“Order, order in my court room.” Shouted the sober judge as the startled court room looked on, perplexed by the sudden outburst from the presiding judge. It is not uncommon for judges to shout out in response to severe noise made by spectators or interested parties in a court room. What made this particular scene odd was the fact that the court room was silent previous to the outburst and hence the surprised expression worn by most people in the packed court room. “I will have order in my court room or I will hold all of you in contempt of this court” continued justice Furaha in a silent ominous voice sending a chill to his audience, who watched silently as the judge seethed for offenses not yet clear to them.
Now Furaha was not an ordinary man, not only due to his achievements that made it possible to adorn the judicial robe but for other reasons not clear to the mass. It would be wrong or at least fallacious to describe his true nature as great, since the word that bests fit him is odd. Yes, this particular justice was very odd not only in the way he determined his cases but in the reasoning that led to those judgments. But he was not always like this, this sober man, for there was a time that his conformity to the traditions of the legal practice earned him his current position. But the universe is an odd place and the mechanisms of time have a way of altering even the sober of minds. So why should a learned judge be an exception to the tricks of fate? For no mortal justice can bring fate to book. And thus the good judge found himself torn between the need to do his duty and his inner longing to exploit his fetish, nature versus nurture.
Furaha did not always want to be a judge. In fact his dream was to be a pro dancer, waltzing into the best ballrooms of the world. He had always thought himself as possessing unbelievable talent in dancing, and hence the thought that it was only a short time before he could achieve his childhood dream. His father did not quite agree, believing that his son was too bright to pursue such a nonintellectual path. Nonetheless, he let his son indulge in his fantasy and did not discourage him from taking adequate time practicing while he should be studying. Day and night Furaha practiced, in the dance school during the day and in his room at night. Indeed, there didn’t seem to be any scenario whereby the young dancer wouldn’t achieve success.
The butter on the bread for Furaha was Winny, his dance partner and love of his life. Winny was beautiful, with a smile that could rival that of the Monalisa. She was blessed with a figure so stunning many were suspected to have broken their necks on the street craning to have a second glance at her. But she was furaha’s, she of such divine beauty. And more than dancing, in fact more than anything or anyone in the world, he loved her. His love for her was so intense that he knew, if it ever came to it, he would gladly lay down his life for her. And everyone thought what a beautiful couple they made, and needless to say their relationship was the envy of the whole estate. It was a sad day for Furaha when his winny packed her bags to leave for her first year in a distant college, to pursue an Arts degree in Music. As for him, to ensure that their knowledge of music and dance is in sync, he too enrolled in another campus as winny’s program was already full. Such was his devotion to their unity, never once doubting their eventual matrimony.
There was a good reason why Justice Furaha was unable to concentrate on this particular trial. He was looking forward to the next case in his calendar, and found the present case boring and trivial. Divorce cases always bored him, wondering exactly why the state cared so much about why mature people wanted to divorce. In fact, he was not aware of any single divorce case he had objected and had always speedily allowed the parties to separate. He was always a fair man and divided property in a manner that he felt was just for both parties; all factors considered. However, he frowned heavily on gold diggers who sought to reap where they hadn’t sowed and did not assign to any what he wasn’t owed. He once sent a gold digger without a cent when it was clear to him that all she had wanted from the beginning was the man’s wealth.
“I’ve heard enough.” Cried the judge and the aggrieved parties looked on, not sure what to do. “We shall meet here in the morning when I shall deliver my judgment, court adjourned.” Furaha briskly walked out of the court room leaving one of the lawyers who was in the middle of presenting his argument completely baffled. And since there was nothing else they could do, they shepherded their clients out of the court room to await judgment tomorrow. Some people were heard questioning the outcome of the day, wondering whether court cases are always carried out in such a drastic and bewildering manner.
The judge relaxed in a comfortable seat inside his office and wondered how he was going to handle the next case. A section of the legal society were suing the police commissioner for human rights abuse during a demonstration recently held by these learned friends to complain against these same violations. But it seemed that the country was bent on perpetual ignorance, a need to abuse others as a tool of dominance and subverting rebellion. He couldn’t help and feel apprehensive about all these, curious about what would happen if the judges took to the street to complain about the same. Would these security men be so enthusiastic to fall upon them with clubs and water cannons, kicking and punching these noble fellows? Perhaps they would. But he did not intend to let that ever happen and the next case would give him and his brothers a chance to redress this issue once for good. But that was what he would want all his colleagues to believe, for the truth was something totally different.
Furaha back in the days loved to visit his beloved, loving the surprised expression in her face when he surprised her with a visit. He would prepare himself meticulously, choosing just the very clothes that Winny always complemented. But before that day could be upon him, he would spend several more looking for just the right presents to take to his dear Winny. Mostly he would settle for jewelry, expensive ones since she was a woman with very exquisite and expensive taste. But he never did mind, noble Furaha, for the wise men of old did say that love is indeed blind. Some local gurus in fact went further to declare that the beloved’s place has no hills, something that was quite ironical especially in that country. But then, Furaha was so begotten he could never doubt her love for him; and in his eyes Winny could never do any wrong. Once some one had asked him what his definition of an angel was, and he had promptly told the enquiring fellow that it must be Winny. No need to say that Furaha had walked away chuckling to himself as his bewildered companion was left to try and come to terms with his friend’s witty answer.
So after frantic efforts to acquire the right gift for her, he would pack for a weekend and head to her campus. And on arrival, he would show himself in to her room using the key she had given him and wait for her. He always travelled there on a Friday since he knew she would never be in her room and hence his presence in her room would definitely be a surprise. And when she came into the room she would cry in delight and throw her arms around him, hugging him tight close to her beautiful bosom. That hug always stayed with him long after the visit, a beautiful memory acting as a reference point for joy in terms of sadness. She would lean back a bit so as to kiss his lips, slowly at first but frantically as their desire rises up. And there in her room, they would make sweet love taking only short breaks to get some food in their exhausted bodies. Yes, these were beautiful times for Furaha, the best days of his life.
“All rise, Justice Furaha presiding” The people rose as the judge walked into the court room, taking his time to settle into his seat.
“In the case of Monica vs. James, I have come to the following conclusion. That the defendant’s actions constitute desertion and that the plaintiff has proved her case adequately. And cognizant to the marriage laws of Kenya, I direct that the properties in question be divided into two and each party be privy to an equal half. In addition, the matrimonial house shall be the property of the plaintiff who shall have custody of the children and shall create an adequate forum for them to see their father. The father shall provide monthly child support for their upkeep to the tune of 100,000 monthly and failure to do so shall constitute contempt of court. Let it go on record that that is the courts final judgment. The court therefore considers this marriage nullified with immediate effect.”
The defendant looked at the judge forlornly and though he would have loved nothing better but to issue insults, he knew well that such acts would lead him to the slammer. He cast daggers to his ex-wife and cursed the day she came into his life. But deeper within himself, he knew he was to blame and considered changing his philandering ways if he is to avoid such losses in the future. Justice Furaha looked at the defendant, disappointed that he didn’t cause an outburst, and hence melancholic at being denied a chance to send this promiscuous man to Kamiti. He has always hated such men, promiscuous and immoral, eating away at the very moral fiber of his society.
“Perhaps it’s time parliament made stiffer laws against such people,” murmured Furaha to himself as he waited for the clerk to call the next case.
“Activists caucus of Kenya vs. The Police Commissioner.,” The clerk shouted apprehensively wondering how such a case could possibly progress.
In the past attempts to file such cases against such high profile government departments usually ended up being thrown out. The bailiff expected this one to follow a similar course, confident that Furaha would listen briefly and find that the case lacked merit. The attorney general had sent one of his lawyers to represent the commissioner who was being sued on behalf of the police service. These particular activists were incensed by the fact that the police had not ceased infringing on their rights every time they assembled to demonstrate against injustices. The new constitution had provided citizens with the right to file suits against officers or other government agents who infringe on rights given them by the new dispensation. It came as no surprise that the police department, always brutal and primitive, was the subject of such a major suit by a group of different civil groups.
“May the plaintiff present its motion so that the court can judge the validity of this suit,” said Furaha slowly, knowing very well that he intended to listen to the case to its conclusion.
The lawyer looking regal and important, carefully chosen by this group as having the best qualification to enhance their agendas, stood up with several notes in his hand.
“Your honour, as this court may be aware, we have recently enacted a new constitution. This constitution was approved by a majority, in fact such a number as to make it incontestable. In this regard, all institutions in this country are bound to respect the will of the people of Kenya, and I am here to call upon this court to enforce this will,” he paused a bit to take a sip from his water bottle before continuing with his opening remarks.
“This new constitution grants the people of Kenya the authority to assemble at will and to demonstrate peacefully without being harassed or stooped. However, on three separate occasions, the police intervened and attacked peaceful demonstrators, injuring some and arresting some,” We are going to present evidence showing the occurrence of this heinous acts by the police and hence our hope that the court will not only grant us a hearing soon, but will at the end assign adequate damages to the aggrieved parties.” The plaintiff’s lawyer sat down to a loud applause from the audience, clearly elated at the way their lawyer was handling things.
The judge signaled to the commissioner’s lawyer to present a counter argument against proceeding with the case. He already knew the kind of thought that he would use in the hope of discouraging the continuation of this case, knew it because he had seen it all before. The government lawyers always tended to have that smugness on them, as if they truly knew that their clients were untouchable. A small fleeting smile appeared on this judge’s face, anticipating the surprise waylaying this ignorant lawyer.
Furaha was the star of the judiciary, his careful consideration and research in making judgments has always gone well with the higher powers. In fact, several times, he had declined offers for advancement into the court of appeal and maybe a real chance at the highest judicial office in the land. But Furaha had always declined such offers, insisting that his services were more needed here at the high court. The people on the upper offices have always been puzzled by this, and in their confusion had decided that Furaha was very modest and dedicated indeed. It was for that particular reason why all the major cases came to him, and his judgments were rarely, if ever, overturned by a higher court. His reputation was his shield, carefully crafted to withstand the fiercest legal battle and any possible consequence. And finally, this very patient man was just about to have his day; revenge was indeed a dish served cold.
As the attorney general’s learned friend rose to make his argument, Furaha couldn’t stop himself from reminiscing about the past and the implications it has had on his whole life. The lawyer even mistakenly took the smile playing on the judge’s face to mean that his argument was playing well with him, poor man, if only he knew. But such is the mysterious ways of fate, and the learned friend was just another casualty in a plot of man and fate, in pursuit of both justice and revenge. But he was not to know of this truth, forever destined to grope in the dark for an explanation of the events that were to follow. No, Furaha’s smile was not for him, but to a memory of her who always had his heart.
On the edges of Lake Naivasha, a couple holds hands as they walk along the sandy beach of the lake. Occasionally they look at each other and while he looks deeper in her eyes, he whispers those magical words and is rewarded with a perfect smile. The people around them look in envy, struck by the love evident in the acts of this young couple. As they walk on along the beach, he untangles his fingers from hers, and puts a protective arm around her shoulders. Instinctively, she puts he small perfect arm around his waist, a show of unity and reciprocated love. And the couple chooses a strategic point to look on at the lake and admire the flamingoes, so beautiful in this sunny day.
Furaha was drawn into the present by the silence permeating in the court room, and he found that the government man had already summed up his argument. Reluctant as he was to leave the past, the future loomed large and the outcome held for him more appeal.
“The question here is who bears the responsibility for these grave wrongs, and whether this court can ignore such blatant breach of the constitution. It is my belief that this branch of government has failed in the past to exert its authority to protect the fundamental rights of the people, and to continue doing so is fraudulent and a show of impunity. Therefore, I find that this case has merit and that the government has a case to answer for their role in the actions that led to harm and unlawful arrest of peaceful demonstrators.”
“Objection, the whole government cannot be held accountable for the acts of a few security individuals,” Shouted the incensed government man.
“But of course,” interjected the judge “Therefore, I direct that the police be enjoined in this case and that the plaintiff can go ahead and sue the police commissioner on behalf of the police service. These security men, who our learned friend alludes to, are agents of the commissioner and hence vicarious liability dictates that he takes responsibilities for their actions. “
“I hereby set the commencement date for this case to Tuesday next week, and that the police commissioner must appear in person to answer to these charges.”
The judge, clearly in good moods waited for the commotion to cool down.
“Court adjourned.”Days rushed so fast and Furaha could be seen in better moods as the day of reckoning beckoned. He had spent the week writing his judgment, taking his time to make it meticulous and binding. He had researched greatly, referring to books of laws, the penal code and previous decisions to make sure that his decision was foolproof. Perhaps it should have appeared odd, even wrong to do before the case began. But that was no longer possible, the outcome of this case having been decided so long ago. The dice was cast, and nothing, not even fate could change the outcome. For all the parts had been cleverly set, there was no escaping this path; all that remained was the accused to accept his fate and give Furaha his day of triumph. And so, the judge sat soberly in his seat and ordered the commencement of the case, looking at the unsuspecting pawns before him.
“Your honor, we are going to present witnesses and other evidence that show the police service has knowingly infringed on the rights of these individuals and in the process caused them harm. We ask for permission to call our first witness,” continued the lawyer for the activists.
“You may proceed, and kindly employ haste as this court has other matters to attend to.” Said the judge even as he noted the absence of the commissioner.
But it didn’t matter, for he already knew the man wouldn’t come, aware of the man’s arrogance and sense of security. In fact, he had expected it, willed it for it fell right within his agenda. And so the good judge didn’t see any point in listening to these arguments, knowing well that they had no influence on the outcome of this case. So instead he thought of one Benson, a friend perhaps, a conspirator indeed.
Back in the days, Furaha had a friend in high school and his name was Benson. They were good friends, brought together by fate, and a class teacher who saw it fit to make them desk mates. Benson was a true genius in all fronts, academically and socially. He was always top of the class, far beyond the reach of any other student. In addition, his leadership skills were unmatched and it was no wonder that he became school captain, while Furaha ended up heading the entertainment docket. But at the end of high school, a scene happened which saw Benson accused of cheating on his final exams and his results nullified. It was two years later, when Furaha remembered the plight of his friend, and appealed to his influential father to have his results removed from the cheating list. Moreover, though his father couldn’t fathom this increased generosity, he begged his father to be the one paying his friends university fees. All this was made with one condition, a condition based on Furaha’s complete confidence on Benson’s ability to achieve anything. That his friend must pursue a legal degree and employ his immense skills, to rise to the highest judicial office in the land, as fast as was humanly possible.
The case only lasted a week, and each part did its best to argue for its side, each hoping that the judge would rule in their favor. In the Day of Judgment, many would swear that they noticed a slight bounce in Furaha’s walking style; a testament perhaps for the joy he felt in this day of retribution. The courtroom was packed to capacity with every media house represented, ready to broadcast what might be a change in the way things are done. And true to this prediction, Furaha didn’t disappoint.
“Ladies and gentleman, today is a monumental; day in the history of this nation, and this court finds itself in a unique position to address grave wrongs conducted with disregard to human rights and adherence to our constitutional dispensation. This court cannot ignore that, not even if the accused is the President, for the people, and indeed the government has continuously demanded an end to impunity.”
And Justice Furaha went forth, with a small smile in his face, to rule in the activists’ favor finding that there was clear evidence of these wrongs and that a clear link has been established between the conduct of the officers and standing directives issued by the commissioner. On the issue of damages, Furaha awarded the caucus 1 billion shilling to act as a deterrent against government excesses in the future and directed that the same be paid out within a month or the AG will be found in contempt of court. But the shocker came when Furaha went forth to find that the commissioner was in contempt of court for failing, at all sessions, to appear as directed by the court. Moreover, he ruled that the commissioner was in direct violation of the constitution and that his liability in this case constituted criminal wrongs and hence was subject to justice. For every day that he had not appeared in court, Furaha sentenced him o the maximum sentence of 1 year for every count, totaling to 7 years. For his role in allowing such gross police misconduct, he was sentenced to 3 years or a 50 million fine. Furaha, in conclusion issued an arrest warrant directing the AG to carry out the arrest with immediate effect and proceed to take him to Kamiti prison to carry out his sentence.
The events of that day shocked the powers that be, and the judgment was hailed by many as a step in the right direction against a culture of impunity. The AG, wary of being subject to a similar fate, quickly carried out the wishes of the court and the next day found the commissioner sited in a comfortable cell. He had appealed to the president for help, but the president’s hands were tied by a strong opposition looking for any reason to frustrate his agendas. All the hope now lay on the appeal filed the following day by the AG, pending before Chief Justice Benson. If only he knew how long the dice had been cast, he would have come to term early with his present predicament. For only God, or a daredevil breakout could secure him freedom. And thus another great man fell, a casualty of both fate and man in pursuit of justice and redemption.
And so the ghost of that fateful day could be laid to rest, justice having been done in equal measure. He will no longer be tormented by the events of that day, a day which forever changed Furaha’s day. He whose chosen career was music, forced to abandon a dream in order to seek justice for an immortal sin done to him so long a go. And with time, he had plotted, helped together with his influential friends, the rise of a talented young policeman to rise to the very top. A young policeman who had broken his heart, once when he had travelled to see his beloved Winnie full of love and expectations. And on opening her door, always so silently, found her in the arms of another man. Furaha was later to know that this man, who Winnie thereafter left him for, was a young policeman.