Kenya’s Chief Justice Maraga to grace Diaspora meet in Dallas

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In Summary: The 2018 Kenyan Diaspora conference will take place during this Memorial Day weekend; May 25-26, 2018 at the University of Texas in Dallas (UTD).  Convened under the theme: “The Diaspora Renaissance – Optimizing engagement with the Motherland”, it will be graced by Kenya’s Chief Justice David Maraga. To any conference organizer, hosting Justice David Maraga, aka DM is not only a feat but a coup!  For starters, when it comes to matters of the law, Chief Justice Maraga takes no prisoners. The no nonsense Kenyan Chief Justice David Maraga presides over a bench that has distinguished itself as a fiercely independent but fair arbiter of the most contentious issues in Kenya. More than anybody else, both President Uhuru Mugai Kenyatta and his political nemesis now turned ally Raila Omolo Odinga has ever tasted the sweet nectar and bitter pill administered by the Justice Maraga bench. Justice Maraga’s bench was the first African court, and only the fourth in the world, to ever annul a presidential election. His court cancelled the election victory last September of Uhuru Kenyatta in a petition filed by Raila Odinga and ordered a fresh election. He drew the ire of the state and won the hearts of the opposition.  For that ruling, his record is now etched in legal, political, historical, and scholarly accounts around the world. After the fresh elections, Raila again ran to his court challenging the results and sought another cancellation. Raila, perhaps, thought and expected it would be business as usual. He was to be disappointed. He was not to be twice lucky. The same Chief Justice Maraga’s bench dismissed his petition and upheld the results as lawful. Odinga was rattled. Some less initiated political pundits quickly penned an obituary for the veteran leader. They were wrong. Uhuru celebrated. Overnight, his yesterday’s villain became a re-born hero and the rightful head of the temple of justice! For those two court rulings, Chief Justice Maraga is loved as much as he is loathed. But for winning a great deal of love and hate in almost equal measure from either side of the political divide in Kenya, he made his bench the pride of Africa and the entire world; one of the most venerated, distinguished, and eminent in contemporary times. Yet, in Dallas, Chief Justice David Maraga is coming to listen to challenges the Kenyan Diaspora face when dealing with courts in Kenya and jointly thresh out solutions to overcome them. As Samuel Muwanguzi writes, without a doubt, the coming to Dallas by Chief Justice David Maraga to grace the 2018 Kenya Diaspora conference as guest of honor is more than just extraordinary. It is as historic in its context as it is in its moment. Be there or be square!

The iconic Chief Justice of Kenya David Maraga

Atlanta, Georgia—all roads will lead to Dallas for a historic Kenyan Diaspora conference this Memorial Day weekend; from Friday to Saturday, May   25-2 6, 2018   at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) in Richardson, Texas, organizers announced here last week. The physical address of the venue is located at 800 West Campbell Rd, Richardson, TX 75080-3021. Convened under the theme: “The Diaspora Renaissance – Optimizing engagement with the Motherland”, the conference is organized through the collaboration of Kenyans in America and their affiliated organizations that form the Association of Kenyan Diaspora Organizations (AKDOI) and others. The 2018 Kenya Diaspora conference will be graced by Kenya’s Chief Justice David Maraga.  To any conference organizer, hosting Justice David Maraga, aka DM is not only a feat but a coup!  For starters, when it comes to matters of the law, Chief Justice Maraga takes no prisoners. The no nonsense Kenyan Chief Justice David Maraga presides over a bench that has distinguished itself as a fiercely independent but fair arbiter of the most contentious issues in Kenya. More than anybody else, President Uhuru Mugai Kenyatta and his political nemesis now turned ally Raila Omolo Odinga has ever tasted the sweet nectar and bitter pill administered by the Justice Maraga’s bench. Justice Maraga’s bench was the first African court, and only the fourth in the world, to ever annul a presidential election.

The collage of President Uhuru Mugai Kenyatta and Raila Omolo Odinga

Chief Justice David Maraga’s Supreme Court of Kenya cancelled the election victory last September of Uhuru Kenyatta in a petition filed by Raila Odinga and ordered a fresh election. He drew the ire of the state and won the hearts of the opposition. For that ruling, his record is now etched in legal, political, historical, and scholarly accounts around the world. After the fresh elections, Raila again ran to his court challenging the results and sought another cancellation. Raila Odinga, perhaps, thought and expected it would be business as usual. He was to be disappointed. He was not to be twice lucky. The same Chief Justice Maraga’s bench dismissed his petition and upheld the results as lawful. Odinga was rattled. Some of the less initiated political pundits even penned Odinga’s obituary. They were wrong. Uhuru celebrated. Overnight, his yesterday’s villain became a re-born hero and rightful head of the temple of justice! For those court rulings, Chief Justice Maraga is loved as much as he is loathed. But for winning a great deal of love and hate in almost equal measure from either side of the political divide in Kenya, he made his bench the pride of Africa and the entire world; one of the most venerated, distinguished, and eminent in contemporary times. Yet, in Dallas, Chief Justice David Maraga is coming to listen to challenges the Kenyan Diaspora face when dealing with Kenya’s courts and jointly thresh out solutions to overcome them. Without a doubt, the coming to Dallas by Chief Justice David Maraga to grace the 2018 Kenya Diaspora conference as guest of honor is more than just extraordinary. It is as historic in its context as it is in its moment.

Kenya’s Supreme Court justices in Nairobi last September after they delivered a detailed ruling laying out their reasons for annulling the August 8 presidential election in Kenya. (Photo by AFP)

The Association of Kenyan Diaspora Organizations (AKDOI) is working collaboratively with the Kenyan Women in the US (KWITU) to organize the 2018 Diaspora conference. The primary focus of KWITU is to advance the common welfare of the Kenyan women in the Diaspora. The Kenya’s Diaspora has always been part and parcel of Kenya’s growth and continues to play a critical role in Kenya’s economic, social and political development. For all intents and purposes, it is an economic powerhouse that directly and indirectly contributes in the upwards of 7% of Kenya’s $63 Billion GDP.

Governor Patrick Njoroge of the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK)

The Kenyan Diaspora sends over $1.57 billion   to the motherland annually, according to the November 2017 Central Bank of Kenya records. Mr. Patrick Njoroge, Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) told a press conference on November 24, 2017 that Kenya’s Diaspora remittances account for the largest source of foreign currency inflows into the largest economy in East Africa, ahead of tea, tourism, horticulture and coffee exports. The total remittances for the 10-month period (January to October 2017) stood at Sh161.9 billion ($1.57 billion), compared to Sh146.6 billion ($1.42 billion) in the same period in 2016.  Kenyans in North America continue to send home the bulk of the remittances, accounting for 56 per cent of total remittances by October 2017 ahead of Europe at 30 per cent and the rest of the world at 14 per cent. On average, Kenyans in the US send home more than Sh10 billion a month, the latest CBK figures show.

Ms. Lilly Richards, conference co-MC and founder and President of KWITU

“The Kenyan Diaspora christened the 48% County for a good reason, but Kenyans need to show unity and shade the fragmentation stigma that is often associated with Kenyans in the Diaspora”, said Lilly Richards, conference co-MC and founder and President of KWITU, a 12000 member-strong women’s group. “We have a tremendous opportunity to work together as the Diaspora to expand and grow as a community,” the women leader said.

Dr. Juliana Mwose, Secretary of the Association of Kenyan Diaspora Organizations (AKDOI)

The Secretary of the Association of Kenyan Diaspora Organizations (AKDOI) Dr. Juliana Mwose said that during the conference, business leaders, religious leaders, educators and academicians, youth leaders, government officials and artists will have the opportunity to meet and engage with the Kenyan Diaspora and with each other to purposely find avenues through which they can thrive in the Diaspora and also directly engage in the development of their motherland Kenya. “Never before has a seating Supreme Court Chief Justice addressed a gathering of such scale outside Kenya and the Kenyan Diaspora is very happy at the opportunity to engage directly with the chief Justice on a wide range of issues that they care about, the secretary of AKDOI said. “It never gets better than this,”, Dr. Juliana Mwose said, adding, “this is a rare occasion for the Diaspora community to engage and share directly with the head of a co-equal branch of government represented by Justice Maraga.”

Mr. David Ochwangi, Chair of the Association of Kenyan Diaspora Organizations (AKDOI).

The conference will bring together business leaders from across multiple industries from both the United States and Kenya including banking, real estate, tourism, e-commerce, entertainment, money transfer as well as multiple vendors on a common platform to exchange ideas and create new partnerships. “It is a marketing bonanza for those who will attend that will endure for a long time to come,” Mr. David Ochwangi, Chair of AKDOI said. “We are building a strong coalition between the Diaspora and the business community that we hope to grow and sustain for the foreseeable future,” he said, adding, “This is an economic movement where hope to redirect the Diaspora’s capital flows in an organized corporate platform,” Mr.  Ochwangi said with unbridled anticipation.

Mr.  David Ochwangi told the EADM that the conference is expected to help the Kenyan Diaspora advance the narrative of economic empowerment and development to a wider audience beyond the conference delegates.  “The participation of our dignitaries will also add much more credence to this effort,” Mr. Ochwangi said.

“I believe that this will be an eye opener to many Kenyans in the United States about the abundant business opportunities available to us including import and export,” said Dr. Jacob Ongaki, a Dallas based finance professor who has taken keen interest in e-commerce and AGOA. “With respect to entertainment, this year’s Kenya Diaspora conference is poised to be one of the most entertaining event for the Kenya Diaspora in Dallas in a long while, George Mbugua, host of the popular online “the Prudentials Show” and conference MC mused. “We will be having a great time and we are ready to put up a great show,” the celebrated entertainer said.  Casmir Masega, a renowned community organizer and entertainment guru based in Dallas said: “This conference is a great fusion that brings together various interests from across America and Kenya to the city of Dallas, and don’t forget this is Memorial Day weekend and all Roads lead to Dallas.” Mr. Casmir Masega said the conference offers a great opportunity to discuss serious business during the day and wrap up with a memorable evening of an after-parties organized by our entertainment teams in a friendly atmosphere devoid of conflict,” he said. From the Kenyan homeland, great performers including Kenya’s sensational country music singer Kepha Bwonda aka ‘Jim Reeves’ or ‘Pharry –K’ and Christine Apondi, among others are flying in to rock the house. “The event will not only be very entertaining but will be a voice for all of us – ‘One Diaspora one Voice’--a mantra whose time to manifest has arrived, Jimmy Onkangi, a Dallas-based Kenyan opinion leader said. He said that as a community, Kenyans have a lot to offer and all that is holding us back is ourselves. Look at other communities such as the Israelis, Ethiopians, Indians, Chinese, who have prospered through unity of purpose; we need to refocus and reconstitute ourselves as a united movement to realize the untapped potential in our ranks by coming together to thrive,” Mr. Jimmy Onkangi said. He added: “This high-profile conference attended by Chief Justice David Maraga clearly helps us to raise the bar for us,” he said.

Kenya’s Chief Justice David Maraga

Meanwhile, Chief Justice Maraga has extended the Kenyan Diaspora an unprecedented opportunity to share with him the challenges they face when dealing with the Judiciary (Kenya’s courts) by filling out a survey highlighting issues the Diaspora wants to discuss with the Chief Justice. The confidential survey purposely created to provide interested parties a platform to share feedback with Justice Maraga will allow him to respond directly at the Conference. The ongoing survey, which opened ahead of the Conference, seeks views from the Kenyan Diaspora who have filed cases in Kenyan Courts, but their cases have taken too long to be resolved. Such cases include but are not limited to adoption, land, property ownership, fraud, and others. To all those who have filed complaints in court but do not seem to visualize an end in sight or those willing to compliment the judiciary have an excellent opportunity to get involved, the organizers said in a statement. The survey is at the link below:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1svGWG4MlioKZja9xCH71Vbg3taGg7Tz73GbgYuJoaWM/edit

To buy tickets & to reserve vendor booths, organizers are encouraging all those interested to follow the link below:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2018-kenya-diaspora-conference-dallas-tx-tickets-42398673574

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