Supreme Court Photographer's Rise From Selling Street Food, Joho's Waiter

He expressed humility for his unwavering services in his words of gratitude shared through his X handle.

Supreme Court Photographer's Rise From Selling Street Food, Joho's Waiter
Supreme Court photographer, Zakheem Rajan, receiving his Head of State Commendation (HSc) medal on February 2, 2024. /ZAKHEEM RAJAN

Supreme Court photographer, Zakheem Rajan, on Friday, February 2 officially received his Head of State Commendation (HSc) medal from President William Ruto, culminating his rise from being a street food vendor to serving three Chief Justices.

He expressed humility for his unwavering services in his words of gratitude shared through his X handle.

"Honoured to officially receive my Head of State Commendation medal from Chief Justice Martha Koome, awarded to me earlier by H. E. the President.

"I am deeply humbled by the recommendation from Her Ladyship the CJ. I say asante for the recognition and I reaffirm my unwavering commitment to the Judiciary and service to the people of Kenya," he wrote.

Supreme Court photographer Zakheem Rajan with Chief Justice Martha Koome (right) and her deputy, Philomena Mwilu (left). /ZAKHEEM RAJAN

Rajan is one of the little-known individuals who stands out in the current Judiciary, and not for the heavy lifting as the judges do every day but behind the lens, being in charge of the visibility in the media and digital space for the third arm of government.

As the Judiciary is a centre of public attention, its communication department must always be on top of matters, which means regular updates and quality photos daily.

Rajan would know this very well; he became famous owing to his media coverage of the 2022 presidential election petition at the Supreme Court. He has had the privilege of working with not just Chief Justice Martha Karambu Koome but two of her predecessors.

In his role, he has served two emeritus Chief Justices, Willy Mutunga and David Maraga. His exemplary workmanship has further earned him an opportunity to serve Kenya's first female Chief Justice, Martha Koome.

Rajan is a communications practitioner at the Judiciary of Kenya who is tasked with covering the public, media, and stakeholder engagements within the Judiciary. He is also mandated with implementing strategies that enhance judicial visibility.

However, he rose from working as a street food vendor in his humble days in Mombasa after his high school education, his first working stint before moving to a hotel in the Coastal city to work as a waiter.

It was here that he met powerful political leaders from the region including the outgoing Mombasa Governor, Hassan Ali Joho, who at the time was campaigning for a parliamentary seat.

"People wanted to know about my journey, 14 years ago, I worked in a restaurant in Mombasa. Governor Hassan Ali Joho would frequently come as he was vying for MP. I would serve him tea and mandazi," Rajan wrote on his social media page in 2022.

Although he did not reveal more details, his big break came when he was hired by the Judiciary and for being the man behind the Judiciary's, specifically the Supreme Court, pictures and videos, Rajan became a nationwide celebrity throughout the 2022 petition period in August-September.

His photographs are more than mere snapshots; they're windows into the inner workings of the Judiciary, conveying the gravitas of legal proceedings and the humanity behind the robes.

Other than photography, Rajan makes use of his social media pages to influence other young Kenyans with his grass-to-grace stories.

His keen eye and dedication to his craft have also made him a trusted advisor, offering judicial insights and garnering a significant following on his X page inching close to 50,000 followers at the time of publishing this article.

Rajan's journey into photojournalism is also steeped in familial legacy, following in the footsteps of his father, a legendary journalist who covered the Coastal Region through his lens.

Other than Rajan, Rose Wachuka Macharia is also an integral part of Koome's success as the Chief Justice in the public eye. The 35-year-old is the Chief of Staff in the Office of the CJ.

“From when I was a child growing up in Ol Kalou in Nyandarua County, I knew I wanted to serve. That is the currency of my satisfaction, not even money. It is about making an impact in the life of another person," she stated in a past interview.

Another key individual in Koome's wing is Michael Mumo, who serves as the Communications Advisor in the Office of the CJ. He was popularly known for his stint at Capital FM where he was an Editorial Director.

Supreme Court photographer, Zakheem Rajan with his two cameras. /ZAKHEEM RAJAN