About a decade ago, Joshua Odhiambo Nyamori led a successful one-week protest which saw the grabbed famous Taifa Park in Kisumu reverted to the public.
Together with peers, they mobilized residents to boycott products of companies which had been alleged to be behind the grabbing of the park sitting on a one-acre parcel along Mosque Road.
This was after the investor brought down all the trees in the park and begun to fence it off in preparation for the construction of a shopping mall.
And after this success, the youth’s attempts to sue the perpetrators of the grabbing failed before it kicked off, after all lawyers in Kisumu and its environs declined to represent them following claims that some influential politicians were behind the grabbing.
Even though the youths achieved their mission to revert the park to the public, they felt their mission was not accomplished as justice was not served to the perpetrators.
“We felt betrayed and we wished we had a lawyer among us,” Nyamori said in an interview with Lake Region Bulletin.
Nyamori the advocate
Fast forward to July 3, 2020, and the village boy was lined up among hundreds of advocates who were admitted to the bar by the then Chief Justice David Maraga.
When the writer caught up with him at his Joshua Odhiambo Nyamori Advocates offices located at Tumaini Mall in Kisumu’s Nyalenda Estate, the 45 year old was full of life, ready to take his street battles to the bar.
“I realized many of our street demonstrations ended without justice being served, because victims of the injustices do not get a chance to have their dignity restored,” he said.
Born and raised in Kisumu, Nyamori, a third born in a family of five went through Arya Primary School and Kisumu Boys High School before joining Maseno University where he graduated with a degree in Education Arts (Economic and Business Studied) in the year 2000.
He did not however take up teaching job, and was consumed into activism which saw him join camps which mobilized the public to demonstrate against social and political injustices.
“My vision was to study law, and when I missed admission, I decided not to join the university, as there were no parallel programs at the time,” he said, adding that his father convinced him to undertake the education course, and later pursue his dreams as the parents could not raise fee to fund his pursuit of law study outside the country, as was the case with people who failed to get university admission into their preferred courses.
Initial judicial experience
The former Maseno University student leader would then join his parents’ business, where he horned his skills in law. His father was a lawyer, and Nyamori had the opportunity to grasp some knowledge through making good use of the father’s library.
And in 2013 after his street protests failed to yield much fruits, he decided to join the University of Nairobi and registered for a Law degree course.
Four years later, he successfully completed the course, before joining the Kenya School of Law, where he completed early this year and was admitted to the bar.
Having withheld his activism roles during the period of his law pursuit, Nyamori, now a ‘learned friend’ is back to the battle, but not in the streets any more.
His mission now, he says, is to reawaken all the land grabbing cases which he unsuccessfully pursued through the street protests.
First court appearance as an advocate
In his first case at a Magistrates Court in Kisumu, Nyamori defended a young man who had been charged with ‘intention to commit crime’ after he was arrested together with other youths while demonstrating over grabbed land at Kanyakwar.
“Kanyakwar is one of the areas where land has turned from being a factor of production to a trigger for physical and court battles. And the situation was caused by rogue council authorities who meddled with land allocation for their personal interests,” he said.
By mid-November 2021, Nyamori had already registered 40 files, with 18 already filed in court in regards to injustices committed against the vulnerable.
“Many of them are land grabbing, unfair job losses, and other social issues in which the powerful take advantage of the less fortunate,” he said.
Where it all begun
Nyamori’s activism dates back to his time as a student at Kisumu Boys’ High School, where he says he got the name ‘students’ advocate’ following his active participation in presenting students’ plights.
“At one point, we reminded the teachers of the provisions of the Education Act which outlawed corporal punishment, and the teacher agreed with us,” he said.
This was reinforced during his time at Maseno University, where he joined student politics and was elected the Chair of the Students’ Union.
“The 1990s and early 2000s were critical in the country’s political landscape as there were agitations for regime change and reforms. We got sucked into the waves, and that is how my interest to fight injustice developed,” he said.
Today, his social media posts do not betray him. He is not afraid of confronting anyone who he feels is a threat to justice.
This has cost him friends though, as he claims that people do not want to be seen in his company lest they are associated with his perceived radical utterances,
But he does not care, claiming he is at peace with his conscious.
The big question is what it will take him to return all the public land grabbed by individuals and entities within Kisumu County.