Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything ― Plato.

Well, this is true for most people who love to unwind by listening to their favourite music. There is a way music activates every cell within a human body and people dance probably as a form of expression of joy.

This not different for High Court judge Boaz Olao, who during the day makes rulings but sings Lingala during his free time.

He loves Lingala and Swahili music and on a number of occasions has performed for fellow judges. His stage name is Papa Olao.

“I developed a liking for Lingala music when I started spending holidays with my late uncle Peter Andai. He had a record player and mostly played Lingala music, particularly by the late Kings of Rhumba Luanzo Luambo Makiadi (Franco) and Tabu Ley. I, therefore, developed a liking for Lingala music and admire Franco’s band TPOK JAZZ,” Olao told the Star in an interview.

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He added,

“Although I don’t understand Lingala, the music has beats that anyone can dance to and enjoy. Music must be the best export to have come from that part of the world (DRC). I imagine it is the equivalent of our Kenyan coffee, tea and wildlife.”

One of Tabu Ley’s famous song is Muzina. He sings about the fragile nature of humanity, and how a man cannot survive without God. He also emphasizes his love for God, who watches over him.

Others are Savon Omo, Maze, Sorozo, N’daya Paradis, Mama Ida and Nadina. Justice Olao who comes from Khwisero in Kakamega first started singing when he was in primary school. He sang in the church choir.

“Singing is something that runs in the family,” the judge said.

His late mother, Nerea Ngesa, was also an avid singer when she worked in the then Prisons Department and even continued singing long in her retirement.

“She would even sing while making meals in the kitchen. So I was introduced to music very early in life,” Olao said.

Judge Olao is married and has four children.

Judge Olao with his daughter

His daughter Barbara and son Allan also sing as well as his two sisters, Betty and Angelina. However, it is his niece Malika who has taken music as a career.

He is a judge of the Environment and land court and has worked in the Judiciary since October 1982, when he was first employed as a district magistrate.

He loves sports, listening to music and watching documentaries on wildlife. As a judicial officer, he says, he is happy when he is able to expeditiously determine cases.

“My role model is the late Chief Justice C B. Madan. I admire his very progressive jurisprudence in the area of land law and particularly in relation to customary trusts,” Olao said.

Because he works full-time, Olao has not been able to perform elsewhere but hinted he will venture into music full time upon retirement.

“When I retire, I will consider joining my friend Peter Akwabi, a seasoned musician in my village,” he said.

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He also loves football and started the Judiciary Football Club, which he chairs. But Olao is not the only judge who sings. Judges Teresia Matheka, Winfrida Okwany and Mary Oundo known sing as well.

When they sing together they are known as Papa and the Queens. Justice Msagah Mbogholi also sings and loves classical music. They last performed during the annual Judges colloquium at Whitesands Hotel in Mombasa.

He also loves Swahili music group Marquis Du Zaire, which though based in Tanzania is a band from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

He has also started Mahakama football clubs in various stations such as Mombasa, Nairobi, Eldoret and Kisumu.

The other judges who started the football club are justices Mohammed Ibrahim, Julius Sergon and Aggrey Muchelule.

“As you know all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. This was a way of getting officers not only to mingle and break barriers but also keep fit,” Olao said.

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“This culminated in the birth of the Judiciary Sports Day an annual event that brings together judges, magistrates and other staff from all court stations countrywide to engage in sporting activities,” he said.

He is a fan of Arsenal Football Club.

“I support Arsenal even when they are not doing well which is quite often, unfortunately, and I last visited their stadium in December 2019,” he added.