Furthering constitutions, birthing peace
Ambani, J Osogo
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It is a singular pleasure for me to write this Foreword for this liber amicorum, this book of friends, in honour of Professor Yash Pal Ghai. I have known Professor Ghai for almost six decades. I joined Dar es salaam University College in 1963. I was part of the first intake of the University of East Africa which consisted of Makerere University College, Nairobi University and Dar es Salaam University College. Before that, the colleges were affiliates to University of London. When I joined the university, the campus at Dar es Salaam consisted only one faculty, the Faculty of Law. Makerere and Nairobi accommodated medicine and engineering respectively. The college community was very small. The total number of students was less than one hundred and our class was about forty. The teaching staff consisted of basically five lecturers. Professor Ghai was the youngest lecturer at around twenty-five years of age. I recall a number of students were older than Ghai at the time, and some were his age mates as we had started off our childhood with the customary duties of herding cattle before starting school. I was two years younger than Ghai and in our custom he was my age mate. Professor Ghai, though our age mate, commanded the respect of a teacher, but was also welcoming and approachable as a friend. The mutual respect and comity that developed between the student body and Professor Ghai was in many ways the bedrock of his appeal as a teacher. The contributions to this volume about the time, including two chapters from two other former students, Professor Issa G Shivji, and former Kenyan Chief Justice Dr Willy Mutunga, attest to this. The 1960s was a period of intense political activity in Africa and the world as a whole. We, the students at Dar es Salaam, were active in politics, both on campus and beyond. We seized every opportunity to organise boycotts and demonstrations. We even organised a boycott of the wearing of academic gowns in class as a colonial relic. I was one of the student leaders and spent a lot of time politicking at the expense of my studies. Professor Ghai was one of the lecturers who consistently cautioned me to devote time on my studies or else I would fail. I owe him a lot. ~16~ Foreword Since our class was small in number we had a lot of time to interact with lecturers in class and tutorials. Since Ghai was our age mate we often interacted with him in heated debates. When I was Prime Minister, Professor Ghai visited the University of Dar es Salaam. He was present on a day I had a session with university students. I faced a barrage of tough questions, particularly on governance and human rights. After the session I invited him to my office. He complimented me for the way I handled the session. He said he was amazed that I answered the question without showing anger though some of the questions were very provocative. I reminded him that we used to do the same to him when he was our lecturer but he did not lose his temper. Professor Ghai should be proud of his product. A lot of people he taught went on to render good service in academia and public service, the likes of Professor Shivji and Chief Justice Mutunga. In my class alone we had people like Barnabas Samatta, former Chief Justice of Tanzania and Damian Lubuva who was Attorney General, Minister of Justice and later Judge of Appeal in Tanzania. From 1966 to 1970, Professor Ghai was a member of the East Africa Council for Legal Education and thus was involved in laying the foundations of legal education in the region. I recall then the strong commitment to building a cadre of conscientious lawyers that infused Ghai’s teaching back then. The expectations and promise of an independent Africa drove the vision of the law school at the time. Obviously the close involvement of the Chancellor, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, in the intellectual life of the university had a deep impact in the ethos of teaching and learning then. Professor Ghai’s involvement in constitution-making is easily his greatest contribution to legal scholarship as well as social justice and rule of law. In fact, his first engagement in constitution-making was as a consultant to the Kawawa Commission on the One-Party State in Tanzania in 1965. Almost five decades later, between April 2012 and April 2014, I served as Chair of the Constitution Review Commission of Tanzania, a role not dissimilar to Professor Ghai’s own as Chair of the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission (2000-4). As a Commission, we invited Professor Ghai once again to advise on the process as we sought the views of the Tanzanian people on their constitutional future.
- Law