuring access to justice for the public.

ICJ Kenya recognizes the unique role that judicial officers play not only as duty bearers; leaders; interpreters of treaties and legislation; but also as champions of human rights and the rule of law.

This partnership with JTI, Equality Now and Katiba Institute seeks to contribute towards the effective implementation of the Maputo Protocol through engagement with East African Judiciaries. As the EAC countries move towards integration, peer will learning such as these will be important especially given the situation in partner states e.g. Tanzania which is developing a new constitution, or South Sudan which still has a fairly young judiciary.

The Maputo protocol which entered into force in 2005 is a statement of the commitment of African states to the protection of the rights of African women. In fact it is a demonstration that indeed Africa can come up with genuine African solutions to African problems. However, African women still face challenges in the realization of their rights. These include gross violations such as harmful traditional practices such as FGM, domestic violence, disinheritance and lack of access to land, and other forms of discrimination.

It is worth noting that whereas courts through their judgments are important, they are only one part of the solution. As the 2/3 case in Kenya has demonstrated, court orders can be disobeyed or not implemented in good faith. Therefore, it is important for courts to strike a balance between judicial activism and judicial restraint with regard to issues of public interest.  When necessary, judicial officers should also use their power to convene parties to resolve issues and guard against locking society with decisions which have the potential of leaving the public without any further means of recourse.

Courts should also use judicial power in such cases to require parties such as government institutions to report on progress made in the implementation of their orders, to ensure that the rule of law is respected.

It is our hope that initiatives such as these can be encouraged across the continent, and that ultimately we shall increase the understanding of women’s rights and the Protocol across Africa.

As someone who has been involved in the struggle for constitutional reform in Kenya, I know that change does not come easily. The women’s movement also needs to realise that these issues will not be resolved without a struggle and the involvement of all women who must be at the forefront of the fight for their rights. Women must therefore continue to organize, mobilize and advocate strongly if there is to be lasting change.

But it is also critical that women do not leave the men behind in this struggle for equality. Men must be made to understand that by compressing the feet of their daughters, they are thereby also retarding the steps of their sons. It will take an upright manhood and an enlightened womanhood working together to fight and win the critical battles that lie ahead. For we cannot enter our Land of Promise half-fettered and half-free.

I thank you.