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Late judge's love for nature and history leaves precious legacy

National
 Justice (Rtd) Andrew Hayanga. He built a museum and a library at his home next to Lake Victoria. [Isaiah Gwengi, Standard]

A neat plantation of indigenous and exotic trees and flowers welcome you.

A soothing breeze from Lake Victoria sweeps and rattling dry leaves on the driveway evince the serenity at the home of the retired judge Andrew Hayanga in Misori village, West Yimbo.

Justice (Rtd) Hayanga died last Tuesday at the Aga Khan Hospital in Mombasa, aged 78, after developing a heart problem, according to his wife Christine Alice. But even as his family prepares for his final farewell, the former judge leaves a rich legacy. His home is a source of identity, history and knowledge.

Under a shade of trees is the museum that explains the late lawyer's love for nature, conservation and history.

Alfred Ochieng, a worker at the home for more than a decade, says Hayanga had a passionate attachment to nature and would spend a lot of his time interacting with nature and history.

At the verandah is a pon'g - a traditional grinding stone - complete with its nyapon'g (grinder).

On the right-hand side from the main door holds displays featuring clans of Yimbo. There are traditional musical instruments and artifacts.

 Paintings of fishermen and fishing activities enrich Andrew Hayanga's museum. [Isaiah Gwengi, Standard]

There are also pictures of animals and birds especially for children who may not have seen them. Paintings of fishermen and fishing activities also enrich the museum

"There are several items here that are rich in history. The late Hayanga would always go around with the visitors as he explained to them everything," said Ochieng.

A library next to the museum holds a wide variety of books.

Hayanga's widow said the idea behind the establishment of the museum was to preserve information and traditions for future generations.

The home also takes you through a botanical journey, with most trees labelled with their scientific and local names. An orchard is also part of the conservation, where a variety of fruit trees thrive.

The late judge also leaves no doubt about his spirituality. He established a chapel within his home in memory of his parents Reuben Orinda and Pelesia Otanda. St Andrew (ACK) Chapel was consecrated by Rt Rev Simon Oketch, Bishop of Maseno North, on October 13, 2001.

Chief Justice Martha Koome last week said Justice Hayanga served diligently as a judge of the High Court for many years. "He was a distinguished jurist who delivered numerous judgments and rulings that enriched the jurisprudence of our country and contributed to the development of our legal system," she said.

CJ Koome noted that Hayanga was an exemplary jurist and a steadfast defender of justice, known for his unwavering commitment to the rule of law and the protection of human rights.

 Justice (Rtd) Andrew Hayanga established a chapel within his home in memory of his parents Reuben Orinda and Pelesia Otanda. [Isaiah Gwengi, Standard]

"An often-cited example in this regard is his landmark ruling in Domonic Arony Amolo v AG (2003), which opened the gates for victims of historical human rights abuses, during the repressive political era, to get redress after the 2002 transition by holding that the Limitation of Actions Act did not apply to constitutional causes," Koome said.

The late judge is also remembered for his ruling over a court battle over the burial of boxing Olympics gold medalist Robert Wangila in November 1994.

The battle pitting Wangila's wife and the muslim community against his mother and two men, each claiming to have fathered him, dragged on for 48 days.

Justice William Ouko of the Supreme Court said Hayanga inspired him to join the profession. "Apart from being a village mate and colleague, he was my mentor," he said.

Other lawyers from Yimbo include Justice Hannah Okwengu, PLO Lumumba, Francis Okomo, Dan Bondi and Lulu Hayanga.

Among his former classmates are the late historian Prof William Ochieng, Prof Gilbert Ogutu, Dr Obwanga Yuka, Edward Aremo and former PS Peter Wambura.

Hayanga, who has left behind three children, will be buried tomorrow.

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