When I was in Uganda in 2009, I spent some time with several men on death row at the Luzira Maximum Security Prison inKampala, Uganda. The inmates are referred to as “condemned men”. As we went through all the security points and the long walks through various hallways and doors, we finally arrived to the waiting room outside the courtyard. Through the bars we could see the men – all dressed in white uniforms of shirts, shorts, and sandals. The all-white uniforms stood in stark contrast to brown skin.
They spotted us easily and were curious as to why five white women were preparing to enter the area where they freely roamed. As we talked among ourselves about our curiosity and fears about what was going to happen next, I wondered what they were talking about. It had one of those “first-day-of-camp” feelings where groups are sizing each other up, unsure of each other and what the experience will bring.
I soon learned that we were going to “fellowship” with them which means we were going to have a worship gathering together. I learned that worship together in Uganda was often referred to as “fellowship”. Sounded great.
We entered the secure courtyard and the sea of men parted like the Red Sea. We crossed through exchanging smiles and glances with the prisoners. It was strange to think that we were walking through the center of 60-70 condemned men with our two guides and one or two guards. Nothing like I would imagine death row to be in the states.