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Pepperdine | Caruso School of Law

Dust, Must, and Archives - Part IV

by Greer Illingworth (JD '10),

After getting back from Kenya, I eagerly went to see the finished result of the shelving construction. When I had left for Kenya everything looked great and I expected to see a decent end product upon my return. That, unfortunately, was not what occurred. The wood had not been sanded, it had been painted sloppily, and some rows were missing key pieces. The work just did not pass muster. So, holding the final payment as leverage, I stepped a bit out of my skin and pretty forcefully told the carpenter, through the court intermediary, that he would not be paid until the lackluster work was fixed. He agreed to do so and the fix began right away.

Around the same time, it also became apparent that even with the new construction there was still not enough shelving. So, I told the contractor to build additional shelves in the side-room holding cases from 1979 and before. However, this first required that it be cleaned out. So, the following morning, Emily, Micheline and I showed up and cleared out the entire room. Within the piles of these older documents, I made some more morbid discoveries on par with the Idi Amin execution book – namely a machete (likely an murder weapon that was stored and forgotten there as evidence) and different sets of photos showing British businessmen being executed. Another taingible reminder of how violent and oppressive Uganda has been the last fifty years.

By afternoon, the room was sufficiently cleared out for the carpenter and his staff to begin building in there. They worked through the evening and the following day made much more progress, but my flight was to leave that evening. Time was tight and I found myself running around saying goodbyes to people, tying up loose ends, packing for the trip back, and supervising the work in the archives. Micheline was staying one day longer, but, the workers still had more to do when she had to leave as well. So, she made arrangements with two Canadians we had met, who are doing non-profit work in the city, to follow the work and report back with photos when finished.

I personally am very frustrated and disappointed that the work is not totally done right now; but the additional construction and time spent fixing the first round of shelves just set us too far behind schedule. When you look big picture, though, the foundation for turning around the High Court archival and recording system is in place. The first phase of capital improvements is more or less done – the computer workstation is up and running, the shelves are near done, and the court has put in and will soon have the room completely cleaned and repainted. The second phase of implementing the CCAS indexing system has been approved by the powers that be and all that is needed now is for someone on the ground to oversee its successful implementation. The chips are in place. Now, the execution must occur.

How the execution will manifest itself, though, still remains an open question that must be resolved in the coming year. The progress all of us made this past summer was definitive and solid, but at the same time somewhat hollow because the ultimate execution of the entire vision has yet to occur. I leave hoping and praying it does.

I don't know what my future holds, but perhaps going back to Uganda sometime is in the cards.