A Kenyan’s guide to the complex legal language; in Kenyanese.

By Gloria Mwaniga

Of law Jargon, complex language and the Kenyans on Twitter.

Achebe once rightfully said that Proverbs are the palm oil with which stories are eaten. That might be so in Nigeria, but in Kenya, legal jargon is the palm oil with which our long wait during elections has been broken.

One wouldn’t really blame us since we have had more than our fair share of politics. Live hearings , failed election equipment and a very complex election where, unlike before what we are used to, we had to vote for  six different positions.

Justice came to Kenya in the form of a studded former activist; his nose pinching assistant and recently a young, attractive and intelligent daughter of one Mutula kilonzo (is it any wonder he rears lions instead of dogs?)

Not only have we had to wait for  six days for presidential results to be announced (okay the figures on our  TV  screens were  constantly the same) but we have had to watch for days unending , as lawyers explained, in very complex terms, why the presidential petition had to be accepted or rejected.

Here are some terms that as a enyan, you need to write down:

  1. 1.    Amicus

We were promptly invited into the courtrooms by one Amicus Curiae, aka Our chief justice.

He that is ‘a friend of the court’ sent many Kenyans on a wild word tour from whence the following new terminologies were created.

AMICUS SOTAE- A broke friend.


AMICUS STRONGHOLDAE- A friend of TharaKa Nithi (remember waiting  for the votes from this stronghold to be counted?)



A couple of days ago, while watching the election petition, a friend casually remarked that as Kenyans we ought to accept the complex nature of the tyranny of numbers. Okay? So seer Mutahi Ngunyi (who I hear has suddenly developed wings since his exactly prediction a few weeks back) during a Solomonic moment, taught  us a new ‘voca’ that is spread across our political discourses like the proverbial beans in githeri.

Tyranny of numbers apparently means ; in a layman’s’ language , the domination of numbers.


This was another term commonly used in court. It means case studies from countries that have had similar rulings.(e.g if Zimbabweans have decided to use the biometric voter registration , they  could look at the Kenyan  jurisprudence). Get it?

  1. Cordeshians.

  This is a name given to those supporting the Cord coalition. They are presently thought to be causing a lot of Ndrama nd Findeo in the Amicus Strongholdae of the Cord Coalition (just like the kardashians that they are named from.)

  1. 5.     My Lords, My Lady / My Lady, My Lordship or (whoever comes first)

This was how those in court (with the obvious exception of Nazleen Omar) addressed the bench of judges. These were indeed Lords and Ladies since they managed to deliver a unanimous decision in a whooping three minutes. Huh?

  1. 6.     Nyanza si Kenya.

This was a phrase made by a weeping Cordashian after the historic ruling of the Chief Justice.

  1. 7.     Kethi Kilonzo aka youthful Trendifilova aka Amicus Afrocog-ae aka anythingelsekenyansarecallingher.

So, the young lass who put a consistent smile on the face of the Chief Justice(I promise I noticed it) has become something of an overnight celebrity. She has many face book pages opened in her honor;  Numerous  letters streaming into media houses asking for her hand(I advise such people to visit the kilonzo and kilonzo advocates – ps, it’s a  lion-guarded  law firm) .

 There are also others professing that she is surely the first Kenyan female Chief Justice (Okay, Kenyans please stop being so overly dramatic here).

So, there you have it dear reader….now you are a true wordsmith, And whats more?  you can become a friend of my blog: that will make you  my Amicus blogga-e or something like that. Right?  www.glominage.wordpress.com



Author: Gloria Mwaniga Minage

Phenomenal woman. that's me

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