A few days ago, I saw a video on social media of some men and women engaged in serious fisticuffs in what appeared to be the chamber of some Parliament. The dramatis personae were all adults of seemingly sound mind and when I read that the venue of that juvenile behaviour was allegedly the chamber of the African Parliament, I smiled and shook my head. My mind momentarily went to our own day of national disgrace of a few months ago – 7th January, 2021. I closed my phone, left social media behind and returned to the ‘flesh and blood’ reality called life. For a couple of minutes, strangely, I could not shake off the pictures of that day floating in my mind, especially the swearing in of the Speaker, the Vice-President and the President of the Republic. I found my memory’s wanderings strange because at my age, I have had the great fortune of watching all the eight swearing in ceremonies on TV. I just couldn’t put a finger on why several months after the ceremony, my mind was ruminating on the scenes I saw on TV that day. Then, eureka! My thoughts settled on the Judicial Secretary, the second female to occupy the position in this 4th Republic, and I presume, the second ever since independence. It was her first attendance at a swearing in ceremony as she had been appointed in October, 2018. She reportedly resigned from another public service institution to take up the Judicial Secretary position as she could not have held two portfolios within the public sector. In my thoughts, I remembered her meekly and mildly taking out sheets of paper containing the various oaths of office from a black portfolio for the Chief Justice to administer to the Republic’s top three VVIPs. The thought that a grown person in full legal regalia will be part of a ceremony just to turn over a sheet of paper and a pen to His Lordship, the Chief Justice in his white-gloved hands seemed so feudal to me but, “it is tradition”! Perhaps, if we modify and modernize the pomp and ceremony, it might “open the floodgates” for our “traditions” to be diluted, dented and disregarded. We have bought this tag line before, haven’t we? “Opening the floodgates” is the new euphemism for continuity. It has been adopted by contented public servants who are just fine with the way things are and wishes them to remain so. That way, they need to do very little and our society stays stagnant for centuries while for other countries, the notion of ‘opening their floodgates’ is what has led to their innovation and advancement in all spheres of life. That is why for us, a child’s eagerness to go to school is not as relevant as the type of natural hair he carries on his head. We thank God for a forward-looking judgment that has saved the day and saved us from ourselves. But I digress.
- Who is a judicial secretary and what role do judicial secretaries play?
The current Judicial Secretary was appointed as such in her capacity as a lawyer of standing on the roll of lawyers in October, 2018. In less than two years, that is, in August 2020, she was appointed as a judge of the Court of Appeal. Now, Her Ladyship had to ditch her own ceremonial gown for the drab black gown and collaret worn by lawyers for the national swearing in ceremony.