Pete OukoFounder-Crime Si Poa
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As the first Kenyan inmate to graduate with a Diploma in Law from the University of London, Pete Ouko’s focus during his 18-year stint behind bars for a wrongful conviction, was to fight injustice and work towards having a safer Kenya. It did not come easy though.
He achieved this despite initially being locked up 23 hours a day in a cramped death row cell with only 30 minutes if at all, allowed outside. He had no tutorial support and there were detractors. He even got his books late. But impediments did not make him lose hope.
Being sentenced to the gallows after a unanimous “not guilty” from the jury can be one of the most traumatizing experiences one could ever go through in life. But for Pete, it did not shatter his dreams, make him lose faith in justice or reduce him to a state of helplessness. His story has been great motivation not only for his former fellow inmates but also to the wider public and his children.
While in prison, Pete drafted a petition for wilful negligence against a Chinese construction firm and won a $10,000 compensatory award for a casual labourer bitten by a dog at a construction site.
In his last year in prison, Pete helped draft submissions for appeal that saw six inmates released from death row.
Before going to prison, Pete had set a record as the youngest management-level employee of Bata Shoe company, the renown global footwear and fashion accessory manufacturer and retailer. They took him as a manager of their first sports shop franchise in Kenya in the early 1990s before he resigned to go into private business two years later.
In 2007, Pete founded The Youth Safety Awareness Initiative, a Non-Governmental Organisation better known by its brand name, Crime Si Poa (Crime is not cool) to promote peace, reduce crime, anti-social behaviour and other activities that threaten peace while using social enterprise as a tool for reducing recidivism.
He is a much sought-after speaker on topics such as overcoming challenging circumstances and re-branding, criminal justice reform, youth and security and the power of power mentality to affect change.