Chief Justice David Maraga has “re-launched” Manga Ritongo Law Courts which was one of the earliest courts that served the African people in Gusii region during the colonial period era.
It is unclear exactly when the old court was established because, while the records in Judiciary registries show that the oldest case dates back only to 1940, historians and elders from the area believe it was established around 1932.
According to the elders who know of the court’s early years, the first presiding Judges included Ndemo Kibagendi, father to Lawrence Sagini who was to become Kenya’s first minister for Education, Ombonya Ariga, Stephen Otundo, Ibrahim Ongubo, and Nyangoto Nyamongo.
The last presiding judge, or “President” as they were called at the time, was Johnstone Matundura Abuta at a time when the court was called the African Appeal Court.
The Manga court served the African people not only concerning the laws brought by the colonial government. The court adjudicated over customary matters that touched on the welfare of the people such as marriage, inheritance, land and matters on African family law as anchored in Kisii customary law.
It was in this court that a ruling was made reducing the amount of dowry from 20 cows to six cows and a bull after it was realized that the higher figure was prohibitive and many young men were deferring their marriage plans. This case, which was prosecuted by the late Chief Zacharia Ooga Angwenyi.
Despite the glorious start, the Manga District court, as it was called at the time, was relocated to Nyamira in 1984. This was after the Kisii District Development Committee recommended that it be moved to occupy space provided by the Government.
“I am grateful to those who have strived for many years to bring this court back to its original home. It will be instrumental in enhancing justice delivery since many criminal cases that are heard in Nyamira today emanate from this area,” said Maraga.