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Frankly speaking with Nicholas Opiyo

By Joan Akello

Sometimes I walk along lonely legal roads

Born on November 15, 1980, Nicholas Opiyo a High Court advocate spoke to The Independent’s Joan Akello about law and why he avoids dancing.

Young and winning many court cases, what is the secret?

I may have been a late comer to the scene but I have been practicing law since 2008. Secondly, I do not believe that there is any secret to my work except hard work, persistence and being able to take the walk along sometimes lonely legal roads. I chase causes not a big cheque.

What is your current state of mind?

I am overwhelmed by emotions; a barrage of insults, condemnation by foes and praise, encouragement and good wishes from friends. I am doing what I believe to be the right thing to do.

What three things do we not know about you?

I am a teetotaler, lousy dancer who avoids it, and I am a little shy but soft, firm and talkative. I do not give up easily.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

The satisfaction that my conscience is clear, have done my best, and been as honest.

What is your greatest fear?

Armed conflict or war and its adverse impact on human life and human dignity. I have grown up in a conflict afflicted area of Northern Uganda and witnessed it firsthand.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

I am content and confident with all that I am and all that I have.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

I hate liars, dishonest, and discourteous people.

Which living person do you most admire?

I admire my father. There is no braver and selfless man I have known. He has sacrificed his comfort to ensure that all his many children have a chance at the best possible education in life even in the middle of war, poverty and many of life’s hardships.

What is your greatest extravagance?

I am a frugal, practical, and modest person.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

I am not judgmental. People’s perceptions and behaviors are shaped by different circumstances. I do not know their journey and what motivates them.

On what occasion do you lie?

I try as much as humanly possible not to lie.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?

I like everything about myself.

Which living person do you most despise?

I despise no one because I believe, as Dale Carnegie writes in How to influence people and Win Friends; every person is my master in one way or the other. Or as they say, even a broken clock is correct twice a day.

What is the quality you most like in a man?

I see no gender or gender identity, I see a human being. I admire men and women of virtues, of honest living, those who are selfless and committed to the wider public good.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

I measure my words. Every word is chosen to deliver a message, convey a feeling, and make a point.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

I have loved, love, and will love many things and people in this long journey. When I am dead, you will perhaps tell who or what the greatest of them have been.

When and where were you happiest?

I am not an entirely emotionally expressive person. But I am often happiest in my mind, in my conscience and warm smile.

Which talent would you most like to have?

I make the best of what I have or who I am. I am in the right place with my talent

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

The next one. I look forward not backward and peruse excellence all the time.

Where would you most like to live?

Pawel, my ancestral home – where life is basic, people are honest and not-rent seeking.

What is your most treasured possession?

I am not materialistic. I am very basic and comfortable

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Is there a measure of misery? I do not know anything of as the lowest depth of misery. Misery is misery. It’s like sin; sin is sin – none more heinous than the other, if Christian teachings are to be believed.

What is your favorite occupation?

An honest lawyer or advocate

What is your most marked characteristic?

Honest, modest, and humble

What do you most value in your friends?


Who are your favorite writers?

I read lots of Daniel Kalainaki, David Mpanga, Allan Tacca, Andrew Mwenda and Charles Onyango Obbo -all columnists. I have also read lots of John Grisham, Naomi Klein, John Pilger and Fareed Zakaria and lots more.

Who is your hero of fiction?

I don’t watch or read fiction

Who are your heroes in real life?

The folks who take every day to do the little things we all ignore in life; clean the city roads, teachers, and mothers. Those are my heroes. Their resilience speaks to human goodness.

What is your greatest regret?

Will tell after my life.

What is your motto?

Do you utmost best at all times, change others’ lives and smile.

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