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Enemy of the State - Profile of Njonjo Mue

Enemy of the State - Profile of Njonjo Mue

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Published by Maskani Ya Taifa
This is the story of a Kenyan human rights advocate. A potential Enemy of the State in Kenya for raising above tribal politics, corruption, political assassinations and human rights abuses.
This is the story of a Kenyan human rights advocate. A potential Enemy of the State in Kenya for raising above tribal politics, corruption, political assassinations and human rights abuses.

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Published by: Maskani Ya Taifa on Sep 06, 2013
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A Lone Man… Does He Become an#EnemyOfTheState? NJONJO MUE
On 30 November 2004, a lawyer jumped over the perimeter fence around the private members’ car  park at Parliament buildings and ripped the flag off a cabinet minister’s sleek GK limousine. He wasimmediately arrested and charged in court the following day with creating a disturbance in a manner likely to cause a breach of the peace. Instead of pleading to the charge, he proceeded to sing thenational anthem in Kiswahili and to make a speech in full view of TV cameras, whereupon the presiding magistrate, Aggrey Muchelule, ordered that the lawyer be taken for a psychiatric evaluation. However, was the lawyer really mad or just mad with the NARC Government? Does thislawyer speak for you or just for himself? Is he a patriotic Kenyan or an Enemy of the State? Well, hereis your chance to find out. Please read on…
 A. NJONJO MUE – A BRIEF BIOGRAPHICAL PROFILE
 Njonjo Mue is a Human Rights Lawyer and Advocate of the High Court of Kenya having been admitted to roll of advocates in 1991. He currently serves as the Head of the Kenya Office of the New York –  based International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ). ICTJ works to help societies in transitionaddress legacies of massive human rights violations and build civic trust in state institutions as protectorsof human rights. Njonjo has worked with ICTJ since June 2009 as Head of its Kenya Office and as theDeputy Director for its Africa Program. Before joining ICTJ, Njonjo worked as the Head of Advocacy atthe Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. Njonjo Mue was educated at Alliance High School; the University of Nairobi where he obtained an LL.Bdegree; Kenya School of Law; Oxford University, UK, where he was a Rhodes Scholar and studied for aMasters in international law and comparative human rights (though he was prevented by illness fromgraduating); Helsinki University in Finland where he obtained a diploma in Problems in ContemporaryInternational Law; and the Nairobi International School of Theology where he obtained an MA in
 
Theology majoring in the Theology of Social Involvement, Christian Ministry and Leadership. He wrotehis MA Thesis on the topic “Forgiveness in Politics: Reflections on Truth, Justice and Reconciliation inKenya.”He has vast experience in leading successful human rights organizations both in Kenya and abroad. Heserved as the Head of the Africa Office of ARTICLE 19 – The Global Campaign for Free Expression inJohannesburg, South Africa; as Regional Director for Panos Eastern Africa based in Kampala, Uganda;and as Executive Director of Christians For a Just Society which seeks to mobilize the Church for socialaction in Kenya. He also worked briefly as the Head of Policy and Advocacy with World Vision Kenya. Njonjo Mue is a holder of several leadership and human rights awards, including being named theyoungest Jurist of the Year by the Kenya Section of the International Commission of Jurists in 2000 for his commitment to fighting for democracy, human rights and the rule of law; and the Anthony DzuyaLeadership Award by the Young Professionals Forum.He currently serves on the Rhodes Scholars Selection Committee for Kenya and the Governing Councilof the Kenya Section of the International Commission of Jurists. He is a prolific writer and campaigner onhuman rights and social justice issues and has spoken to many audiences at home and abroad. Njonjo iskeen on citizens’ participation in reform initiatives through legislative advocacy and was a founder member of the International Institute of Legislative Affairs on whose Board he sits. Njonjo is married to Katindi Sivi Njonjo, a policy analyst who uses futures methodology to study possiblescenarios facing societies in transition in order to help develop appropriate interventions.
B. CRUSADER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
From leading peaceful demonstrations at university to protest the assassination of Dr. Robert Ouko in1990, to representing Kenyan youth in celebrating the bicentennial of the French Revolution at a youthconference in France in 1989, to being a founder member and sitting on the advisory board of the Oxford Civil Liberties Society, to taking a leading part in demands for a new constitution in the heady days of “No reforms, No elections!” in the1990’s, Njonjo has given his life to the cause of the fight for humanrights.
Engaging the powers
 Njonjo believes in creative nonviolent action to bring about sustainable social change as well as tohighlight injustice. On 31 May 1997, during a rally called by pro-reform activists to press for a newconstitution, Njonjo led a group of activists in forming a human shield by kneeling before a fully armed contingent of riot police and GSU personnel. That was to protect their civil society colleagues as theyattempted to hold a peaceful rally, which the Moi regime had outlawed. While his comrades developed cold feet and fled, Njonjo was left alone, unarmed, kneeling to face the police. The picture above (SeePicture sent separately) was carried by
The People
newspaper, the day after the rally that was violentlydisrupted by the police under the caption, ‘Praying for the Nation.’
 
 
Season of discontent 
2004 was the season of discontent in Kenya. It did not take long for a country that had been voted themost optimistic nation on earth following the NARC victory in 2002 to sink to the depths of despair as thelofty promises of the rainbow dream team dissipated into a mere mirage and the political elite descended into the gutter of mudslinging and name calling in the wake of a dishonoured MoU. The only thing thenew government seemed agreed upon was the urgent business of raising MPs salaries and processing their car allowances and tax-free mortgages. Corruption skyrocketed with the advent of Anglo leasing hot onthe heels of the yet to be resolved Goldenberg scandal. As usual, it was the ordinary citizen who bore the brunt of the failure of governance, struggling to eke out a living amidst skyrocketing inflation.
Paying the price
Rather than merely join in the chorus of disapproval that was rising in every bar, bedroom and  boardroom, Njonjo decided to dramatize the outrage most people were feeling but did not know quiteknow how to express. After taking two weeks to do a whistle stop tour of all the eight provinces speakingto ordinary people about the performance of their government to ensure that he was not alone in thedespondency he felt towards the new government and its broken promises, Njonjo drafted a 10 pointmemorandum of protest and recall notice addressed to Parliament and pinned it on the main entrance of the National Assembly.A few days later, on 30th November 2004, he scaled the wall of Parliament and took away a pennant flagoff a cabinet minister’s limousine to symbolically demonstrate the government’s loss of moral authorityto govern. Contrary to press reports that he slapped Assistant Minister George Khaniri in the process, Njonjo’s action was entirely nonviolent as Khaniri himself later confirmed. Njonjo was promptly arrested and charged with creating a disturbance.
“Yes, I am mad!”
When the charge was read out before a packed courtroom and in front of TV cameras, Njonjo opted not to plead, but rather to sing the national anthem to further dramatize the nature of and the reason for hisnonviolent protest. When the presiding magistrate ordered that he be taken for a psychiatric examination, Njonjo made the following memorable speech:“Your honour, if in Kenya today it is considered normal for ministers to drive vehicles worth ten millionshillings while a family of six in Kibera subsists on forty six shillings a day, then you don’t have to ask a psychiatrist, I will tell you myself for free, I am mad; if it is considered normal for MPs to be taken toMombasa on holidays by BAT to be bribed to block tobacco control legislation while our people continuedying of tobacco related ailments, then I am mad; if it is normal for our leaders to traverse the land hurling insults at each other while our people are robbed, raped and murdered, then I am mad; and I takecomfort in the fact that I am not the only one, we are millions of mad people who do not want to actnormal while watching our country going to the dogs. As for the charge before you, your honour, I beseech you not only to find me guilty, but to hand down the harshest sentence permitted by the law.”

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