A moment with Kenya’s Chief Justice Martha Koome
Martha Koome is a household name in Kenya. She made history as she assumed office on May 21, 2021- becoming the country’s first female chief justice.
With 10 years ahead of her at the helm of Kenya’s Supreme Court, the 2020 United Nations (UN) Kenya Person of the Year 2020 nominee looks set to get the ball rolling.
On a quiet Sunday afternoon, Chief Justice Martha Koome opens her doors to our crew. A stickler for time keeping, her warm smile ushers us in to her home. We exchange pleasantries and get down to know the other side of her story.
Who is CJ Martha Koome?
I am a mother and an advocate for human rights. This is what inspires me to go out and deliver to Kenyans. I have represented in court for the last 40 years. When I was called to be called a judge I thought it was a good opportunity to ease the suffering of litigants.
What is your vision for the Judiciary?
I want to be remembered as the Chief Justice who managed to leave behind a Judiciary that is accessible to all. One where cases are handled expeditiously, without delay and cost-effectively.
Speaking of which, access to justice remains a challenge….
Indeed. That is why part of my vision is to be able to reduce the distance that Kenyans cover in order to access justice.
How do you plan to actualize this?
Teddy, it is my goal that we have a High Court in every county. Next, I want to see a Magistrates court in every sub county and eventually small claims courts in the Wards. Besides that, I want to build the capacity among Kenyans to solve disputes among themselves for the sake of peaceful co-existence.
How do you unwind? What does a typical weekend look like for you?
I love family. As you know I have advocated for families, children and I have pushed for bettering of the family unit. So every free moment I have, I spend time with my family and the community.
Shosho (grandma) Martha. They call me that in church. I do teach Sunday school because I believe that children are the bridge to the future, that is why I go to Sunday school without fail. Just to show them that that is where they belong and that we are concerned about their well-being. I am very connected with the community where I live. Whenever I visit the classes, they call me Shosho Martha.
Wow! I love food, by the way (laughs) I love brown Ugali, traditional vegetables and 'kienyeji' (country) chicken. I love to cook!
What was your favorite childhood game?
Oh! Kati was my favorite. But we had to sneak in to do that because helping our mother was the top priority. I really enjoyed playing the game of 'kati' (laughs as she attends to her guests)
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