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

Posted: January 8, 2012 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in PaanLuel Wël
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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”.

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By PaanLuel Wël, Washington DC, USA.

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 Encpounter with Baraza”report thus:

The saga surrounding an alleged gun drama between Deputy Chief Justice (DCJ) Nancy Baraza and a security guard, Rebecca Kerubo, is shaping up to be a duel of the biblical David versus Goliath.
Justice Baraza has been put in the dock by Ms Kerubo in an incident that has captured the imagination of the nation.
Already, calls for the resignation of Baraza are getting louder by the day, ahead of a crucial emergency meeting convened tomorrow by Chief Justice Dr Willy Mutunga to discuss the matter.
For Kerubo, December 31 is a day she will now never forget.
It all started like a normal day with no notable events but what happened later that day would snowball into one of the most intriguing stories so far this year.
Kerubo left her Sh4,000-a-month, two-roomed house in the peri-urban Gachie after bidding goodbye to her three children and unemployed husband, Morara Ogweche.
In an interview with The Standard On Sunday, under cover of darkness for fear of being monitored, Kerubo said she arrived at work at 8am and took her position at the security desk outside the Nakumatt supermarket at the Village Market shopping mall — in the upmarket Gigiri area in Nairobi. She assumed the day would go as planned – extend up to 1am because of the many people coming for New Year’s shopping – and later join her family before merry-making at dawn.
During the interview heavily punctuated by phrases of mnyonge hana haki (the weak have no rights) and sobs, she says trouble started at around 6pm when “an ordinary shopper” came and insisted on passing without being frisked.
“In such instances, you have your supervisor scolding you for not doing your work. So I stood my grounds,” recalled Kerubo.
At this moment, she claims the shopper pinched her nose telling her “you need to “know people.”
For a moment, Kerubo was shaken but says she did not put up a fight as she did not know who the shopper was. “After she pinched my nose at the security desk, she proceeded to the pharmacy and beckoned me,” she recalled with tears flowing down her cheeks.
Learn to respect people
Kerubo says by then, she assumed the DCJ had calmed down but on reaching where she was, she told her to learn to respect people.
“I told her respect is two way and left the chemist for the security desk where I continued screening customers,” she said.
But this seems to have rubbed Baraza the wrong way. Kerubo alleges on her way out, the DCJ came to her desk and ordered her security detail to shoot her.
“I did not know she had a bodyguard and only realised when she told a man following her closely to shoot me,” she said.
By then, Kerubo said she did not take it seriously and went on with screening clients only to see the lady reappear pointing a pistol at her.
“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,” she said.
After reporting the incident to her supervisor, Kerubo, whose father was shot dead by unknown assailants as he guarded a Karen home in 2000, requested to be allowed time off as she could not continue with her work.
Recollecting the events of the day, Ogweche said on the evening of December 31, Kerubo returned home earlier than expected.
“Unlike the normal days, she came and did not even greet me and I knew there was a problem as she began to cry,” he said.
He said the following day, after disclosing her tribulations, she refused to go to work but convinced her for the sake of the family.
Since then, the events ensuing events have been intriguing. Kerubo has been shuttling from one Gigiri police station office to another recording statements.
She and her family have also been lured into a reconciliatory meeting with Baraza, which was set for Thursday at their home.
Ogweche says he received a call from a person speaking in Kisii dialect telling him to convene his relatives and wait for Baraza, who was to apologise on Thursday at 9am.
“We waited up to the evening and a woman claiming to be Baraza’s relative appeared,” said Ogweche.
As it seems, the frantic efforts to reconcile the two women – already far apart in the social standing – has only raised temperatures and widened the rift further.
The emissary allegedly sent by the DCJ failed to convince the family after they insisted Baraza herself meets them to apologise.
He added the woman, who did not even provide her name, rang someone whom she said was Baraza and told her not to proceed with the meeting because journalists were in the vicinity.
He said the woman brought them two loaves of bread, three packets of milk, two kilos of sugar, two kilos of rice, three packets of maize flour and four litres of soda.
Kerubo is a casual labourer earning Sh2,400 per week while Baraza enjoys a security of tenure and takes home monthly emoluments of over Sh1 million, all paid by taxpayers.
On the other hand, Kerubo rents a Sh4,000 two-roomed house where she shares with her family of five.
“We just moved from a Sh1,800-a-month one-roomed iron sheet shanty because our family is now big,” said Ogweche.
She said after the incident, she is no longer sure of the future of her job because of fear.
“My husband is a mason and when there is no construction work we all depend on my meagre earnings,” she said.
Ogweche, 38, said he has not known Kerubo to be combative or argumentative in their relationship spanning 17 years – 12 of them as a married couple.
“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,” he said.
The family says they are willing to forgive Baraza unconditionally if she offers a genuine apology.
“I am willing to forgive her if she apologises. But if she cannot, she told me we meet in court which is still okay for me,” said Kerubo.

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: https://paanluelwel2011.wordpress.com/

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