CJ Emeritus Mutunga Visits Tangaza University


CJ Emeritus Willy Mutunga was invited to Tangaza University on 4th February to guide PhD and masters students in reflecting on democracy and the journey to devolution in Kenya. The theme of his class lecture was: From Democracy to Devolution.


He adopted the Socratic method of delivering his lecture. The Socratic method has been used many times by the Institute of Social Ministry. This is when students are given a topic to read before they come into class. Different themes are laid out and each student can present and discuss the core message in the subject. The teacher becomes a facilitator rather than teach.

Dr. Mutunga proved to be an adept and deep thinker when it came to discussing issues that affect Kenyans today under the new constitution. The constitution was not about managing power and redistribution of resources but a reference guide to adjudicate over society.


Two points were important in the introduction of Dr. Mutunga. That is leadership and democracy. Democracy is not a value approach form of government. Neither is democracy like supermarket where we go to shop for it. Democracy is about sharing of power and distributing of resources to all citizens. Recently while on tour of Kitui County where CJ comes from the people told him that they were sad because the Malindi Court was bigger than Kitui’s Court. It meant he did like the Kitui people yet he came from there. Those seeking democracy and equal opportunities forgot that what matters is not about space but adjudication of justice by a community of judges, civil society organizations, and the state. The challenge Kenyans have is that there are the big five who seem to gobble up anything we call democratic space. These big five control the 38 ethnic groups in Kenya. This cannot be called a fare democracy. The presidency can only come from the big five, it looks most likely. Why would one say he is a community leader when for 35 years the people have elected him and seen no fruits of his labour other than seeing himself expand his body physic when more and more people are starving to death.

This is a call to people to rise up and confront what ails our society.

The PhD Presenters were: Damaris Kanini, Kate Kisasa, Mercy Ndirangu, Sheila Kamau and Joyce Deloge.

The question on resource management and distribution of wealth captivated discussion. Society is caught in a web of conflicts starting with individual needs, interests which are resource driven and forcing people to take positions. What is important is not what is for me but what is for all of us. This is where the electorate goes wrong. They do not participate in processes that govern them nor resist changes that do not favour them.

The history of demoracy in Kenya has been about few people taking the bull by the horns and moving the country forward. The 1954 Swynnerton plan, the 1966 Limuru Conference that threw Odinga out of KANU and the 1969 chai oathing. The 1980s too created a strong synergy of resistance to the system. JM kariuki’s death in 1975 and the death of Kenyatta 1978 and the detainees of 1982 remain great landmarks of transforming democracy in Kenya.

Federal state: The poor distribution of resources meant looking for a just system. Federal system was not far from what people wanted. However, the issue resources had to come from the central government. It was not until the new constitution 2010 came into force that devolution became a necessary good.

Themes for research: Land tenure politics and public participation. The challenge in Kenya is when land becomes a commodity then corruption crops in. Narok, Kajiado, Turkana had land as a commnunial entity but money culture has taken over. Lapsset, SGR and new roads have made the value of land rise.

The making of land as a commodity has created politics of exclusion. Representative democracy and faith institutions have failed to answer real issues affecting people. To make matters worse there and those who preach prosperity gospel. The very champions of the poor are now owning helicopters and aeroplane while people starve.

Kenyans should resist such madness.

Conclusion: All think and take solutions for social transformation.


  • William Attwood. The race and the Blacks covering 1963 and 1969.
  • Yash Pal Ghai: Understanding Devolution. Ed.by Yash Pal Ghai
  • Bosire and Gikonyo (ed.).2016. Animating Devolution in Kenya.
  • Steytler&Yash Pal Ghai. Kenya and South Africa dialogue
  • Global Financial integrity (online edition).
  • The Panama Papers: Breaking the story on how the rich and the powerful hide money away from taxation (tax Evasion).
  • Odinga: Not yet Uhuru, Mboya: Freedom after. The man People wanted to forget
  • Clement Lubembe and Kaggia’s autobiography

Dr. Reginald Maudlin Nalugala

Teacher Tangaza University postgraduate programme