Human Rights and Democratisation Alumni Newsletter
January 2023
Human Rights and Democratisation Alumni Newsletter

This Human Rights and Democratisation Alumni newsletter aims to inform the greater ‘Human Rights and Democratisation Alumni’ of some recent events and upcoming activities. 
Alumni Spotlight: Grace Wakio Kakai
Inaugurated as Deputy Registrar of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights in November 2022

Grace shared part of her journey to becoming the Deputy Registrar of the African Court with our HRDA Alumni Coordinator, Davina Murden. Grace has been working in human rights law for more than 20 years. She is a human rights lawyer and an advocate of the High Court of Kenya. Before her appointment as Deputy Registrar of the African Court, Grace served as Head of the African Court’s Legal Division. We had a short interview with her, where Grace highlighted some aspects of her life that contributed in who she is today. 

Q: What motivated you into becoming a lawyer?
A: I had my cousin who was in law school some years before me, and I really used to look up to her a lot. She was an inspiration to me. She was the one who motivated me to get into law school. When I was finishing high school, that is the course I took. This is one of the reasons why it is important to interact with the younger generations. You never know, you might just motivate somebody. As time went by, I eventually realised I did the right choice because law school was just a right fit for me, and I love what I am doing.

Q: Why human rights on the African continent specifically?
A: I wanted to be involved in works that have an impact on the larger society. If you practise in private law, you deal with private entities even though some can have an impact on the public, but rarely so. I felt drawn to the human rights field because of that public spiritedness. This is also one of the reasons why I applied for the Masters at the Centre for Human Rights. It has a special focus on human rights and democratisation in Africa which I did not find in other courses. This desire to focus on human rights in Africa started when I got the opportunity to undertake the Chevening Fellowship which the UK organises for different students all over the world. I was in the pioneer group in 2005. This fellowship was part of building my professional skillset and exposure to different systems. After doing this fellowship, it solidified my desire to be involved in sub-regional context such as the East African Community and even the African Union. We went on study visits to these European institutions like the European Union and the Council of Europe. I started looking at things from that continental and regional perspective. And I decided to apply for the Masters Programme at the Centre.

Q: Is there any African leader you admire?
A: Not one person in particular (laughs). I have role models at different levels and in different spheres of life. I get my inspiration from different people, doing different things in life. Even colleagues at work inspire me. I would therefore rather say there is no one in particular who I admire.
Q: Is there anything you believe can be improved in Africa?
A: Respect for rule of law and equality for all. At village level, at the state level, at every possible level. Abidance by the rule of law all over Africa is something we have to start teaching to the children, which then spills over in governance and leadership. The respect for the rule of law must become part of the values we cherish. I believe if this happens, it will help take care of other problems we are having in Africa. We live in Africa and we know the realities. We know how there is a lack of respect for peoples’ dignity and social justice. But if you abide by the rule of law, these things will fall in place.
Q: According to you, is there a particular group of persons that you think is still being victim of discrimination in Africa and more must be done in that regard?
A: A particular group of persons I have that is very close to my heart, that I always wonder whether I can do more is persons with disabilities. This started when I was in high school. I went to an international integrated school. At that time, the government was trying to integrate the students with visual impairment to learn together with other students. I happened to have one such student in my class and it was a real struggle for my classmate, but they made it. Even at college, one of my classmates was visually impaired. I got exposed to this and it opened my eyes. I feel like there is more and more that can be done at policy level and legislatively because persons with disabilities really face a lot of challenges. I feel there needs to be more attention and resources to address their concerns. I will always advocate for more resources and for more to be done in this field.
Alumni Making Moves

Dr Ashwanee

(Mauritius, 2012)

Appointed as Deputy Director, Africa Division, Human Rights Watch

Muleya Mwananyanda
(Zambia, 2006)

Appointed as UNAIDS Director, Influence and Partnerships in Geneva


Professor Kithure Kindiki
(Kenya, 2000)

Appointed as Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Administration of
National Government of Kenya

Alumni Opportunities 

 Constitution making in Africa - Summer school in Budapest
At its core, the course intends to tackle complex social, political, and legal problems in constitution-building from an interdisciplinary perspective, informed by field experience.
Application deadline
14 February 2023
Apply online
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