What you need to know:
- The Law Society of Kenya boss is fighting many battles in court, office and on social media.
- Mr Havi has announced that he will run for the Westlands parliamentary seat in next year's polls.
We know that Law Society of Kenya (LSK) President Nelson Havi was admitted to the bar in 2003 at the age of 25.
We are, however, not sure if or when he was admitted to a bar, though a video he released in August 2019 — in which he showed his whisky bottle opening ritual — illustrated that he is a man who knows his drink and his way around a bar.
And as things stand, the man who heads Kenya’s bar association might be in need of a stiff drink in a bar. A leadership row is fermenting at LSK that made him a guest of the State on Tuesday.
An altercation at the LSK headquarters on Monday did not age too well as it resulted in the society’s embattled CEO, Ms Mercy Wambua, filing an assault complaint against Mr Havi.
Through a court order, Mr Havi managed to stop the State corkscrew from opening the bottle of prosecution upon him — and not everyone toasted to that, at least not the Director of Public Prosecutions who issued a statement to complain about that order.
Mr Havi had in a TV interview later that day revealed that he had a staggering number of problems: That LSK accounts are still under the control of former leaders; that there are senior figures in the Jubilee administration who are bent on derailing the operations of the society and that he was being handled by police two jurisdictions away from where the LSK offices are, among other things.
He painted a picture of problems pouring in barrels since he took over as the LSK boss in March 2020.
“We are running the law society insofar as our responsibilities are concerned, but we do not have access to the (bank) accounts,” he lamented.
If the law is an ass, one might argue that Mr Havi as the head of the lawyers’ society needs reinforced hind legs to help him have the legendary kick of an ass.
He needs it because it appears that his detractors are growing in number and determination every day. When he is not fighting for his turf at LSK, he is squaring it out with one person or another on Twitter.
Sometimes, he is trying to be a catalyst for political change, just like Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara, with a green military-type suit to boot.
However, some observers think Che set the bar so high that Mr Havi’s aping attempt only ended with him causing a mere storm in a tea cup and earning the moniker Chai (Tea) Guevara in the process. It is a nickname he took in his stride, calling himself as much when he tweeted a photo of him taking tea last December.
Speaking of tweets, hardly a day passes before Mr Havi lands a kick or two on someone on the social media platform. On Wednesday, for instance, he was aiming at the Federation of Women Lawyers (Fida): “Fida Kenya is a big shame to legal profession in Kenya. In the eyes of this organisation, everything is perceived from the prism of the female genitalia and not the brain.”
Two days earlier, he was warring with ODM secretary-general Edwin Sifuna and it degenerated into threats of physical harm and forceful breaking of voices. A spirited warrior on Twitter, Mr Havi has used the platform to tackle Babu Owino, Njeri Thorne, Robert Alai, to name but a tot.
Mr Havi lost his father during post-election clashes in 1992 and his mother revealed last year that Havi, her second born son, pursued law so that he could prosecute his father’s killers.
With his term ending in February 2022, and with his sights set on vying for the Westlands MP seat next year, he is on course towards replicating the stories of former LSK bosses like Mutula Kilonzo, Amos Wako, Paul Muite, and Okong’o’Mogeni who later became legislators.
Will that bring him closer to getting justice for his father?
Among the Maragoli, the Luhya sub-tribe Mr Havi comes from, there is the folk tale told about Nunda, a cat that was welcomed by an old man as a tiny, timid feline but grew into a 12-headed monster that swallowed everything in the world, including the old man who adopted it.
But the man’s son had escaped and returned to cut all of Nunda’s 12 heads and eventually freed all the people and livestock it had swallowed.
Mr Havi isn’t exactly fighting the Nunda in folklore but he has many fights in his hands: Fights against the government and its BBI law amendment process said to be a road to peaceful polls; fights for the control of LSK and fights against real and perceived enemies online. It won’t take long to know who will bottle the other.