When a tribunal investigating an abuse of office incident involving deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza recommended her removal, I marveled at how things have changed. That a lowly security guard, Rebecca Kerubo could bring down Kenya’s highest ranking female judicial officer clearly shows the irony of justice.
This is a country where reputations are enhanced by sex scandals. People win enough admirers to start a church after master minding million dollar scams that loot public funds. Ministers even fraternize with drug barons and the most they get is disapproving looks in public. In the league of official abuse, Nancy Baraza’s scuffle with Kerubo was a misdemeanor the equivalent of a school girl caught trying her first cigarette. Surprisingly, not even her past record could salvage her reputation. Nancy Baraza made her name in FIDA, as part of the formidable federation of women lawyers who gained a reputation for defending women’s rights especially poor abused women who could not afford legal representation. But at the top judiciary echelons you have to be seen to practice what you preach and on that score, the deputy CJ effectively shot herself in the foot.
I suppose after this incident, Nancy Baraza’s famous words, “You should know people” ought to be paraphrased to read, “You should know people are watching”. Rebecca Kerubo’s minor assault case was destined for burial in the gutter press back pages. Unfortunately for her, the Twitter vigilante online marshaled by self declared people’s watchman Robert Alai picked up the story. In a matter of hours it became a trending topic that exploded into a furore for two whole days before mainstream press caught with the events.
Baraza totally underestimated Kerubo’s underdog appeal and she never imagined Kerubo would be incorruptible turning down her peace offering. I empathize with the Deputy CJ. She clearly had no prior experience with watchmen. She was probably never compelled to jot her details down in a tattered hard cover book at the entrance of a public building. She probably never knew that lack of I.D card could deny one entry to most of the city’s offices. Nobody ever told her that in Nairobi when a security guard demands to inspect your boot at the entrance of a supermarket mall it is best not to argue. It does not matter whether you own the building. While you may imagine you have the power, the security guard wields authority.
In a city that is lined by security guards in every corner, most Nairobians have learnt through experience never to make mistake of getting into an argument with security guard or matatu tout even when you believe they are in the wrong.
Security guards are everywhere and are generally amicable, hard working Kenyans holding the short end of the stick accustomed to swallowing daily crap from the upper classes at their work stations. They endure long hours, hostile work conditions, low pay and often the first casualties in the line of fire. They are ridiculed, dismissed on a whim and play a largely thankless role in securing other people’s lives. All through their trials, they are expected to remain courteous and vigilant. Therefore Kenyans know that when you find a security guard who is not smiling or responding to your jokes, it is best to fall back in line, submit to a body scan and sign the visitor’s book.
15 thoughts on “Of Nancy Baraza And Security Guards”
I actually have mixed feelings about this whole Nancy Baraza issue. Whilst what she did was without a doubt wrong, I think the matter was dealt with a lot of high handedness. Shouldn’t her past count for something? Whatever happened to forgiving and reconciliation? Rather ironical as well, that she spent the better part of her career fighting for women’s rights, and in the end, she is brought down by one of her own. On the flipside though, guess this is a lesson to everyone in public office to practice humility. “Everyone” said here with spades of salt, because methinks depending on who it is, you can get away with murder. And some have, literally.
I believe she should have gotten away with a slap on the wrist. Unfourtunately, people want to make an example of her. See how the DPP is quick to bring criminal charges against her yet he has failed to prosecute people with huge ICC cases
True, as you said, it should read – “You should know people are watching” or your enemies are watching , but it’s shocking that a tiff get’s someone to lose their jobs following a speedy investigations, while not a single high profile person has ever been prosecuted for any of the ongoing financial mega scandals that fill the headlines.
How tragically true. What a big lesson. Poor Nancy Baraza. Did any one person stand up for her in her private capacity? Has she no real friends and loyal family members? What about professional friends? Did anyone stand by her side to support her as she faces the charges of this so called isolated incident? It’s hard to imagine who advised Nancy Baraza to appeal? Defiance? Arrogance? Innocence? There could be a twist yet …but highly unlikely .
Her illustrious career has been highlighted but what kind of a person did it take to get to that illustrious place? The paradox of the ‘process of transformational whatever it is that Kenya is going through’.
Take this story now and reflect on it with the backdrop of the next national argument for ‘diluting standard bar of the integrity of those seeking elected posts’. May God Bless Kenya. In the meanwhile may justice and wisdom prevail in Kenya.That does not take God, that takes people.
Changing goal posts cannot bring about sustainable good for Kenya.Still it does not take away the good of an enlightened people.
Kenya has come of age and the sooner civil servants realise that the safer their jobs become. And twitter has thankfully given us the much needed voice.
It says something about our brave new day when the Judiciary is the most progressive institution we have. Used to be that tribunals were just another way of saying ‘sweep under carpet’ but not any more, or at least not where the JSC is concerned. Here’s hoping the focus on integrity spreads to other spheres, maybe even to us raia, seeing as how we’re the same people who treat guards not unlike Kerubo with the same disrespect Baraza displayed.
Mkubwa take caution not to be made a trending topic by yours truly ‘Unfortunately for her, the Twitter vigilante online marshaled by self declared people’s watchman Robert Alai picked up the story’
Lets just say that things will never be the same again for public officials. The next place to deal with them will be on Kenyan roads where they overlap and are driven like they own the roads. The time of riding roughshod over hapless Kenyans is all but over.
Couldn’t agree more…Did the international media pick this story well…high ranking judicial officer brought down by the “low” in society because of misdemeanor.
Someone once said that you can tell alot about a person from the way they treat people who are below them.
I dont doubt her(Baraza) undisputed career record but this incident told many about her persona. Lets just call it another peeling back of a mask. Kenya is changing people. The proverbial razor just fell a mugumo tree. Pole Baraza but you should have known better!
It’s unfortunate that Nancy Baraza misjudged what a society of scorned and trampled on people can do to the so called first class citizens when a chance avails. Gone are the days of ‘Do you know who I am?.’ Today it’s about the law unless your a politician.
Public servants must be very watchful, Kenyans discovered the social media. It’s here, especially twitter that your character will be roasted. Nancy Baraza, we are sorry for your loss and thank you for being a witness that the law is equal to all.
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I personally think Madame Baraza has been judged harshly by society. She epitomizes most if not all of the elite working class women who have struggled so hard despite all odds to be in highly favored position that were previously male dominated.if you ask me I’d say they were both victims, all they need to do is to settle it amicably, kiss and make up.
See a related post on :http://www.ogeezone.blogspot.com/2012/01/nancy-barazakenyan-societys-sacrificial_30.html
This whole thing with Nancy, I must say, was marred with lots of emotions following the big gap between the purported offender and offended. The people involved were not objective at all. These security guards are very rude to people and they mis-handle women’s bag more so if they think you belong to the so called” upper society”, they are just a frustrated lot who are ready to vent their hopelessness on anybody. Kerubo should not play the victim since we all know that Nancy is not mad enough to wield a gun at her without provocation. Nancy is a high ranking official and surely Kerubo should have been able to recognize her face and treat her with some dignity. Kwani she doesn’t even watch news to have seen her during the interviews. People have done worse things in this country more than mere nose pinching. By the way what if Nancy wasn’t highly placed, what if she was just another woman like me who refuse to be searched, am sure nobody would have bothered about two women arguing in the market, it would never have been news at all. Nancy is punished because of her status not because of what she did. I know God of justice does not look at things the way we do. He will surely prevail. Nancy may have overreacted yes but let those who have no sins be the first to throw stones.
You are wrong in so many ways. For one, before this saga broke i had heard of Nancy but i had never seen her nor her picture anywhere so to ask people to “know” these highly placed individuals is to rightfully attract scorn.
As head (or deputy) of the justice system it is part of your duty to lead an exemplerary life in and out of office. Like somone has pointed out here “the way you treat people lower than you tells more of who you are as a person”. I have on numerous occassion had the misfortune of dealing with arrogant and unproffesional security guards but what i discovered is that humility and a smile will open alot of closed doors.
She now serves as an example to all in “high” places.