Sunday, December 12, 2010

Two Heros; Kitili Mwendwa and Bildad Kaggia

The story of Bildad Kaggia, one of the Kapenguria Six, is well documented here, here and here.  At independence, he won the Kandara Constituency seat in parliament and was soon to take his place in the first independence cabinet.   As a result of his disillusionment with the Kenyatta Government, he joined Odinga Oginga's Kenya People's Union (KPU).   On 17th February 1968, at Muriu Market near Kendu Bay, South Nyanza, he was arrested and charged with holding a political meeting without a licence.  He was subsequently convicted and sentence to one year imprisonment.

At the time the Chief Justice had retired and Justice Farrell was appointed acting Chief Justice.   As was normal in those day, it was obvious that the Chief Justice would be confirmed.  But there was the small matter of these KPU trouble makers needed to be dealt with.   In those days the Chief Justice mostly heard criminal appeals.   When Kaggia's appeal came up for hearing before the Acting Chief Justice and Justice Dalton, the judges upheld the conviction but reduced the sentence to 6 months.  A few days after the judgment, Kitili Mwendwa was appointed as Chief Justice and Justice Farrell retired.  The late 60's and early 70's were politically unstable times and obviously Kitili's appointment was to see to it that the Judiciary played its part in Kenyatta's grand political scheme.  After all why would an unremarkable jurist be appointed Chief Justice.

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