A good man has left us. Former judge of the Court of Appeal Justice (Rtd) Daniel Kennedy Sultan Aganyanya breathed his last on Friday, January 17, just a fortnight away from his 82nd birthday.
To those who knew him, Justice Aganyanya was a man of few words, a kind soul, and a lover of humanity. He spent half of his adult life dispensing justice. Born in a poor family in a small village called Kisasi in Tiriki land, Aganyanya refused to let his physical challenges stop him from advancing to the highest levels of the Kenyan Judiciary.
I first met Justice Aganyanya five years ago at his Cheptulu home in Vihiga. Back then, I was a rookie reporter, fresh from college. Local journalists had been invited to cover the launch of his book, The Judicial Purge 2003 That Never Was. There was no fanfare, no hype. It was a clique of journalists and a man ready to pour out his heart.
I don't remember most of the things he said during that event, except this one: “The world would be a better place for all of us if only everyone said no to corruption."
"Do not eat twice," he said. “Do not ask for something extra on top of what is legally yours."
He explored this at length in his 55-page book. It's the chronicles of a man sacrificed on the very altar of fighting graft.
Long before the formation of the Ringera commission that was tasked with cleaning Kenya’s Judiciary, Justice Aganyanya had already gone public about the rot in the Judiciary.
He wanted someone to crack the whip. And he knew how: he approached three different chief justices of his time to discuss how to end corruption within the Judiciary. Sadly, as he recounts in the book, his efforts went west.
To his shock, it would turn out that he had just backed the wrong horse. Instead, he was branded a black sheep by the cartels who wanted him hounded out of the corridors of justice.
In one of the chapters of the book, Aganyanya tells how he came to learn that his name was on the Ringera list.
“I looked quite foolish when I came to learn that my name was on the list of corrupt judges through an announcement on the radio and televisions," he wrote.
Justice Aganyanya, however, refused to go down without a fight. He knew he was innocent.
For almost one year, Justice Aganyanya religiously appeared before the tribunal, which was headed by retired Chief Justice Majid Cockar.
The tribunal dismissed all the 11 charges filed against him. Accusations against him were found to be baseless, hearsay and rumours.
During his tenure on the bench, he endeavoured to help the less fortunate and to train those who cared to follow his footsteps.
Justice Aganyanya has left an indelible mark! Let us not cry for him but instead let’s cry for ourselves. Fare thee well, fighter. Adieu Justice Aganyanya.
[The writer is a Broadcast Journalist at BBC Africa.]