Nathan Kivungi is a household name at Kituo cha Sheria (KITUO) having joined the organisation in 1996. The 65 year old is the current administrator of the Legal Aid Programme at KITUO. He is also a pastor of the Africa Inland Church (AIC) at Wakahela AIC in Kambiti District (Church Council of the Mbaikini Region). He is an avid reader of the Bible and enjoys spending time with his children and 6 grandchildren, an all round family man. 

KITUO is the oldest, most experienced legal aid providing and human rights non-governmental organisation in Kenya, East, Central and Horn of Africa. Established in 1973, KITUO exists to empower disadvantaged, poor and marginalised people in Kenya and to enhance equity and access to justice for all. KITUO does this by implementing programmes to address systemic causes of inequality and injustice, with a particular focus on providing legal aid in land, succession and housing cases. They meet clients, screen their cases and take up 10 new clients every day who are then advised accordingly. Advocates who are part of their voluntary pro bono scheme are allocated to needy litigants.  KITUO also institutes public interest litigation whenever the need arises and conducts several outreach programmes. 

The late Justice Mulwa Kasanga who hailed from the same village as Mr Kivungi inspired him to pursue a career in the legal service industry. His first introduction into the industry was in 1976 when he joined JK Mulwa and Company Advocates as a court clerk. He later moved to Waruiyu and Gathuru Advocates in the same capacity before joining KITUO. 

His move to KITUO was informed by his quest for a challenge and his tenure at KITUO has seen him rise through the ranks over the years from a senior legal assistant, assistant coordinator to his current role as the administrator of the Legal Aid Programme. Aside from seeing KITUO’s clients, part of his work involves planning the departmental work and supervising the staff in the department.  His main motivation has always been and remains a pull to assist indigent persons access justice. In his day to day work, he employs a belief in continuous learning and this is what has kept him going over his extensive career. 

Guided by volunteerism, KITUO’s clients are at the heart of Mr Kivungi’s work and despite numerous offers to join other organisations, Mr Kivungi made it clear that he delights in the stability that KITUO offers. It was evident that his main motivation was not money but rather the satisfaction that comes with the success of KITUO’s clients’ cases. In the quest to be better at his job, he pursued and now holds a higher diploma in counselling which he stated helps him greatly with discernment which is essential in his line of work.

Drawing a parallel between his work as a legal aid provider and his work as a pastor, he emphasised that the golden thread connecting the two is the fact that in both instances, the main agenda is to fight for human rights. In fact, he termed his work as ministry beyond evangelism and some of the initiatives he has championed are conferences relating scripture to legal issues. 

Mr Kivungi informed us that he treats the younger colleagues as his friends without considering the rather huge age gap. This, he stated, was integral in ensuring that everybody feels comfortable working with him. Over the years, so many have had the benefit of experiencing his selfless service and mentorship. He emphasised that joining the profession as a legal aid provider is a calling and that listening to his inner voice and putting humanity first has been the key to his great success. 

He recommends that the provision of legal aid is ingrained into the education system to encourage young lawyers to take up pro bono matters. According to him, if exposed to the provision of legal aid from a young age, young lawyers would be given an avenue to learn the practical skills needed to succeed in their careers. A commitment to the work they do is the recipe to endless success. 

Naturally, we asked Mr Kivungi to let us in on the secret to a stress free life given the rather demanding nature of his work. He told us that the winning formula is to leave all the work-related stress at work. He went further to reveal that when working with the indigent, the goal is always to put a smile on their faces and therefore, at the end of the day, this is what has kept him going.

Mr Kivungi wants to be remembered as being a helpful person and he wants to see what they started at KITUO grow and continue. 

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