Professor Mutungi, first Kenyan to get a doctorate degree in law passes on - Daily Nation

Professor Mutungi, first Kenyan to get a doctorate degree in law passes on

Tuesday October 11 2016

Prof Onesmus Mutungi congratulates a graduate

Prof Onesmus Mutungi congratulates a graduate during a graduation ceremony at Pwani University College on December 20, 2012. The law professor died on October 10, 2016 after suffering a stroke. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Law professor Onesmus Mutungi has died.

Prof Mutungi died on Monday after suffering a stroke, his family members said.

Prof Mutungi, 76, was the first Kenyan to graduate with a doctoral degree in law and was the first dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Nairobi, where he created an institution that has significantly influenced legal education and scholarship.

On Tuesday, Patricia Kameri-Mbote, the dean of the university's School of Law, described the death of the don as a great loss to the nation and to the legal fraternity.

“Prof Mutungi was the oldest professor serving any law school in the country. His other contemporaries in the old group of professors Prof (Hastings) Okoth-Ogendo has passed on while Prof (Jackton) Ojwang is serving in the Judiciary. We have lost a voice of reason who mentored students and fellow lecturers,” she said.

Until his death, Prof Mutungi was a lecturer at the University of Nairobi, where he had gone back to teach in fulfilment of an agreement with the university that on “his way home”, referring to retirement from the Judiciary, he would go back to lecture as long as he was not given any administrative duties.

Prof Mbote said that Prof Mutungi was taken ill in early September after delivering a mentorship speech to first-year students and had been away from school.

Prof Mutungi, who was one of the most brilliant legal minds in the country, drafted the statutes that established the University of Nairobi in 1970 and Kenyatta University College in 1979.

He graduated with a master's degree in law from Columbia University Law School in 1968 and a JSD (Doctor of the Science of Law) from Yale University Law School in 1974.

After his law studies, he joined the University of Nairobi, where he rose through the ranks as lecturer to become deputy-vice chancellor for academic affairs, before becoming chancellor at Kenyatta University.

Before returning to the University of Nairobi to teach, Prof Mutungi served as a High Court judge from 2003 to 2009.

He also headed the Standing Committee on Human Rights, through which he investigated over 500 complaints of human rights violation from 1996 to 2000.

In his expansive career, he described relocating the faculties of Law and Commerce (then Government Secretarial College) and Kabete (former Kenya Institute of Administration) in a record three days as his most memorable occasion.

He has left behind a wife and five children.