Bungoma carpenter becomes court advocate after 20 years in law school

Bungoma carpenter becomes court advocate after 20 years in law school

A carpenter from Bungoma was among lawyers who on Monday, September 2, were admitted to the bar to represent litigants in courts across the country.

Paul Andrew Kongani first made headlines in September 2016, after appearing before 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.

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Bungoma carpenter to be court advocate after spending 20 years in law school

Paul Andrew Kongani first made headlines in September 2016, after appearing before JSC seeking to be Chief Justice despite not having an advocate’s licence. Photo: The Standard.
Source: UGC

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“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.

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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 KSh 250,000 (N873,385).

“My mother (Petronilla Nelima) could then only afford KSh 5,000 (N17,468). My clan contributed KSh 3,000 (N10,480) after a two-year reassurance, and my elder brother KSh 3,000,” he narrated.

Determined to make ends meet, he started a carpentry shop with KSh 600 (N2,000).

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Bungoma carpenter to be court advocate after spending 20 years in law school

Kongani was forced to shelve his studies in 2004 after his father died while he was in his third year and had a fee balance of about KSh 250,000. Photo: The Standard.
Source: UGC

His mother eventually managed to raise KSh 50,000 (N174,677) for his fees in January 2007, however, he used it as capital for his carpentry work and eventually, managed to put together KSh 180,000 (N628,837).

This was after his classmates raised KSh 55,000 (N192,145), a well-wisher gave him KSh 30,000 (N104,806) and a KSh 40,000 (N139,742) he raised from his carpentry business, which footed his academic fees.

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In 2007, he went back for his law degree and graduated in 2011 and a year after graduation, he came to Nairobi hoping to get into the Kenya School of Law but was told some units had changed.

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“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 the institution is due to lack of relevant study materials that address curriculum needs.

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Bungoma carpenter to be court advocate after spending 20 years in law school

Three years later, Konganii will be admitted to the bar by Chief Justice David Maraga, who beat him in the interview for the top job in the Judiciary. Photo: Citizen TV.
Source: UGC

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.

Meanwhile, a Nigerian man identified as Gabriel Akhuetie has narrated his experience while trying to gain admission into the university. The man shared his story while celebrating his graduation from Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria.

The young man had revealed that he called his certificate from the university on Thursday, May 16. He explained that looking at the piece of paper reminded him of how difficult it was for him to gain admission.

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