By David Himbara
Today, at the age of 38, the Rwandan genocide survivor popular singer, Kizito Mihigo, was announced dead while in the custody of Rwanda Police in Remera, Kigali. Mihigo was a rare talent – he was a singer, songwriter, organist, composer of sacred music, television presenter, genocide survivor, and peace and reconciliation activist. Mihigo studied at the Conservatoire de Paris in France. He created the Kizito Mihigo Peace Foundation. In recognition of his activities for peace, Mihigo was awarded the Cerebrating Young Rwandan Archivers by the Imbuto foundation, an organization of the Jeannette Kagame Nyiramongi, the wife of General Kagame. The Rwanda Governance Board recognized the Kizito Mihigo Peace Foundation among the top-ten local NGOs that had promoted good governance in Rwanda.
The death of this young man revives another painful memory of another talented person who died in the same location five years ago – Dr. Emmanuel Gasakure. For those who don’t know or don’t remember Gasakure, he was an accomplished cardiologist, and former Dean of the then National University of Rwanda’s Faculty of Medicine. From there, General Paul Kagame recruited Gasakure to be his personal doctor. Gasakure was murdered in a police cell in Kigali, Rwanda, on Feb 25, 2015.
Gasakure was highly accomplished long before returning to Rwanda at the end of that country’s 1994 genocide. He was a professor at the University of Nancy, the institution where he had done his residency, while also working in the cardiology ward at the university’s hospital. Gasakure could therefore have stayed in France – but chose to return to his homeland and help rebuild it. How could such a man who sacrificed so much in his career for the betterment of his country die like a dog at the Remera Police Station?
The deaths of Gasakure and Kizito point to a troubling leadership in Rwanda. Such rare talents as Gasakure and Kizito are hard to replace. Their expertise and crafts take years, enormous resources, and time to develop. Kagame can’t have his cake and eat it. He can’t continue to kill the Rwandan talent and yet claim to be building Rwanda. It takes the likes of people Kagame is killing to build a sustainable and prosperous nation.