Justice Martha Karambu Koome made history as the first female Chief Justice designate after the Judicial Service Commission nominated her unanimously.
Despite being one of the boldest and brilliant legal minds in the country, Justice Koome was not an obvious choice for the CJ post.
Born in 1960 in a polygamous family, Justice Koome experienced a humble upbringing as a daughter of a peasant farmer from Kithiu village in Meru County.
During her interview for the Chief Justice post, she opened up on how her humble upbringing prepared her leadership roles.
“My leadership orientation began early as the 8th born in the family of 18 children.
“As my mother struggled to put food on the table, I started mimicking her and began devising ways on how I can help her raise the family. I learnt the spirit of hard work from her ,” she told the JSC panel.
And with 33 years of experience in legal practice, hers is a journey of defying odds and daring to achieve excellence when least expected.
With a history of excellence in the legal profession and many leadership roles she has held in the country, Justice Koome might cut an image of an academic genius, but she wasn’t.
Justice Koome graduated from the University of Nairobi (UoN) in 1986, but she didn’t get a First-Class honour. Neither did she score a Second Class Upper Division nor Second Class Lower Division honours.
She got a Pass, and that’s all she needed to rise ranks and become the best in a contest with professors.
She would proceed to further her studies by pursuing Masters in Law in 2010 at the University of London.
Trained as a family lawyer with a keen interest in children, Justice Koome was recently recognised as the UN Person of the Year by the United Nations.
Before becoming a judge, she practised law for 15 years and amassing a cumulative experience of 33 years in the legal profession.
She was appointed a judge in the family division in 2003.
She also served as a council member at the Law Society of Kenya when Chief Justice emeritus Willy Mutunga was the LSK President.
Notably, Justice Koome was the inaugural treasurer of East Africa Law Society between 1994-1996.
She also participated in the clamour for the review of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 and served as Chairperson of the Federation of Female Lawyers (FIDA) where she spearheaded law reforms to protect the family.
With a wealth of experience under her belt, Justice Koome is said to have won the confidence of JSC interview panel as a person who can be relied upon to mend between the courts and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration.
She now awaits vetting by the National Assembly before President Uhuru confirms her for the post.