In memory of Mutula Kilonzo, SC

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BY CHIEF JUSTICE WILLY MUTUNGA

I first met Mutula in July 1973 when I enrolled to read for my Master of Laws degree in the Faculty of Law, University of Dar es Salaam.

Mutula was in his third and final year of study for his Bachelor of Laws degree. I quickly found out he was one of the outstanding students in his class. Dar was a place for hard work, but this did not stop us, the Kenyan students in Dar, from posing for pretty photographs that were carried in the print media in one of the many media pieces on Mutula. We also welcomed him back in Dar after his marriage in December 1973. We were overjoyed and Mutula wore the coat of his wedding suit for the occasion!

Mutula wrote his exams in March 1974 and before leaving for Kenya, he gave me a telephone number of his relative with a request that I relay his examination results as soon as they were out. I was very proud as a Kenyan to communicate his record-breaking academic feat when Mutula became the first East African to obtain a first-class degree in law in the history of the Faculty of Law, University of East Africa, Dar es Salaam.

Mutula co-authored a brilliant dissertation with George Masese, his classmate and now a practising Advocate in Kisii as third year student. They wrote on peasants and the co-operative movement in Kenya using a Marxist-Leninist methodology. I have always believed that at Dar, Mutula came to understand how the capitalist system works. He used his brilliant faculties to prove that Marx and Lenin were right in how that system worked! And how that system, if well understood, could enrich lawyers, too!

I saw a lot of Mutula while he was at the Kenya School of Law, but saw more of him when employed by the firm of Kakuli & Mati Advocates. I had worked for this firm before I went for further studies in Dar.

He worked very hard and soon set up his firm. Mutula was always focused and worked hard to achieve his goals. I had occasion to do some briefs for Mutula when I was not teaching law at the Faculty of Law at the University of Nairobi. There were many closures of the university in those days.

Mutula was kind enough to loan me Ksh10,000 to help me buy a sports Mazda car, which I paid back by undertaking legal briefs for him. At some point, we thought we could be legal partners, but I chose the path of the academy and activism. Although our political paths were distinctly different, we remained friends and deeply respected each other’s political positions.

There is one act of humanity Mutula carried out which I will never forget. Upon my release from detention on October 20, 1983, he sought me out, gave me some money and quickly facilitated the renewal of my practising certificate as an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya.
He was then the President of the Law Society of Kenya. I got my certificate and in January 1984, I was a sub-tenant of one of my close friends and former student, Joe Nzioka. I had a means of livelihood, thanks to these two friends. As a freed detainee, I was shunned by many, but Mutula did what a friend should always do, help friends in need. I am sure there were possible political consequences for his action, but that did not deter him at all.

Mutula will also be remembered for his focused stewardship as Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and the promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya in 2010. He stood out as a brilliant interpreter of the Constitution and courageously guided its implementation through his legal advice. He worked tirelessly on drafting the various statutes that were the core to the implementation of the new Constitution.

Mutula gave me tremendous support when I assumed the Office of the Chief Justice. He supported the Judiciary in its assertion of independence. He attended the launch of the Judiciary Transformation Framework and supported its implementation. Mutula never missed any of our functions at the Judiciary, that in itself signalling a lot of political goodwill from the Ministry of Justice.

He played a pivotal role in setting up the National Council for the Administration of Justice, the assembly line for the justice sector in Kenya. Both of us were clear that when it comes to national matters, there was the need for robust independence of institutions but a constructive inter-dependence between them to achieve goals in the national interest.

Mutula was honest and outspoken on issues of justice and law. I admired his courage, which gave all of us in the Judiciary extra energy to carry out our transformation.

Mutula is one of the pioneers of the African Bar in Kenya, whose brilliance, professionalism and practice will remain a beacon to aspiring lawyers.

I saw a lot of Mutula during the presidential petition. He was one of the lawyers in the CORD team. One of the observers in that petition was his classmate in Dar, the Chief Justice of Tanzania, His Lordship Mohammed Chande Othman. Their reunion was a great occasion. I also saw him at the funeral of Mrs Ruth Waki on April 18, 2013 when, in his usual candour, he criticised the Supreme Court. His death nine days later was a great shock to me.

I send my heartfelt and sincere condolences to his family, the people of Makueni who elected him to the Senate, his many friends in Kenya and abroad.

May the Almighty Allah rest his soul in eternal peace.

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  • This is fake utter nonsense .. if he was all those things then why expunge evidence forwarded by his jurisprudence on technicality? This tradition of praising people only when they are dead… and by the way rumors has it that he wanted to reveal evidence about corruption in the supreme court during the petition…

    • Duncan Muchina

      Exactly, where did you get that mad notion bordering on hallucinations of the worst kind, oh dear King?!

      • Isaac Karanja

        Don’t abuse people instead advise them so that you show the appreciation of development on social media. Muchina kama umeshida vita hakuna haja ya kushida ukibishana na watu be a diplomat – Remember ”YOU MAY LOOK WISE WHEN SILENT BUT YOU MAY BE THE FOOLEST IF YOU SPEAK. Have a wisdom day bye Sir.

        • Duncan Muchina

          Thank you bro….I just spoil for fights at times..love fighting…but will heed your good advise. Seriously. Thanks.

  • Muhando Gedi

    Great to know of your affirmation that the late Senator Mutula was forthright and upright.Do you think the same could be said of you?And are you a muslim?

    • Isaac Karanja

      Muhando you appear to be a Christian, Good & Thank you. It is Biblical to honour leaders if you wona be blessed Roman 13:1 says”Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no
      authority except that which God has established. The authorities that
      exist have been established by God.” Don’t criticizes CJ HE DID HIS DUTY IF HE DIN’T DO IT WELL TELL GOD ABOUT IT. IF HE DID IT WELL GOD WILL BLESS YOU AND MIND YOU YOUR MAY BE POINTING FINGER TO GOD HIMSELF- HE CAN CURSE FOR DISHONORING HIM & CJ. Ask yourself why don’t some people never rise to ultimate power?? why do Kibaki rose to power?? EMILIO KIBAKI NEVER one time insulted former President Moi Let-if fact with all my poverty i can bet if kibaki mentioned anything against Toroitich even after Moi did whatever he did to Kenyans and him Let us judge our judgement before we judge other. Have a thoughtful day may God remembers you!

      • Muhando Gedi

        Thank you Mr Isaac.You are a practicing christian,are not you?Christians must be honest and obedient to their christian faith.I hope you are.I am a very honest man who has not allowed himself to be entangled with religion.I have not mentioned former Presidents neither have I insulted anyone.Are you imagining insults?When you read these commentary,are you particularly looking for insults?Do you expect everybody to be of praises?I am not sycophant.Learn to be constructive in your criticism.My desire for our CJ is he can better his service to Kenyans if he was very honest with himself.

  • its just fortunate that the dead don’t speak, i can imagine if Mutula could open his eyes and just listen to you as you say all this after the humiliation.

    • Ann kaa chonjo, dont post critical comments against such people with ur real and traceable ID…hii ni Kenya: Ina wenyewe…#Cybersmarts..

    • Isaac Karanja

      WHICH HUMILIATION ??? The reason there is down is because there is up and vise versa!! LIVE IS NEVER SMOOTH ALL THE TIME JOB OF BIBLE SAY.There times one is lifted up not always in dust. SOME TWO BOYS WERE HELD HAND TO BE TAKEN TO COURT, THEIR GRANDFATHER HAD ACCUSED THEM OF COLLUDING WITH OTHER BOYS OF EATING HIS LOAF OF BREAD mpaka ikawa nusu- ALL OVER SUDDEN THEIR GRANDFATHER DIED JUST BEFORE THEY WERE TO GET TO WAITING POLICE LANDROVER WHAT WOULD YOU EXPECT!!HE LIFTED THEM UP FROM DUST TO INHERIT THEIR GRANDFATHER FOR THEIR FATHER HAD ALREADY DIED!! My friend these two boys were mourning all through but their God came in the very last time for everything if we don’t appreciate that we shall never have good time, Success is failure turned upside down. LET US RESPECT AND HONOUR THOSE WHO DESERVE IT THIS IS GODLY if we don’t, we are fighting a lost battle – fighting God WHO HAS NEVER & WILL NEVER LOOSE.We too were not just surprised shocked actually we saw the hand of God not us neither our votes and WE HAVE LEARNED PROUD COME BEFORE A FALL AND HUMILITY LEAD HONOUR! Take heart Ann and God will Bless you

  • Isaac Karanja

    And what is the meaning of ‘allah’ religiously our leaned friend C.J.W.M???

  • Since the 1990s, I knew Dr. Mutunga was different from many of us. He is able to make and keep friends but would not allow friendship cloud his conscience. Still, his conscience would not let him forget his freinds after the job is done. That is perfect balance of forthrightness that this country needs to take off. Its is so rare that many will never understand you. I pray that I will be like you when “I grow up” in my responsibilities. I salute you Dr. Mutunga, I mourn your brilliant friend, Mutula.

  • Rest in Peace Senior Counsel

  • gandhi jr.

    mutunga you are atraitor. you are ahypocrite in eulogisinjg Mutula…….You dont deserve to speak in Mutula’s funeral…..shame on you….

  • mashinani

    Funny – Mutula advised all his children, law firm and others to never ever take a case before the supreme court. That was revealed by former VP Kalonzo during the funeral service of the late senior counsel Mutula. What a legacy for the poor CJ and his troop of justices at the SC

    • ali mohamed

      Shame…Mutunga judment was right. Mutunga is not Kibera resident who should be telling a looser that he won.

    • Duncan Muchina

      Where did that come from Ma-roots?

      • mashinani

        It was revealed by one Kalonzo wa Musyoka during the funeral service of the late Mutula Kilonzo. Twaz live on Kenya TV Mucina wa tata

        • Duncan Muchina

          Ha! Don’t believe everything you hear from vyombo vya habari na magazeti! Amka sana….

  • The chief justice talks about a relationship starting in 1973! is ANYBODY LISTENING? That is deep .In that period of time I have managed to PISS OFF a lot of people. I have also managed to make a lot of friends! What have you done? Remember for the one finger you point at me: THREE ARE POINTING BACK AT YOU! —–JARIBU UONE!

  • Kiatu

    Mutunga should stop airing his opinion on matters like this until the dust clears and everything is known. Mutula was a sick man who in death we have come to know about his shameful deed like raping his herdsman daughter and his sex addiction. I even think it is not far fetched to think Mutua would have raped his own daughter. he was a sexual predator that Mutunga knew about but choose to play politics with his conscience on this issue
    wewe Mutunga umekuwa bure kabisa that ruling must have made you very unsure of who you are

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