AMANDLA! VANGUARD EDITION
Nancy Baraza, Ph.D.
Professor of Law, School of Law, University of Nairobi.
Former Deputy Chief Justice, Kenya.
My Story, Your Inspiration
Africans believe that a mother’s tears are powerful- and indeed they are. As I commenced into my education as a young child, my mother the late Rachel Nabifwo, looked into my eyes and told me “I wish I had the opportunity to finish school. I did not, so, you are fortunate. Utilize it well and you will be great one day.” With tears in her eyes, she let me go. I hesitated, then ran off to school. My mother’s tears that morning would be my driving force for the rest of my life. My mother had been orphaned at twelve years, and much as she wanted to get a reasonable education, poverty did not allow her to. I took her advice seriously and ran with the opportunity - literally ran, through rain, shoeless and without an umbrella over my head. None of us, however, imagined how far I would run in search of education.
As I took oath of office as the first Deputy Chief Justice and Vice President of the Supreme Court of Kenya in June 2011, my mother’s wise counsel thirty-five years back, became a reality. Nobody could then have imagined that the young village girl from a remote, deprived area in Mt. Elgon area of Bungoma county could become the Deputy Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya. Although I resigned from the job under painful circumstances, I remained resilient, joining the University of Nairobi as a lecturer, and soon thereafter earning a PhD in law, a rare feat in the university. For young African women lawyers, I encourage you to chase your dreams. Nothing should stand in your way. You must be strong and resilient.