Listening to the discussion on BBC about His Majesty King Kigeli, I was so disappointed and sad. He lies in morgue awaiting for a judge to determine where he should be buried. The burial became a legal matter because different family factions disagree on where His Majesty should be buried – whether in or outside Rwanda.
Here is a man who needs a peaceful rest at long last. This is something he was denied for his entire life.
His Majesty became King in 1959, after his brother, King Mutara died suddenly, shortly after a visit to a Belgian doctor. At King Mutara’s burial ceremony, Kigeli was declared the next king.
And that is when His Majesty Kigeli’s endless troubles begun. Soon he was forced into exile. From overseas, he watched Rwanda go through three dictatorships and violent political upheavals. The worst was of course the mass slaughter of 1994, a genocide in which up to one million members of the Tutsi community were killed. Subsequently, an untold number of members of Hutu community perished at the hands of Rwandan military especially in Congo where the UN concluded that a court of law should determine if a genocide took place.
By the time of the Rwanda genocide and its aftermath in Congo took place Kigeli was living in a humble apartment in the US. He was subsisting mainly on funds raised from well-wishers and attended by Boniface Benzinge.
Evidently, Benzinge was His Majesty’s boyhood friend. Benzinge, who played various roles for the King, including his chancellor, counsellor, secretary and interpreter must himself be a remarkable person. He stayed with his Majesty for at least six decades when almost all other Rwandans abandoned the King.
I do not fully know the inner details beyond what I heard on radio regarding the delayed burial of his majesty. But I have no doubt whatsoever about who deserves to be listened to among His Majesty’s family and friends after listening to the BBC discussion.
If anyone has a moral authority over this matter, it is Benzinge. I do not know this man in person. But his roles in His Majesty’s life speaks volumes about him. Surely, who would know what His Majesty’s wishes were, besides his boyhood friend, who stayed with him in exile from the 1960s to 2016? These two men – the King and a friend, chancellor, counsellor, secretary, and interpreter, suffered together for over 60 years.
In conclusion, I have no doubt that all decent Rwandans wish that His Majesty finds a resting place in line with his wishes. And Benzinge himself deserves recognition. Speaking for myself, I unreservedly thank him for his extraordinary commitment to His Majesty King Kigeli V. I dare anyone to show us a better friend, advisor, and companion to His Majesty than Benzinge.