Pascal Kakuru: In His Own Words
There are many dates I will never forget.
The first is 20th June 1978, the date my journey to law began in South Western Uganda with my birth. Of humble origins, my family migrated to Central Uganda in 1982. Following a church education and eight “O” – Levels in 1997, I joined the Police. My choice of career was caused more out of a need to provide for my large family than anything else.
In 2005, a major turning point, or ‘The Turning Point’ was reached in my life. This is the year I was arrested, charged, tried, convicted and condemned to death for murder. My sentence was pronounced on 21st December 2007, another date I am unlikely to forget.
Having been sentenced to death, this caused some rapid and significant changes to my life. Gone was my freedom – association, movement and more. However, as with every cloud, there remained one silver lining for me: I retained freedom of thought which I did best to exercise that with the vigour of the other lost freedoms.
I gained new interests and I challenged myself mentally. This led me to education. In the shadow of the noose, I read and improved myself. Firstly, came ‘A’-Levels. Then came the Diploma in Theology, mirroring a now firmly held renewed belief in Christ. Afterwards came the certificates and diplomas in Business. Finally, came the most challenging trinity – the Diploma, Law Degree & Postgraduate Qualifications in Law from the University of London.
I may be premature in my pronouncements, as I have only gotten the Diploma and Bachelor of Laws Degree at this point but having just commenced my Postgraduate Certificate in Laws, I see no reason why – like all other endeavours, with diligence, hard work, the Lord Our God and the encouragement and support of others, I cannot successfully complete these studies from Certificate to Masters in Law level.
My family, the Prisons’ Authority, African Prisons Project, Wells of Hope, University of London and others have gotten me this far, I am sure we can go further.
As I gain academically, I also gain spiritually and despite twelve year incarceration far from being institutionalized, I am more ‘restitutionally inclined’ having learnt the beauty, need and necessity of returning back to society no matter how little I have.
In my time in prison, I have not been blind to the injustice of others around me. Poverty does not allow efficient legal representation, causing the poor to be convicted on the strength of evidence they failed to adequately challenge. This problem is larger than Uganda and is prevalent wherever poverty, disadvantage and marginalization are found.
With my good luck and education, I aim to help those three groupings wherever they are.
I say “Good Luck” because there is another date I will never forget, 18th November 2013. On this day, my death sentenced was commuted to a term of years of which I have until 2019 to serve.