Judicial Service Commission Kenya

Lady Justice Martha Karambu Koome is the top choice for the Kenya's Chief Justice

Martha Koome Earmarked to Become Kenya’s First Female Chief Justice

Currently a Court of Appeal Judge, human rights defender and advocate Lady Justice Martha Karambu Koome's name has been forwarded to President Uhuru Kenyatta for appointment — and we're holding thumbs for her!

Despite the world being 21 years into the 21st Century, women are still celebrating many firsts. This time, Kenya is poised to elect its first woman into the illustrious role of Chief Justice. Lady Justice Martha Karambu Koome emerged as the top pick out of ten candidates on the Judicial Service Commission's (JSC) 2021 list. The decision is said to have been unanimous.

Following a gruelling interview process, Justice Koome beat nine other qualified candidates. Also in the running for the position was Said Juma Chitembwe, Professor Patricia Mbote, Justice Marete Njagi, Philip Murgor, Justice Nduma Nderi, Fred Ngatia, Justice William Ouko, Dr Wekesa Moni and Alice Yano.

The nomination was not without contestation. Ngatia, one of the candidates, has disputed the nomination arguing that the JSC manipulated his scores, according to reports by Business Daily Africa.

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On Tuesday the JSC released a statement denying the allegations. "The JSC has run an open, transparent and competitive recruitment process that has witnessed the participation of the public and key stakeholders," the statement read.

Known as the voice for women, Justice Koome stipulated that one of her top priorities was to reduce the backlog of cases. This, she plans to do by "reducing the backlog of cases through facilitating the appointment of additional judges and magistrates, operationalising the Judiciary Fund to promote its independence, promoting the use of technology as well as to building additional courts," reports Nation Africa.

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During her interview, Justice Koome made it clear that it was her intention to tackle the patriarchal structure of the law. "The law supports patriarchal structures. The legal structure is dominated by patriarchy. Laws are made in Parliament and the dominant gender of Parliament is male," she told the interviewing panel.

Should her appointment be successful, Justice Koome will join a small but growing league of women Chief Justices on the African Continent including those from Sudan, Ethiopia, Zambia, Lesotho and Seychelles.


6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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