From Classroom to Supreme Court: the Story of Witty Judge Smokin Wanjala

  • SupremeCourt Judge Smokin Wanjala during the BBI ruling on Thursday, March 31.jpg
    Supreme Court Judge Smokin Wanjala during the BBI ruling on Thursday, March 31, 2022
    Supreme Court of Kenya
  • Justice Smokin Wanjala was once again in the spotlight with his witty remarks that cracked laughter at the presidential petition in the Supreme Court. 

    Kenyans have become accustomed to the captivating charm he also manifested during the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) appeal in March 2022 and the 2013 and 2017 presidential petitions

    During the 2022 presidential petitions challenging the election of President-elect William Ruto, Wanjala offered much relief from the tense sessions by creating light moments that lit the courtroom. 

    His Solomonic Wisdom analogy saw his colleagues, petitioners, respondents break into laughter after he joked whether Ruto's lawyer, Kioko Kilukumi was seemingly willing to ask his client to relinguish his victory. 

    Hon. Justice Lenaola Njagi (left) giving orders as Hon. Justice Smokin Wanjala (right) watches on at the Supreme court on August 31, 2022
    Hon. Justice Lenaola Njagi (left) giving orders as Hon. Justice Smokin Wanjala (right) watches on at the Supreme court on August 31, 2022
    Judiciary

    Kilukumi had referred to King Solomon’s decision on a case where two women claimed ownership of a newborn baby, in his presentations at the court. 

    "In King Solomon's story, one of the mother claimants was saying 'cut the baby' and other one said 'no, let her take the baby'. Would you be willing to advise...? I rest my case," Justice Wanjala stated 

    Justice Smokin Wanjala's Profile

    Wanjala was appointed to the apex court in 2011 by the late President Mwai Kibaki alongside current serving justices Mohamed Ibrahim and Njoki Ndung'u.

    Unknown to many, Wanjala has a rich background in education having been a lecturer at the University of Nairobi (UoN) School of Law for nearly two decades. 

    He left the teaching profession in 2004 before he was appointed as one of the directors of the defunct Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) now known as the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).

    His educational background contributed to his appointment as the director of Kenya Judiciary Academy (KJA) - which is tasked with the training of judges and judicial officers in the country.

    Additionally, he serves as the judicial representative to the Council of Legal Education- a position he has held since 2019.

    Just as his exemplary career in education, the judge is a distinguished academician and holds a Doctorate in Law from the University of Ghent in Belgium.

    "Justice Wanjala is a holder of a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B, Hons.) from the University of Nairobi, a Post Graduate Diploma in Law from the Kenya School of Law, a Master of Laws (LL.M) from Columbia University, New York, " his Supreme Court bio reads. 

    Hon. Justice Smokin Wanjala hearing responses to petitions at the Supreme court on September 1, 2022
    Hon. Justice Smokin Wanjala hearing responses to petitions at the Supreme court on September 1, 2022
    Judiciary

    Apart from his role at the Supreme Court, Wanjala has served in other judicial institutions which have been credited for promoting political and social reforms in the country.

    In particular, he served at the Centre for Law and Research International (CLARION) which is the body that pioneered civil education in the country.

    "He is also a member of the Advisory Board of Columbia Global Centers – Nairobi, Kenya, which is one of the nine World-Wide Regional hubs established by Columbia University to enhance research and collaboration for the benefit of humanity," the Judiciary states on its website.

    His works have over the years seen him get accolades. Wanjala is a holder of the Chief of the Order of the Burning Spear  (CBS) which was conferred to him in 2012 by President Kibaki.