Farewell Luncheon Held In Honor Of Mr. Justice (rtd.) J.e. Gicheru, E.g.h.
August 12, 2011
SPEECH BY THE HON. DR. JUSTICE W.M. MUTUNGA, SC., CHIEF JUSTICE, PRESIDENT OF THE SUPREME COURT AND CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR LAW REPORTING ON THE OCCASION OF A FAREWELL LUNCHEON HELD IN HONOR OF MR. JUSTICE (RTD.) J.E. GICHERU, E.G.H., THE IMMEDIATE FORMER CHIEF JUSTICE AND CHAIRMAN, ON AUGUST 5, 2011 IN NAIROBI
Our guest of honor this afternoon, the immediate former Chief Justice and Chairman of the Board of the National Council for Law Reporting, (Rtd.) Justice Johnson Evan Gicheru; (Rtd.) Justice Abdul Majid Cockar; (Rtd.) Justice A.B. Shah; my colleagues in the Judiciary, past and present Members of the Board of the National Council for Law Reporting; management and staff of the Council, invited guests, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.
On behalf of the Board of and Management of the National Council for Law Reporting, it is my pleasure to join you all on this occasion as we celebrate the tenure of service of our immediate former Chief Justice and Chairman. First, I want to thank our guest of honor most sincerely for bearing with us for disturbing the peace and quiet of his retirement and for graciously accepting our invitation to join us this afternoon. It speaks of the high regard that the Council’s board has of (Rtd.) Justice Gicheru that when I presided over my first meeting as the Chairman of the Board of the Council on July 15 this year, one of the first items on the agenda was a farewell event for him. During the meeting, members were unanimous in their decision that an event should be held to celebrate his tenure and to give the Council an opportunity to formally say ‘thank you’ to him for his leadership and to convey our best wishes to him as he settles down to enjoy his retirement. I am happy that we are now here this afternoon to do just that.
Even though I have only been in office for a short while and I am still absorbing essential information about the history and present status of the Judiciary and the Council, I have to say that having previously practiced law and being a consumer of public legal information myself, the Council’s reputation precedes it. Even before my appointment in June, I knew about the long dry spell in official law reporting that spanned almost two decades before the Council’s Secretariat was established in 2002. As an advocate of the High Court of Kenya, I knew very well the difficulties that were the every-day experience of judicial officers, fellow advocates, scholars and the public who had very limited access to the judgments and rulings of our courts and other legal information. I knew these difficulties intimately because I experienced them myself. Subsequently, I was also a witness to the handiwork of the National Council for Law Reporting as it emerged from obscurity to establish itself as not only a law reporting institution but also an all-round provider of public legal information.
I have been informed by the Council’s management that this journey has been long, tiresome and fraught with many challenges. Even after the National Council for Law Reporting Act was passed in 1994 and the first Board was constituted in May 1996 under the Chairmanship of the then Chief Justice A.M. Cockar, it suspended its activities apparently due to a shortage in resources. That after the appointment of Mr. Bernard Chunga as the Chief Justice and Chairman in 1999, the Council’s activities were revived and the Council was allocated a share of finances from Judiciary’s budget and an office on the ground floor of Milimani Commercial Courts and that in January 2002 the Council revived the Kenya Law Reports series by publishing the 1982 edition. The rest, of course, is a history of triumphs and successes against more odds and challenges, with which all of you are more familiar.
I would like to commend (Rtd.) Justice Gicheru for having continued and sustained a tradition of leadership that led the Council to establish itself as the internationally acclaimed publisher of legal information that it is today. In a manner that is characteristic of that tradition, you would recall that your last official function for the Council was in February of last year when you presided over the commissioning of an electronic case management system that the Council’s ICT Department had designed for the Eldoret Chief Magistrate’s Court. This has been so far the most successful case management system for our courts and as the Judiciary ICT Committee has informed me, it meets the threshold for a successful pilot project capable of being rolled out to other courts in the country. Later again in the year, the Council was honored by Africa when it became the 2011 recipient of the Technology in Government in Africa Award, barely a year after it had won an award in the Company of the Year Award scheme.
While I fear that there may only be a few awards left for the Council to win under its new Chairman, my greatest joy is that the tradition of excellence and achievement is very much alive at the Council. As a matter of fact, just as a demonstration of the Council’s commitment to keep that tradition alive, permit me, if I may do so myself, to share with you the first great achievement of the Council under the chairmanship of your successor. Last month, the Council scored another first for itself, for Kenya and for Africa. It launched an online archive of the Hansard, featuring parliamentary debates covering the years 1960-2011 and an online archive of the Kenya Gazette, featuring Kenya Gazette notices for the years 1905-2011. This event, which is arguably the biggest thing for access to public information in recent memory, is unique in Africa in the size of the archive, the quality of the information and the speed with which it can be searched, shared and cross-referenced. Without taking any credit away from my predecessor who had the stewardship of the Council when it embarked on the activities that culminated in the launch of the online archives, I am as proud to be associated with the Council for this achievement as we all are.
(Rtd.) Justice Gicheru, before I convey to you the final farewell message, I would like to share some retirement wisdom and humour just to cheer up your afternoon. These are a few things, some inspirational and some hilarious, that have been said about retirement:
- Retirement…is when you stop living at work and begin working at living.
- Ultimately, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.
- We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.
- The greatest thing about retirement is that there is no mandatory age when you should retire from retirement.
- Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off your fears. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream and Discover.
And now, on behalf of the National Council for Law Reporting, I would like to convey to you a goodwill message that is customarily given to persons who are proceeding on retirement:
May you always have work for your hands to do,
May your pockets always hold a coin or two,
May the sun shine bright on your windowpane,
May the rainbow be certain to follow each rain,
May the hand of a friend always be near you,
And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.
Thank you and please do visit us often. We are always glad to have the pleasure of your company.
Good afternoon everyone.[Giving of gifts, photo session].