- A carpenter from Kenya was on 2 September admitted to the bar to represent litigants in courts across the country
- Paul Andrew Kongani took 20 years to realise his dream of becoming an advocate
- He had to overcome several struggles, including putting his studies on hold after his dad's death
Paul Andrew Kongani first made headlines in September 2016 after appearing before the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) seeking to be Chief Justice despite having an advocate’s licence.
Three years later, he will be admitted to the bar by Chief Justice David Maraga, who beat him in the interview for the top job in the Judiciary, a dream that has taken him 20 years to achieve.
“I have been in and out of school for 20 years since I joined law school at Moi University in September 1999," Kongani was quoted by The Standard.
"I thought after 10 years, I would at least have a doctorate or something close to that. However, things changed along the way,” he added.
The father of three was forced to shelve his studies in 2004 after his father, Wawire Kongani, died while he was in his third year and had a fee balance of about R36 000.
“My mother (Petronilla Nelima) could then only afford KSh 5,000 [R700]. My clan contributed KSh 3,000 [R439] after a two-year reassurance, and my elder brother R439,” he narrated.
Determined to make ends meet, he started a carpentry shop with only R88.
His mother eventually managed to raise KSh 50,000 [R7 300] for his fees in January 2007, however, he used it as capital for his carpentry work and eventually managed to put together R26 000.
In 2007, he went back for his law degree and graduated in 2011, and a year after graduation, he went to Nairobi hoping to get into the Kenya School of Law, but was told some units had changed.
“When I submitted my application for law school in 2012, I was told the system had changed and I had to go back to university to redo some units. Labour law had changed," he said.
"I had to wait until January 2014 for Moi University to get accreditation but it was not. The dean told me they had accredited Riara University and I got in with the 2015 intake. In 2016, I joined KSL until 2017,” he added.
According to Kongani, who failed some units at KSL and had to wait for re-sits, the cause of mass failure at he institution is due to lack of relevant study materials that address curriculum needs.
He says he has at least 10 volumes of study and revision materials, which he has published to help students pass their law diploma.
“What we were given to study was 80% outdated material. I decided to come up with updated material, especially in conveyancing, commercial law and civil procedure,” he said.
Although he is focused on running his life as an advocate and publisher, he is still running his carpentry business and plans to go for the CJ’s seat again.
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