The High Court lawyer Mr Morris Kimuli has greatly eulogised the Professor Otieno Odek
The late Justice was a Judge of Court of Appeal.
Kimuli described Justice Odek of as “a distinguished professor, scholar and philosopher who had worn many different hats.
“I still remember how a distraught me walked into his office at Parklands Campus, University of Nairobi. He was the Dean. I had been prevented from graduating because I had fees arrears totaling to Shs.33K” Kimuli said speaking to COUNTY DIARY.
“My people couldn’t raise the money. Prof. Mbeche had told me I would only graduate if the Dean Faculty of Law allowed me to, and that in writing. Dr Odek, as he then was, asked me to commit myself in writing that I would pay that money”
He then quickly wrote on my clearance form.
“cleared to graduate”.
What happened after that is a story for another day. A lot has been said about the man’s intellectual prowess. I will not dwell on it.
But if you want to know, the man left the University of Nairobi in 1987. With a First Class LLB degree. The only other person who managed a “First Class” in that class was Prof. Okowa (now in Europe). Prof. Odek topped his class from first year all the way to the Kenya School of Law.
The man is said to have been an all-round student. In fact, the story is told how all but 14 of the 100 students at Kenya School of Law Class of 1988 failed Accounting for Lawyers. Odek was among the 14 that passed.
The Pope’s Conclave has it that among those who failed the first attempt at Accounting for Lawyers was Shem Ong’ondo. Shem Ong’ondo was Odek’s teacher at the University of Nairobi, but they were classmates at Law School Shem needed to go through Law School in order to be admitted to the Roll of Advocates. Ironically, the accounting class was instructed by Bwana Mwarania, who was also a lecturer at UON.
Where was comity between colleagues? And by the way, the 1987 class wasn’t a “small class”.
It had among others Prof. Annie Patricia Kameri-Mbote, Justice Daniel Musinga, Lady Justice Lillian Mutende, Lady Justice Maureen Onyango (Labour), Lady Justice Margaret Wachira (now Margaret Muigai, as she would later get married to one of her teachers Prof. Githu Muigai).
Prof Odek taught me at Law School. I have also closely interacted with him when he was at the JTI. I have also appeared before him a number of times, at the Court of Appeal. One of the things you would easily see in him was his clarity of thought. There was something else.
The good judge would sometimes, in intellectual discussions, seek jurisprudential feedback on judgements he had participated in. I still laugh out loud when I remember something he asked me about a certain election petition judgement. And you know when you found him on a good day, he was witty and humorous.
Rip justice prof Otieno Odek