May 3, 2013

SLS Launches Two Books Printed At SU Press


I had never seen the auditorium so beautifully decorated. It was 6.00 pm of Friday 3rd May 2013 when the VIP guests started arriving. When I saw the cars entering the car park I knew this was going to be an extraordinary evening for the Strathmore Law School (SLS) as the Strathmore University (SU) Press launched the first two books to be published under the mantle of SLS:


  1. “Ascendant Judiciary in East Africa” By Hon. Justice (Prof.) J.B. Ojwang’, Justice of the Supreme Court and member of SLS Advisory Board.

  2. “Ours By Right” By Prof. Patricia Kameri-Mbote, Chair of its Advisory Board; Prof. Collins Odote, Dr. Celestine Musembi and Willy Kamande

The guest of honour was Hon. Dr. Willy Mutunga, the Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya. In attendance were also judges of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the High Court, ambassadors, lawyers, politicians and scholars, deans of other law schools, students and many friends of SLS.  


The Chief Justice enticed the audience with a short walk down memory lane of him being a “Strathmorean” when he sat his A levels at the then Strathmore College. With heartfelt gratitude, he lauded his then teachers and mentors, Prof. David Sperling (SU), Martin Drakard, Prof. Terry Ryan (the Central Bank of Kenya) and Mr. Sylvano Borusso (Strathmore School). For more about those years he told us to await the launch of his biography “Inspiring Encounters”. While commenting on the book , Ascendant Judiciary in EA by Justice J.B. Ojwang’, he acclaimed his colleague as the source of intellectual leadership at the Supreme Court and praised his work in the critical roles he has played in implementing the critical pillars in the development of a robust, patriotic, indigenous and progressive constitution and the Supreme Court Act 2011. He further emphasised the “great premium” the judiciary attaches to academia as he praised and honoured the book Ours by Right by Prof. Patricia K-Mbote as well as the scholarship of her co-authors Dr. Celestine Musembi, Prof. Collins Odote and Willy Kamande. The CJ urgently called on Law Schools to establish links with the Judicial Training Institute to provide training to magistrates and judges whereby discussions on emerging jurisprudence, critique their decisions and publish scholarly articles. He specifically called on SLS to play a pivotal role in attaining this vision. On a lighter note he hoped that there would be life for him at SLS after he retires from the bench.  


The authors, giving a brief of their books, were elated to see their hard work finally coming to fruition. Prof. Patricia K-Mbote said that the greatest joy for her as a scholar culminates on occasions such as these where the “product of their research is packaged and availed for use by others”. Her firm conviction is that research, publication and dissemination should remain the stronghold of universities in Kenya otherwise legal scholarship will be relegated to other forums outside of the scholarly scope.  She hopes that these publications will be the establishment of a culture of rigorous peer-reviewed legal research and publication in Kenyan universities. With sincere,  gratitude she acclaimed her team, Dr. Musembi, Dr. Odote, and Mr. Kamande and the reviewers, Dr. Luis Franceschi, Dr. Nathan Ronoh and Dr. Elizabeth Gachenga for their insights. As should a good author, she gave the audience a sneak preview of the genesis of the research that led to the book explaining the need to analyze community rights, their constitutional and policy recognition as well as their formal and informal institutions and processes. She sincerely thanked the CJ and the Ford Foundation for sponsoring the book and the vice-chancellor of SU for providing the intellectual space and believing in SLS to be the bearing brand of SU Press.  


On giving the review of the book Ours by Right, Dr.Gachenga congratulated her teacher and mentor as she is now wiser on the issue of customary law and community rights which was unknown to her and relegated to traditional era 3 years prior to her embarking on her PhD with the provoked interest and informed her doctoral thesis. Dr. Gachenga views the book as a concise 6-chapter summary of far reaching insights and experiences on the issue of community rights in land. She found that it reads simply but still maintains the rigour of an academic work.

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