If Chief Justice Koome finally happens, make us proud

Wednesday, May 19th, 2021 00:00 |
Justices Martha Koome.

Patience Nyange 

Women are having a moment. From  US Vice President Kamala Harris to New Zealand Premier Jacinda Ardern, from long-serving German Chancellor Angela Merkel to newly minted Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu, the world has gotten a taste of what women leadership can do.

The UK has not only given us two female PMs, but all her ambassadors to G7 countries and other strategic embassies, including Nairobi, are women.

As always, Kenya refuses to be left behind. One of the three arms of government is to be led by a woman — Lady Chief Justice Martha Koome — who was vetted by a committee of Parliament last week and the report will be tabled today.

If approved by the House, President Uhuru Kenyatta will appoint her to the challenging and important job of Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court, becoming the first woman in our history in this role. 

Being the first of anything is a tremendous responsibility. It sets the standard and tone for those who follow.

George Washington, the first president of the US, established the two-term tradition by retiring voluntarily at the end of his second term.

For over 100 years, all presidents followed his example despite not being legally obligated to do so until Franklin D Roosevelt came along and died in office during his fourth term.

Only then did an alarmed US congress mandated two-term limits by law. 

Koome similarly has an excellent opportunity to define the next generation of women in jurisprudence by what she does as CJ.

She is likely well aware that Kenyans are watching not just to judge her as an individual but as a representative of women. 

It is a great chance to permanently cement the position of women in the hierarchy of power, not just in law but across the land and in the imagination of Kenyans.

As the highest-ranking female public official, the image of CJ Koome excelling in her role will no doubt inspire girls that they too can be CJ, President, Speaker of the House or CEO in the corporate world.

And one may argue that it will also teach boys to respect girls and women and produce a culture of meritocracy, where the gender does not unfairly skew leadership opportunities for or against you.

Koome is not alone though; she has examples of great women to draw courage from.

Lands CS Faridah Karoney is one such example. She may not be the most visible government leader out there, but she is arguably the most transformative.

After working diligently and quietly for several years, she has eliminated criminalism at the Lands ministry by digitising all land transactions through the #ArdhiSasa system. 

So, with Koome as CJ, Kenyans can have hope she too will transform the corruption-riddled and lethargic Judiciary as well. She has a lot on her plate. Will justice be automated?

Will judges be appointed and deployed in sufficient numbers? Will the backlog of 700,000 cases sagging our courts finally be a story of the past? 

If you want something done, give it to a woman. Karoney has given us #Viusasa and #Ardhisasa. Will Koome rise up and give us #Courtsasa? We hope so.

Kenya has made that choice, and CJ Koome may just be the right woman for the right job at the right time.

If you get the job, CJ Koome remember you are the first but surely will not be the last. Make us proud. — The writer is a media and PR consultant and a member of the Media Council of Kenya

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