A good man has left us. Former judge of the Court of Appeal, Justice (Rtd) Daniel Kennedy Sultan Aganyanya, died on January 17, just a fortnight shy of his 82nd birthday.
To those who knew him, Justice Aganyanya was a man of few words, a kind soul, and a lover of humanity. He spent half his adult life dispensing justice.
Coming from a poor background in Kisasi village in Tirikiland, Aganyanya refused to let his physical challenges stop him from advancing to the highest levels of Kenya’s judiciary.
I first met him five years ago at his Cheptulu home in Vihiga. I was a rookie reporter, just from college.
Local journalists had been invited to cover the launch of his book The Judicial Purge 2003 That Never Was.
And, not unexpectedly, there was no fanfare, no hype, only a clique of journalists and a group of journalists and a man ready to pour out his heart.
WAR ON GRAFT
I cannot remember most of the things he said at that event, but this one I recall. “The world would be a better place for all of us if only everyone said no to corruption. Do not eat twice,” he remarked.
“Do not ask for something extra on top of what is legally yours.”
And this is precisely what Justice Aganyanya explores at length in his 55-page book, the chronicles of a man sacrificed on the altar of fighting graft.
Long before the formation of the Ringera Commission that was tasked with cleaning the Judiciary, Justice Aganyanya had already gone public about the rot in it.
He wanted someone to crack the whip, and he knew how. He approached three different chief justices to discuss how to end corruption in the Judiciary, but in vain.
To his shock, however, it turned out that he had just backed the wrong horse! Instead, he was branded a black sheep by the cartels that wanted him out of the corridors of justice.
In one of the chapters, he tells of how he learnt that his name was in the Ringera list: “I looked quite foolish when I came to learn that my name was on the list of corrupt judges through an announcement on the radio and television.”
However, he refused to go down without a fight. He knew he was innocent. For almost a year, Justice Aganyanya religiously appeared before the tribunal headed by retired Chief Justice Majid Cockar. It dismissed all the 11 charges filed against him.
Unlike some of his colleagues, who cringed and walked away from the harsh indictment by the Ringera report, Justice Aganyanya was determined to take the bull by the horns!
He is gone but the fight is far from over! Corruption is still rife, not just in the Judiciary, but in all other arms of government.
Such incredible lessons from the path he trod. He retired on February 1, 2012, after attaining the mandatory age of 74.
He served in the Court of Appeal for four years, the High court for over 20 years, and several years as a magistrate. He remained faithful to the cause even when junior judges came and bypassed him.
IDEALS LIVE ON
He spoke the truth from his vantage point of knowledge and wisdom. He wanted a world that would allow every child to dream and achieve their ambitions.
A world that would not despise the physically disabled but support them!
Throughout his tenure on the bench, Aganyanya endeavoured to help the less fortunate and to train those who cared to follow his footsteps.
His tormentors got it all wrong! Justice Aganyanya has left an indelible mark in the sands of time!
Let us not cry for him but for ourselves. Let’s cry whenever we remember that we have moved away from the ethos he espoused.
We must never allow the good jurist to turn in his grave! Fare thee well, fighter! Adieu Justice Aganyanya!
The writer is a broadcast journalist at BBC Africa.