I write with a mixture of pride and disappointment.

Pride because five years ago, the Kenya Human Rights Commission was fortunate enough to attract George Kegoro, an iconic figure in the Kenyan and global human rights movements, to become its Executive Director.  Rarely has a human rights organization been led by a person so well prepared for leadership, and so insightful about the struggles that pit the citizen against the state.  Mr. Kegoro is one of a kind.  Before the KHRC, he had honed his leadership skills at the pinnacle of the legal and human rights sectors in Kenya.  He was a homegrown original -- brilliant, skeptical, diplomatic, and calculating.  He is a tenacious fighter in the best tradition of the Kenyan human rights street.  I speak for the Board of the KHRC when I say we at the KHRC consider ourselves lucky to have had Mr. Kegoro at the helm.

I know I slept like a baby with his hands on the steering wheel.  Over the next five years, Mr. Kegoro would lead the KHRC and its staff to new heights of efficacy and international prominence.  He made the organization a pivotal player in every branch of government and in every national issue and crisis -- from elections to policing, workers' rights, women's rights, and lawmaking.  As far as I know, no one -- no matter how famous or powerful -- refused to return his calls.  He gave civil society -- societas civilis -- its voice in matters big and small.  Mr. Kegoro’s leadership has left the KHRC’s imprimatur on the consciousness of Kenyans.  One of his signature achievements was the acquisition of permanent premises on Amboseli Road in Nairobi.  A permanent and self-owned abode is the dream of many a human rights organization.  Thanks to our generous partners, Mr. Kegoro led us to achieve this long-elusive goal.  We are now free of landlords.

Disappointment because Mr. Kegoro is leaving the KHRC.  Starting this week, Mr. Kegoro will become the Executive Director of the Open Society Initiative for East Africa (OSIEA).  The disappointment is not that he is leaving us for OSIEA.  Rather, it is that all good things must somehow come to an end.  But we are comforted that while Mr. Kegoro will not be at the KHRC, he will still be in the civil society sector, and we will continue to work with him in that capacity.  I would like to think that Mr. Kegoro is moving up -- and mean it.  While that is true, I know he will always be one of us.  The bonds that have bound us together will continue to yoke us.  We know that he leaves behind a stronger organization, a committed staff, and resilient partnerships.  We owe him our unreserved gratitude for which we can never repay him.

No one can replace Mr. Kegoro.  However, new leadership must now emerge.  In this context, I wish to announce that the KHRC Board has appointed Davis Malombe, our current Deputy Executive Director, to the position of Interim Executive Director.  Mr. Malombe, a well-known expert in transitional justice and workers' rights, has been a vital human rights leader in Kenya and within the KHRC.  We wish him well and are delighted to welcome him to his new role.

 

Professor Makau Mutua

Chair, Board of Directors

Kenya Human Rights Commission

01/11/2020.