In Summary
  • Dr Mutunga. He wanted Kenya’s Judiciary to look more Kenyan than British.
  • The Judiciary should rethink about abandoning the changes Dr Mutunga chaperoned for the emancipation of the Kenyan Judiciary from its colonial past.

When the former Chief Justice and president of the Supreme Court of Kenya, Dr Willy Munyoki Mutunga, took the helm of the Judiciary, he ushered in many emancipatory and revolutionary changes.

The revolutionary changes were meant to deconstruct and free the arm of government from the fangs, talons and yoke of ‘colonialism’.

For instance, he deconstructed the judicial dress code by dropping the white sisal wigs and red robes many lawyers wore while attending court proceedings as it was required by colonial laws and practices.

Historically, African judiciaries were made to believe that such colonial odds and ends were important in delivering justice.

The fact of the matter is, European colonisers intended to abuse, alter and demonise Africans’ identity and symbols by imposing white wigs so that we could look the way they wanted us to look like but not who we actually are.

So, too, colonialists wanted — and of course, succeeded — to kill our self-assurance and amour-propre (self-respect).

Again, although wigs have their roots in ancient Egypt, did African judiciaries choose them based on gen and understanding?

Whatever motif and motive behind the wigs in colonial courts, they can’t serve the same purpose in free countries such as ours — well, if, indeed, they are free and want to be free.

Mani Cavalieri, a database analyst, said Whites depicted and viewed black people “as being literally sub-human, mentally retarded, cowardly, incompetent, and often crazed” who can’t invent anything.

Dr Mutunga deconstructed such archaic predisposition.

Sadly, some of the changes Dr Mutunga introduced and implemented are being clear-felled pointlessly.

During the hearing of the recent presidential petition, I bewilderingly and melancholically saw some ‘learned friends’ in wigs and robes.

Honestly, I wonder when I see a lawyer in the hot streets of Dar es Salaam or Mombasa torturing himself in suits simply because it is the “dress code”.

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