, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 21 – “My activism, I don’t know if its madness. Sometimes people say I am crazy but sometimes you have to be crazy to live in a crazy world.”
This is the extent to which activist Okiya Omtatah will go to shield and defend public interest and the Constitution.
- In January 2008, he shocked bystanders when he chained himself at the Nairobi Police Headquarters clutching on a rosary while accusing police for 'killing' people during the Post Election Violence
- Former Education Minister Sam Ongeri tasted the wrath and uniqueness of Omtatah's chains when he got locked up in his Jogoo House office
- In 2011, he let his tongue loose when he told a magistrate who was presiding over a case involving him and other activists not to allow herself to be used like a condom
In his intimidating and brazen character, Omtatah has rattled even the untouchables.
His strident voice and actions have severally landed him in near death experiences.
The worst was when he was thoroughly roughed up and had six teeth removed.
“I was nearly killed over the BVR kits case. If you look at my mouth, in here (opening his mouth wide), you see those metals, I don’t have teeth, they were all knocked out. I just have artificial teeth. They nearly killed me because I refused a bribe of Sh9 million.”
He has been in and out of cells; “one thing I am most grateful of activism is that it put me in police cells. Like in Nairobi, I have slept in all the cells. I have met all characters.”
Last week, he won a high profile case which pushed former Deputy Chief Justice Kalpana Rawal and Supreme Court Judge, Philip Tunoi to retire at the age of 70.
He told Capital FM News that he had nothing personal against the two and that his main interest was to defend the Constitution and set the right precedent for the country.
“When I hear cases have been filed I go to the registry and I look through and if I feel the party – the State agency has handled the matter well and is protecting public interest, usually I don’t join,” he explained.
“The Rawal one, I noticed that the pleadings by the Judicial Service Commission were fairly inadequate and the chances of the judges getting through were there, I put my pleadings though I had been discouraged.”
For the entire of the case, Omtatah said he spent Sh50,000 for photocopying documents while he represented himself to cut down on legal fees.
He funds his cases but occasionally receives donations from friends.
“I am a businessman, I buy cereals in Uganda and sell them here. My set books also give me some income, I get consultancy to do research. But most important is that I lead a very simple lifestyle. I don’t drink, I use my money to fund my cases.”
Born to the pride of a Kenyan family which in those days ululated the birth of a boy more than girls, Omtatah was dressed like his four sisters to shield him from ‘evil eyes’ of jealous neighbours.
He wore dresses and the neighbours thought he was a girl.
Omtatah believes, God had a special plan for him despite the hurdles he met in his life.