By Evans Ogada
The 6th C.B. Madan Prize awards ceremony was held at Strathmore Law School on the 7th December 2018. The award ceremony recognizes recipients who exemplify the characteristics of Chunilal Bhagwandas Madan Q.C. Justice Madan has been described as the best judge to have served in the Kenyan bench and equally, the best chief justice the country has ever had.
Justice Madan was called to the Bar in London at Middle Temple Inn at the young age of 21 years. He was later to be conferred with the prestigious title of Queen’s Counsel in recognition of his impeccable work as a legal mind. As a judge, justice Madan is remembered for his brilliance, consummate understanding of the law and as a thoroughly independent judicial office who fended off any interference by the Executive. Justice Madan is that rare pedigree of judge that believes in principle and sees to it that the principle is put into effect.
The C.B. Madan Prize seeks to award courage, principle and unshaken belief in human rights and the Rule of Law.
Notable attendees for this year’s event included His Lordship the Chief Justice of Kenya Justice David Maraga, the winner of the 5th C.B. Madan Prize award, who despite having only jetted back in the country after official duties overseas found it fit to grace the occasion, the former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, Hon Lady Justice Mumbi Ngugi, 6th recipient of the C.B. Madan Prize, Prof Sylvia Wairimu Kanga’ra, Dr. Luis Franceschi, Dean Strathmore Law School and Hon Gitobu Imanyara Editor and Publisher The Platform.
This year’s recipient of the C.B. Madan prize Lady Justice Mumbi Ngugi was recognized for her consistency in defending the Rule of Law and upholding Constitutionalism. In her citation, Justice Mumbi is recognized as one of Kenya’s finest judges in her work and consistency in defending human rights and constitutionalism. Justice Ngugi in her acceptance speech was gracious enough to recognize the contributions of colleague judges with whom she worked with at the Constitutional and Human Rights Division, Justices Lenaola and Odunga, in the protection of constitutionalism and the Rule of Law. She reminded all of us to remain vigilant in the course of human rights protection especially in light of the re-emergence of extreme right nationalist politics in the West that spells a threat to the protection of human right norms.
The 2018 C.B. Madan lecture was given by Professor Ambreena Manji from the University of Cardiff, who gave the invited guests a panoramic view of the land question in Kenya, starting with the historical analysis of land ownership in pre-colonial Kenya, the legal regime that was set in place at independence, the reforms that were intended by the provisions of the Constitution and the failings of the legal regime enacted to give meaning to the provisions of the constitution 2010. Her lecture was titled, ‘Land and reform in Kenya; the history of an idea.’ It was an intellectually portent lecture, candid as well as refreshingly analytical and it asked pertinent questions of us with regards to the stalled land reforms. Professor Manji, like the great teacher that she is, intended to stir up a conversation with regards to the land question and going by the nodding of heads in the room, she did a sterling job at that.
Other winners on the day included students who were recognized in the C.B. Madan Student Awards category. These were Benta Moige Morang’a, Joshua Malidzo Nyawa and Tioko Ekiru Emmanuel.
Emmanuel was feted for his article in the 35th Edition of the Platform titled ‘Reclaiming Courts’ Integrity through Adequate Funding: A Reflection from Kenya’. The article assesses the implication for underfunding of the judiciary for the attainment of the democratic aspiration of the 2010 Constitution. He points out that it is through allocation of adequate funds that the judiciary can discharge its functions efficiently. Benta Moige published an article titled ‘Interrogating Emerging Jurisprudence on the Right to Housing in Kenya’s Courts’ in the 33rd Edition of the Platform. Moige makes the point that the High Court lived up to the aspiration of social transformation embodied in the Bill of Rights. In contrast, the Court of Appeal has used classical liberal arguments, ill-suited to the Kenyan context and incompatible with the egalitarian tenets of the 2010 Constitution, to impose doctrinal barriers to enforcement of the right to housing. In the 36th edition of the Platform, Nyawa published an article titled ‘Is the Right to Strike under a Threat? The Ploy of Injunctions to Pulverize Teacher Strikes in Kenya’. He interrogates the emerging practice of deployment of court injunctions to preempt teachers’ strikes. He notes that the right to strike is a constitutional weapon granted to workers and trade unions to champion for workers’ rights. Thus for courts to take away this arsenal from workers, they tilt the balance of power in the labour environment and collective bargaining processes in favour of employers against the dictates of the Constitution.
The event also doubled up as the Strathmore Law school award ceremony in recognition of its best performing students. The award ceremony was jointly organized by the Strathmore School of Law and the Platform Magazine.
It must be commended that the organizers did a marvelous job in hosting the event. The Editor and Publisher of the Platform, Hon Gitobu Imanyara and the Strathmore Law School fraternity led by their dean Dr. Luis Franceschi deserve special mention for spearheading the organization of such a well-organized and successful event.
The 6th C.B. Madan award ceremony will go down in history not only for the awards conferred but also for the regeneration of the pertinent question on land and land reform.