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Patricia Kameri-Mbote:A decorated legal scholar

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Patricia Kameri-Mbote is one of the country’s most decorated legal scholars, an acknowledgment that hasn’t come on a silver platter.

Prof Kameri-Mbote has contributed immensely to legal education institutions in the country and published widely in the areas of international law, environmental law, women’s rights and property rights.

She has research interests in environment and natural resources law and policy, human rights, women’s rights, land rights, intellectual property rights, biotechnology policy and law and economic law.

Some of her notable publications include “Gender, Rights and Development: An East African Perspective”, “Separating the baby from the bath water: women’s rights and the politics of constitution-making in Kenya” written with Kabira Nkatha and “Women, land rights and the environment: the Kenyan experience”, among others.

She is a Professor of Law and the immediate former Dean at the School of Law, University of Nairobi (UON).

She has also served as the Director of Research and Policy Outreach and Acting Executive Director at the African Centre for Technology Studies, Nairobi.

Prof Kameri-Mbote was a member of the Committee of Eminent Persons appointed by then President Mwai Kibaki to advise the government on the way forward for the stalled constitution review process.

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She has also been identified as a renowned thinker in the global environment and sustainable development field by the World Conservation Union (IUCN); as a renowned and innovative thinker and researcher by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) on land rights.

Over the years, she has been involved in different areas of law at the national level including the drafting of the National land Policy, land Rights Framing, Gender and Law, environment and biotechnology.

However, her journey to the top hasn’t been without challenges.

Growing up in a rural setting, she had to learn to balance between school work at Mugoiri Primary School in Murang’a and household chores from a young age.

Fetching water and firewood, making food for the family, tilling the farm and attending school were constants in her daily routine.

She would later join a boarding school, St Michael Girls in Kerugoya for her upper primary studies where she sat her Certificate of Primary Education examinations in 1976 before proceeding Loreto Girls in Limuru.

While her teachers at the school were convinced that she would make an exceptional teacher, she had her mind set on a career path in law.

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In 1984 she was admitted to study law at the University of Nairobi, graduating in 1987 before landing her pupillage with the esteemed Kaplan and Stratton firm of advocates.

As fate would later have it, after her pupillage, she developed an interest in teaching and instead opted for the world of academia in law while her peers went on to practice law.

She applied for a Masters and landed a one-year Commonwealth scholarship to pursue a Masters of Law in Development degree at Warwick in 1989, even before her admission to the Bar.

Prof Kameri-Mbote landed a teaching job on contract at the University of Nairobi when she returned in 1990. She was later be hired first as an assistant lecturer, despite having a Masters, before being promoted to a lecturer.

She pursued a post graduate Diploma in Women Law in the University of Zimbabwe in 1994, returning to teach shortly, before proceeding to Stanford University on a Fulbright Scholarship in 1995 to study for her Masters of Juridical Science and Doctor of Juridical Science.

She returned in 1999 to her lecturing position and in 2002 she was promoted to senior lecturer and Associate Professor in 2005, becoming the first woman to be appointed an associate professor of law in Kenya.

She took an unpaid leave in 2009 and it was during her break the she assisted in setting up the law school in Strathmore.

She rejoined UON in 2012 as a professor and shortly after, the deanship position became vacant. She applied and was elected in December the same year.

She has help the position for two terms which ended in December last year.

To date she attributes her success to attending good schools which instilled great values in her.

 

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