Today, many hearts in Rwanda are at peace, and a dark and sad chapter in our history is eerily coming to an end. UMWAMI KIGELI Ndahindurwa V’s remains landed at Kigali International airport and was met by family members and well-wishers. Another significant achievement of the New Rwanda.

The skies were blue, I am told, and the wind was gently blowing over Kanombe as the plane carrying Umwami’s remains touched down. Whether you believe in a republic or kingdom, this was a sweet and historic moment for all Rwandans to behold.

Yet again, we proved to the world that our sad and torturous history will never define our good intentions and resolve to mend our fences. Never.

Umwami passed away on October 16, 2016, after 58 years since he was dethroned in what has been erroneously, but purposely, as the “Hutu revolution.”

It was not a revolution, but a (vicious) genocide against Tutsi, and to call it otherwise, or seek to mute the intentions of those who planned and executed it is absurd. It is callous.

1959 was the precursor to 1994, the mother of all genocides. The planners and executioners of 1994 were seeking to complete the “job” they did not “finish” in 1959. Let’s not re-write history. Let’s call a spade a spade.

Every Rwandan of goodwill should be incensed by the drama, the sheer street behavior that took place in Virginia where Umwami passed on. That he has been lying in a morgue for almost  three months is a blot on our nation and conscience as a People. All manner of folks seeking to demonize Rwanda saw this as chance they could not pass, alleging that Rwanda had turned a blind eye on its own. These characters, most of whom one would be ashamed to be seen with, were falling over each other, posing in their expensive rented cars, trying to position themselves to exploit this sad affair for whatever political and personal gain and mileage they imagined. Even hyenas don’t behave this badly.

On allegations (that they could not prove, and therefore the basis of the court’s ruling to return Umwami’s remains) that Umwami had expressed wishes never to be put to rest in his country, these sundry of characters embarrassed us all as Rwandans, pained us beyond belief, and brought scorn on our culture and traditions that respects the departed. I cannot imagine the pain and grief this brought on Umwami’s family.

Noteworthy was the presence in Virginia of familiar characters of the alleged opposition, and one particular businessman who was financing all the shannanigans to exploit Umwami’s passing to his advantage, but to no avail.

Where were they when Umwami needed them most? How come they never sought to stand up and ease Rwanda’s pain, stop the bleeding, and mend a broken nation? Why now? Our culture looks down upon these hounds.

But, all dignity and decency was not lost. As always, when we are down and out, one of our own stands up and saves the moment. I salute Mzee Pastor Mpyisi, frail and in his old age shamed the scoundrels with his wisdom, command of history, fortitude, faith, and unquestionable love of Rwanda. He saved the day. He is, truly one of Rwanda’s remaining few sages. Our finest.

As we put Umwami to rest, deal with the pain and machinations that have brought us to this dark point in our history and caused us much heartache and grief, let’s not give up hope that Rwanda can, and will shine again.

Umwami has always been the magnet that united Rwandans. As we lay him to rest, let’s behold the wisdom of our ways and traditions, and solemnly swear we will never again revert to carnage to resolve our differences. We are better people than that.

With Umwami’s passing, a chapter in our history closes. But our journey is not ended.





About Willis Shalita

I am a writer who is very impassioned about Rwanda and its remarkable journey from the barbaric carnage of Genocide against Tutsi. I am an avid photographer. I believe the African story should be told through African lenses. Our time has come. If not now, when?
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