A Tale From Kenya: Pride Goes Before Destruction, and Haughtiness Before A Fall

How an alleged gun drama between Deputy Chief Justice of Kenya, Nancy Baraza, and a female security guard, Rebecca Kerubo, is a classic case study of the proverbial wisdom of “Pride comes before the fall”.

By PaanLuel Wël, Washington DC, USA

January 8, 2012 (SSNA) — I was born in South Sudan, raised in Kenya, and currently schooling in the US. Naturally, anything of interest happening in these three countries does arouse my curiosity and pique my imagination. One such typical incident occurred about a week ago in Nairobi, Kenya, as Lady Nancy Baraza, the newly appointed Deputy Chief Justice (DCJ) of Kenya, was fetching some drug from the Village Market shopping mall — in the upmarket Gigiri area in Nairobi.

But as fate would have it, that decision by DCJ Nancy Baraza to procure some drug from that particular store on that particular day at that particular time has become the first sensational landmark events of the year 2012 in Kenya. The “patient” seeking the succor of the medication at the mall ended up in an ugly drama in which she is alleged to have publicly drawn a gun, ready to “finish” the female security guard who had asked her to undergo security check—frisking, just like everybody else entering the mall. The security measures were duly instituted in the wake of terrorism challenge pose by Somali Al-shabaab militants who have recently carried out bombing activities in Kenya.

The reported altercation between Nancy Baraza—the Deputy Chief Justice of Kenya, and Rebecca Kerubo—the female security guard at the mall, has Kenyans glued unto their TV sets every evening. Writing for the Standardmedia.co.ke, Alex Kiprotich and Kenfrey Kiberenge, in an article entitled Kerubo: My Encpounterwith Baraza”, report that Nancy Baraza pinched the security guard’s nose telling her "you need to "know people."

Rebecca Kerubo added:

"After she pinched my nose at the security desk, she proceeded to the pharmacy and beckoned me;" [saying] “Learn to respect people”

"I did not know she had a bodyguard and only realised when she told a man following her closely to shoot me.”

"I knelt down begging her to spare my life. I could not hear what she was saying but as soon as she lowered the gun, I fled to the security office up stairs where I found one of the senior security officers.”

Mr. Ogweche, the husband to the security guard observes that “everyone needs to be respected in his or her work and it is unfortunate that some people look down upon others. It is even worse when it comes from the custodian of our justice system.”

Besides being an archetypal instance of a pride coming before the fall, this alleged gun drama happenstance also touches on the question of (1) the rule of law, especially when it comes to top government officials, (2) the empowerment of women in Africa, and (3) the relationship between the haves and the haves-not, in as far as the former should expect to be treated by the latter in situation in which their roles are reversed.

First and foremost, Lady Nancy Baraza was appointed last year to be the deputy chief justice of Kenya as well as the vice president of the supreme court of Kenya. Her appointment stemmed from two main factors: her reformist credentials that had convinced majority of Kenyans that she would strictly adhere to the rule of law and uphold the constitution plus her being a female to fulfill the constitutional requirement that a third of public appointment must be filled by women. Her selection by the Judicial Services Commission, appointment by President Kibaki and PM Odinga and confirmation by the National Assembly made her the most top ranking woman in Kenya.

But if Baraza’s appointment was to safeguard the constitution, instill the rule of law and to showcase the empowerment of women in a patriarchical society, then her alleged public bearing have fallen short of the mark. Her refusal to have her frisked, her pinching of the security guard’s nose and her drawing of the gun, threating the life of the security guard place there purposely to protect people like her from danger, all smack in the face of the rule of law. As the guardian of the justice system in Kenya, she has set bad example to the nation.

Moreover, she has let down her womenfolk who have long maintain that a society manage by women would be a law-abiding and peaceful one. The sight of a female deputy chief justice of the nation, drawing a gun on unarmed and innocent security guard, is a godsend opportunity for male chauvinists who have been arguing that women are too arrogant to be bestowed with power and trusted with weighty matters touching the nation. In a society deep in ancient myth of women riding on the back of men when they were given leadership position in antiquity, Baraza’s conducts would only confirm the pre-conceived fear of the male chauvinists.

This is principally too bad considering that the root cause of the drama is not necessarily the fact that the security guard ask her to undergo security check, rather, Baraza was incensed by the fact that the security guard failed to recognize her as the Deputy Chief Justice of Kenya to the extent that she subjected her to frisking like a commoner. The security guard sin is her apparent failure to “know people.”

And of course, there is the other side of the haves and the haves-not. While the female security guard is reported to be earning Ksh 2,400 per week, DCJ Baraza earn upto Ksh one million per month. The female security guard live in a two-bed room house with other five members of the family, a rent of Ksh 4,000 per month, while DCJ Baraza live in a mansion, probably all by herself. The stark differences couldn’t be higher. For the Baraza, the idea of submitting to such “wretched” clouded her thinking to pull out a gun, forgetting the consequences of her action.

But as the call for her to resign, paving way to an investigation of her conduct, becoming louder and clearer, her chicken have come home to roost pending clearance by the investigation. Whatever the verdict would be, the milk has been spilt and nothing will ever remain the same. Though the incident has traumatize the security guard, given the fact that she lost her father to unknown assassin, there is a hope that the“unfortunate” incident would be a blessing in disguise for the rule of law and constitutionalism in Kenya if handle well.

You can reach PaanLuel Wël at paanluel2011@gmail.com, Facebook Page, Twitter account OR at his blog: http://paanluelwel2011.wordpress.com/

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