One of the sights that always fascinated me many years ago was of a man walking down Aga Khan Walk in Nairobi with a huge signboard that stated judges were bought. He was offering himself as an arbitrator to any legal disputes as he would be fair in his rulings. I always wondered if this fellow was a serious person as he was always in very run-down suits while the people I know in the legal profession were well known for sharp dressing.
I didn't think much of this fellow until the last week when the news started giving a very scary picture of the people in the legal profession – allegedly some in the higher echelons of the legal profession. I’m talking about judges here of course, stand accused of seeking bribes to influence cases in favour of one of the parties standing before them.
In a nutshell, the old world of “judges for sale” that we all thought had come to an end with the surgery in the judiciary seemed to have quietly returned, if the allegations are to be believed.
With the death of the perception of judge as the holders of justice, then other holders of justice have to be seen as under threat from the system. For instance, woe betide you parent of more than one child when your beloved children get into an argument over what they always will be in disagreement. Let’s say that one comes to you crying that they were hit by their sister or brother. With judges showing the way, the parents will still listen to the two sides of the story while nodding with looks of Solomonic wisdom. The parents will offer to give the judgement on the next day after deliberation with the appropriate sanctions.
The guilty child being a student of the way we live as a country will quietly approach the live-in house help with an offer of goodies that will be shared by the easily corruptible parent if they help them get off their charge. Once they receive either the pledge or the contribution from the help, the approached judge will tell him or her:“Sasa utajua sisi ndio wale.” (Now you will know we are the ones).
Come judgement time, you will hear the parental court pronouncing judgement on the hitter and he or she that was hit. The case will be a shocker as the verdict is that the child who was hit turns out to have been the one who hit his or her brother or sister, and the hitter becomes the one who got assaulted.
Of course the 'attacker' will now face the full force of the law depending on the set ones in the home he or she lives in. Some will have to do chores, some will be thrashed, and others will be denied things like time on gadgets. The long and short of it is that this will lead to a breakdown in the home justice system leaving consequences for children as they get to be adults.
This will go on when kids go to school to learn with the predatory kids having learnt to navigate through life without the fear of any repercussions for their actions. As adults they will now be prepared for the life we now live in as they have the appropriate tools to navigate this life.
For one, they will win their interviews because they will already have quietly spoken to influential people on the panels that reviewed them. They will then quickly move up in the career ladder with no concern about anyone around them who they will quickly refer to as “haters”.
This is how eventually these kids will be seen on TV after driving a state-of-the art SUV through law-abiding Kenyans while drunk. On examining if their car was 'injured' they will quickly state: “Nimeumia and gari imeumia, sote tumeumia.” (I was hurt and my car was hurt, we were both hurt) before driving off.
This is where we are headed to as Nairobians with the new justice environment. Wait, aren’t we there already? In that case, the Aga Khan Walk man needs to brush off his sign and come back to work.