Mathenge Mukundi when he was admitted to the Bar on Friday, becoming the first advocate of the Rastafarian faith

When Peter Tosh sang ‘Legalize It’ in 1977 in response to the ongoing victimization of Rastafari and their culture by authorities throughout the world (the track was banned when released in Jamaica) he did not have in mind the freedom that the Rastafari community could have decades later upon their admission of one of their own to the Bar.

Last week, Mathenge Mukundi, was sworn in as a lawyer by Chief Justice Maraga at the Supreme Court building, becoming Kenya’s first advocate of the Rastafarian faith.

“As a diehard human rights and fundamental freedoms enthusiast, I will work towards fighting for the rights of minorities and marginalised groups,” he told a leading media company in Nairobi.

Mr Mukundi did his KCSE in 2012 at Othaya Boys High School before joining Kenyatta University for a law degree.

“According to our policy to give opportunities to diverse members of the society, Mr Mathenge Mukundi, a practicing Rastafarian, did pupillage with us last year and was admitted to the Bar as an advocate yesterday. Congratulations to him,” Kenya’s National Council for Law Reporting tweeted.

Mr Mukundi was admitted alongside 197 new advocates who included Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed.

Mr Mukundi’s admission to the Bar is historic as most countries including neighbour Uganda do not allow Rastafarians to become advocates.

But liberalism in the conservative law practice is not just growing in Kenya but also other countries. In Malawi, new President Lazarus Chakwera appointed an Attorney-General Chikosa Silungwe , who trended on the social media, not because of his vast law experience, but rather his dreadlocked hairstyle.

Malawi’s new Attorney General Dr Chikosa Silungwe
Flag of Malawi

Rastafari is an Africa-centred religion, which can be traced to Jamaica in the 1930s after Haile Selassie I (1892-1975) — referred to as the king of kings, lord of lords, the conquering lion of the tribe of Judah — was coronated as King of Ethiopia.

Many of their teachings are also developed from the ideas of Jamaican activist Marcus Mosiah Garvey.


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