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Researcher of the Month: Osogo Ambani

Meet Mr. J Osogo Ambani, a well composed, gentle spirited, humble man. He has recently joined Strathmore Law School fraternity as a lecturer, a job he is truly grateful for. Today we discuss his PhD research work and his personal life;


What courses did you study prior to specializing in this particular field of your PhD?

I did my undergraduate degree at the University of Nairobi and my masters at Pretoria University, both in Law.  I love academic research and writing. I enjoy enquiring into a grey area, researching on it and then publishing the findings.


What is your PhD research on?

My research is on secular states and how they handle moral issues, the title is Secular Christendoms?


There are lots of debates lately on moral topics. This research looks at state and religion in selected secular dispensations in Africa. I am focusing on five commonwealth countries, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Nigeria and Zimbabwe have been on the forefront lately on morals and their religious beliefs. I try to find out why the countries state in their constitutions that they are secular ‘all religions are welcome’ yet when making ‘moral decisions’ they deal with the situations as if they are Christendoms. A simple example is how these jurisdictions have recently treated the issue of sexual orientation. It begs the question what we mean by the secular constitution in Africa. 


My university requires that I publish at least two papers in peer reviewed journals before graduating.


When did you start your research work?

I started my research work three years ago at the University of Pretoria. My supervisor is called Prof. Frans Viljoen, he’s the Director at the Centre for Human Rights – University of Pretoria.


You can’t work on your research paper alone, you have to involve the supervisor at all times and the supervisor must also own the work. You can have even two supervisors for your work, but I only have one at the moment.  

Do you feel the topic has put you in a fix?

I feel my topic has put me in a fix because people try to find out what my stand is. The topic of legal regulation of morality is a hot one. What many fail to see is that I am merely enquiring into the phenomena of secular constitutions in the wake of tough moral questions.


On working at Strathmore…

I have taught a total of seven years in two different universities. I then started working as an adjunct (visiting lecturer) at Strathmore University. After seven months I became a full-time staff. I love Strathmore, the environment is really good for teaching. The classes here are smaller and easier to teach using interactive methods.

The Law School Dean, Dr. Luis Franceschi, has been of great help with my research work. He encourages me to present my papers here in Kenya; I present a lot of the papers in South Africa. The dean also reduces my workload when need be, and tries not to disturb me when am studying.


Where do you see yourself in the next five to ten years?

I want to be a professor throughout. I am hoping the university will introduce masters and doctoral courses in future so we can teach and supervise postgraduate students. I would love to facilitate publications through Strathmore University Press. Already much is being done as we are about to launch a Strathmore Law Journal and stuff like that. I hope to see a vibrant research center for future publications.


Any publications of your own?

I have published many books although I’ve never counted how many they are in total. However I know the edited books are more than the co-authored books.

The latest book is called the New Constitution of Kenya, I’ve co-authored it with Prof Kiwinda Mbondenyi, the Dean, Africa Nazarene University, School of Law.

I also have an upcoming publication by the title, International Law on the Rights of the Child in Africa. We are hoping to have it out of press by January next year.


Advice to aspiring PhD students…

I believe a PhD is best for academics or researchers, not everyone should do it. I also believe every academic MUST do a PhD. The whole process takes time and tests your patience but in the end the reward is sweet.

I would advise our students to develop a passion for knowledge. Seeking knowledge is the ultimate end of a good education system.


On family life…

I am a married man and a father of one son.