By Hillary Nsambu
Retired Chief Justice, Laetitia Eulalia Mary Mukasa-Kikonyogo is ever the first woman, who has held many high profile positions, making her one of the rarest gifted women in Uganda.
She was the first Ugandan woman magistrate Grade I (1971-1973), the first woman Chief Magistrate (1973-1986), the first woman to be appointed High Court judge (1986) and sat on the Court of Appeal to hear criminal appeals.
In 1997, Mukasa-Kikonyogo was also appointed the first woman justice of the Supreme Court of Uganda and the first woman to be appointed Deputy Chief Justice.
She was also the head of the Court of Appeal and president of the Constitutional Court of Uganda in February 2001. Mukasa-Kikonyogo was the first African president of the International Association of Women Judges.
Recently, Pope Benedict XVI appointed her as one of the two Ugandan dames to be the first ever women papal knights in the history of the Catholic Church not only in Uganda, but also in the whole of Africa.
The other dame is Margaret Ntege, a parishioner of Bunamwaya Parish in the Kampala Archdiocese.
Born on September 2, 1940, Mukasa-Kikonyogo was recognized for her outstanding service in the church. The Archbishop of Kampala, Cyprian Kizito-Lwanga made an announcement during the Kampala Archdiocesan Priests Association meeting held recently at Pope Paul the VI Memorial Hotel in Ndeeba, a Kampala suburb.
“I am overwhelmed by the Pope’s choice. Who am I to be his dame? I only thank God for such a great honour bestowed on me for I don’t consider myself deserving. It is only God’s kindness,’ she says.
Mukasa-Kikonyogo, adds that she is delighted because of her love for the Catholic faith and her effort to observe it. “I believe such an honour would be everybody’s desire and pride,” she says.
Education and career
Mukasa-Kikonyogo went to Busuubizi Girls’ Primary School (1948-1952), Trinity College, Nabbingo in ‘O’ Level (1953-1958), King’s College, Budo in ‘A’ Level (1959-1960) before joining Makerere University where she graduated with B.A London certificate (1964-1968).
She also studied at Somerville College Oxford for a post graduate diploma in Social Anthropology (1964-1965) and at the Inner Temple and Council of Legal Education – London for a Bar course and Barrister at Law degree (1965-1968).
Mukasa-Kikonyogo is a member of the Uganda Association of Women Lawyers and Africa region vicepresident of International Federation of Women Lawyers.
Contribution to the church
“I have practised my faith and I am not ashamed to profess that I am a staunch Roman Catholic. I am so devoted that even if the Pope left the Catholic Church the Virgin Mary will stay,” Mukasa-Kikonyogo explains.
She adds that she has participated both in the church and communal activities. “I have been the head of married women (Naabafumbo) and I assisted Bishop Matthias Ssekamaanya to write for the married,” she Mukasa-Kikonyogo actively participated in activities, especially those children and women. first to make a presentation abuse and acted as the to many children’s organisations UNICEF, Save the Children’s African Child Abuse also chairperson of Kampiringisa Boys Reformatory School,” Mukasa-Kikonyogo says.
Mukasa-Kikonyogo was nominated a member committee that drafted African Children’s Charter, created to protect children. She would visit different schools and address them on various topical issues legal and social concerns.
She was awarded Lubaga National Foundation Women Honoree 2005 Association of Women Uganda for distinguished the first female High Supreme Court.
“The Rotary Club of recognised me for the distinguished and active in my 37 years of service to the realisation of justice,” Mukasa- Kikonyogo says.
The Uganda Network on Law, Ethics and HIV/AIDS also recognized her services in addressing issues of domestic violence, while Nkumba University Law Society also recognised her as its patron. Standard Chartered Bank recognised Mukasa- Kikonyogo for true partnership.