Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Watching Farah Maalim in action, you tend to see practical evidence a magistrate or a judge is usually a failed or reluctant private practice lawyer.
That is not to say the Bench is for the daft or the cowardly.

Sometimes, if you have a modicum of scruples or if you prefer honest living, you may find the Bar naturally disagreeable. It shares reputation hazards with carpentry, masonry or other professionals where completing the job within the promised time is entirely dependent on the absence of a better paying, similar job.

Maalim has been a practicing advocate. On its own, that should not suffice to draw conclusions on private depths of the Deputy Speaker’s honesty, guilt or even qualms and never mind what Jakoyo Midiwo or anyone else thinks.

From experience, we know had the Gem MP differed with the Chair at Junction Inn or anywhere else where revellers do not give a hoot if Alvaro is whisky or milk, someone else other than the Government co-Chief Whip would have been thrown out and not necessarily with his clothes on. Whatever he thinks of the Bench, the Deputy Speaker has apparently picked a thing or two from it. That is hardly surprising considering lawyers and judges are classmates at the Law School.
Post-graduation days see them going different directions often dictated by the scent of money, plain laziness or, occasionally, an element of probity.

Maalim must be watching plenty of the popular sitcom, the Divorce Court proceedings. Alternatively, he must be a keen viewer of Judge Judy. Listening to his bellow of his interpretation of Standing Orders and his version of communications from the Chair, you sense great admiration for the no-nonsense TV drama judges. He seems to fashion his style of delivery on their character.
In a way, the stern thunder in Maalim’s voice is a welcome complement to the sonorous voice of the Speaker.

Having replaced the booming vocal chords of Francis ole Kaparo, Kenneth Marende’s soft-speech tends to draw unfavourable comparisons and the erroneous conclusions he is comparatively weak.
But you need to have listened to his occasional authoritative dispatches to appreciate he must be a keen student of Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States. As the former president advised, if you wield a big stick, you can afford to talk softly.

On the contrary, Maalim prefers to shout and to wield a gun at the same time. Besides learning his style from TV, the Lagdera MP perhaps also picked a few habits from the Bar. Sometimes, a good lawyer learns you need to shout to sound serious. Some magistrates and judges, never to mention witness and clients, are hard-of-hearing either biologically or expediently. Thus if you desire their reaction, you must talk like a Jeevanjee Garden lunchtime preacher. Whether the audience is one or a thousand, you must talk at the top of your voice.
Or perhaps the voice is not that loud. Maybe because he is tall, Maalim gets too close to the speaker. By contrast, Kaparo and Marende are in the same league with Moses Lessonet and Emilio Kathuri.

Whenever the Eldama Ravine MP and his Manyatta counterpart plan to talk in Parliament, they must remember to deliberately wear shoes with raised soles. It is the only way they can get close to the hanging microphones that were apparently never meant to be used by anyone below 5’5 inches.
But then, if that were the case, how do you explain the apparent anger in Maalim words? His tone and accompanying gestures betray an irate Chair.

His body language depicts a man ruing the fact that he cannot use his fists, kicks and God knows what else on some of the hotheads in Parliament. Often, it is difficult to see or appreciate the source or the reason of his emotions. From suspecting Special Projects minister Naomi Shaaban’s ministerial statement will be too long to imagining Bony Khalwale’s Point of Order might be frivolous, the Deputy Speaker can work his mouth to an incredible fury in seconds.

It is understandable for the Chair to occasionally lose his cool. Were Parliament a high school, it is almost certain some of our students would have tried to set it on fire.