It is said that a man’s lifetime value will always openly come out upon attaining his retirement age. According to psychologist Erik Erikson who coined the theory of psychosocial development, upon attaining the age of 65, a person enters the last stage of life with the main reflection being whether he lived a meaningful life. Erikson notes that most retirees who squandered life opportunities always end up in despair, regrets and depression.
However, aged 76, Kenyan lawyer Benjamin Geteria was on a new life venture and enrolled for a law degree at University of Nairobi. Geteria was in the same class with students who were comparatively younger and fitted to be described as his grandchildren.
Despite being faced with various challenges such as use of technology in studying and access of materials, he remained equal to the task and graduated in 2015.
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Geteria details that his desire to pursue the law career was fueled with an urge to have a meaningful and busy retirement. In a recent interview with Nation, he points out that life can be meaningless for retirees who resort to alcoholism and staying idle.
“A lot of people tend to go drinking in their retirement or just idling and complaining about how hard life is but practising law has given me a new lease of life.”
“The way a plumber gets a job until he pops off, the way a doctor gets a job until he pops off – you have a lifeline (and) not just idling and drinking,” he says.
Geteria went on to pursue a post graduate diploma in law at the Kenya School of Law, which required sheer hard work as this is where things careen off the rails for most aspiring lawyers. He repeated the exams twice.
Recently, the unflinching 77 years old just got admitted to the bar as an Advocate of the High Court in Kenya. Geteria says his main focus will be on offering services to the poor people who always cannot afford legal representation. He has acquired an office next to Gikomba Market ready to kickstart his career.
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“I am more on the people law rather than material law and my specialty will be in pro-poor litigation, serving the underdogs as I am not here to amass wealth“, he says.
Benjamin Geteria Background and Education
He was born the second in a family of 13 in Runyenjes, Embu County. His father was once tied up with ropes by the colonialists and detained at Kapenguria during the 1952 state of emergency.
Geteria studied at Kangaru High School, then proceeded to Alliance High School for his ‘A’ levels. He recalls that lawyer James Orengo was a junior student by then.
He pursued a Bachelor’s of Science in Forestry at Ibadan University, graduating in the late ’60s and landing a job at the Kenya Forestry Service. He worked for 28 years until 1993 where he became jobless and blames the matter on the then KANU government.
“In 1993, forestry became a fairly risky job. This was the time the then government was dishing out all sorts of lands to ‘politically correct’ people,” he reveals.