On the 24th June 2021, the CSO community in Uganda lost a paralegal, Licinia Akirapa. Licinia worked as a community paralegal in Lira. She was lauded by many as a happy hard working person during an online memorial.
Her friend Samantha, penned down a tribute:
The most innocent voice called me, months after my life had hit a pause. Two days after hitting send, to a job application almost a month past deadline. I was almost sure I wouldn’t get any response. The most innocent voice at the other side of the line asked me to travel all the way to Lira the next day for a job interview. She ended the call almost sure she’d see me. I felt her smile at the other end and I knew I had to go.
The first time I saw her, I finally understood what Sauti Sol meant by their song Melanin. All my life I’d never seen melanin so dark, so defined and so beautiful. I remember her riding into the gate on her black and purple scooter in a matching purple shirt paired with the cutest 90’s denim skirt. Her hair in basic corn rows and yet she was the most beautiful woman I’d seen, sweating from the heat…steaming hot water vapor. I remember calling my friend to tell her of this beauty. I think she was playing favorites because out of all the candidates she came and said hi to me, asked if I was Samantha and giggled on her merry way back inside.
The day I got the job, it was the same innocent voice that made the call. She volunteered to help me find a house and noted she was sure I wanted one with parking. I glanced at my worn out shoe soles and wondered if there’s a place my soul could find parking, I found the faith she had in my obviously struggling pockets laughable so I laughed and said no.
My first lunch time in the office, while everybody bubbled away in a language I don’t understand, she turned to me and asked to buy me lunch, very sure I’d enjoy it. I didn’t eat anything apart from pasted beef and sweet potatoes for the next six months. I didn’t tell her though that the first time I ate it with her was my first time in my entire life. The heart burn lasted two days but that did not stop me. One morning, she rode in joyfully with a bag of buns like she called them and she offered me one, those are the best cinnamon rolls I have ever eaten.
It wasn’t always easy, as working with someone can be. Sometimes it seemed impossible but we always found our way back. We always laughed over what the issue was. At my saddest when she could, she’d cheer me up the only way a loving friend knows best, with food. I found a confidant, a friend, a fellow rebel in her. Three days before she left me for good, she came home on her big bike as she always did and told me to chase my samosa making dreams. There and then before she left, Aine’s Frozen Bites was born menu and all.
I know that I did not know you for long and some people might feel they had more right to write this, we didn’t have a long life together but we had a deep one and I am grateful. I also know that most people will say, where are the stories about her being a human rights defender, the battles she fought for marginalized groups? Where is the legacy everyone is shouting about in your memoir? The world is mourning the fall of a soldier in the human rights fight as it should because honestly her passion was unmatched.
The world is mourning a feminist who stood for women regardless of orientation or occupation. The family is mourning a sister, a mother and a daughter and I am sad for them. I am mourning my friend and this is what this is about, MY FRIEND. May I never bite into a well baked pastry and not see you smiling approvingly back at me my Licinia. I hope the golden heaven streets are not too slippery for you to ride your bike. Your beautiful melanin will look wonderful in a golden helmet.
Fare thee well my friend.