Cynthia under Victoire Ingabire’s generosity

What we do defines who we are as human beings. It does not matter where we are at any given time or circumstances we are experiencing at that particular moment of undertaking actions against which we are assessed.

Victoire Ingabire has this year spent five years in prison, because of the injustices perpetrated by the leaders of her country – Rwanda. Despite them, she remains constant and persistent with her ideals of generosity towards her people. Another Christmas is however passing, herself being forced away from her husband and children.

In the heading of this piece, Cynthia is mentioned. You might wonder who is this one the writer is referring to. But if, by any chance you read about Victoire Ingabire adopting a 3 years old inmate, you will be already familiar with that name.

By writing about this little child on November 24th, I wanted to show how deep was Victoire Ingabire’s unselfishness, no matter what. Talking of her kindness might however trouble those in the Rwandan regime whose objective is to completely destroy her political personality.

I am aware of the danger that I also put the life of that child in, by carrying on mentioning the goodness she is getting from a highly rated politician from the opposition. Don’t be surprised if the next time I might be referring to Cynthia, we might not know her whereabouts. She might disappear like many before here, and probably others as long as Rwanda continues being led the way it has since 1994.

There is a myth currently going on in Rwanda that any good in the country, if any, comes exclusively from president Paul Kagame, nobody else. He has become the provider of everything, good or bad, life or death, like in the old days under the Tutsi monarchy, when it is said pregnancy of cows and women were strongly believed to depend on the goodwill of the king. This explains the reason he is so feared, and that fear stops Rwandans from thinking and acting rationally.

However, – as you will notice -, this piece of writing is not about the newly crowned king for life in the land of the thousands hills, but Cynthia, the toddler who, while in prison with her imprisoned natural mother, had a chance of being adopted by Victoire Ingabire, who is as well incarcerated since October 14th, 2010.

When I first wrote about the story of Cynthia, that Victoire Ingabire explains extensively in her notes presently published into a book, on the one hand, it was because I had been deeply moved reading her. On the other, I wasn’t aware of how the reaction of the readers would be.

Surprisingly, it has been overwhelming. Some knowing how to contact me have been explaining how they have been deeply disturbed. They have been touched in different ways. From not being able to hold their tears, to ridiculing the characters involved in the story and their plight under the conditions imposed on them by the Rwandan government.

A Norwegian member of Friends of Victoire contacted me saying how touched he was.
“I have read your article in theRwandan. What a story! I did not try to block my tears. Do you knows more about Cynthia’s case after 2013?” “No, I don’t,” I replied. And the person is retired, meaning that he has probably seen many things in life, some bad and other not so.

Since the initial story was about Cynthia, and this note not being about the reactions of the readers, their concerns did not leave me indifferent. In fact, I felt compelled to find an answer to the question that some had, like the above reader who was asking what was happening to that toddler after her adoption by Victoire Ingabire.

In order to know more about Cynthia, after Victoire Ingabire had decided to adopt her, I had suggested in my initial piece of writing to find out directly from her family in The Netherlands where her husband and children live.

There was also Flora that she mentions in her notes. She was the first person Victoire Ingabire asked to initiate the first contacts for Cynthia’s adoption. Unfortunately, further to her insecurity, she had to free Rwanda. She currently live in Europe. She was among the people who were bringing food to Victoire Ingabire in prison.

I did my investigation and made the necessary contacts to find out the most recent facts about Cynthia. And luckily I could get hold of the right source.

And what I wanted to highlight carrying out that search of truths was to show the enormity of irresponsibility of the Rwandan leader, president Paul Kagame, now “officially” allowed to seek to rule forever against the plights of hundreds of thousands of Cynthia in his backyard.

What I learnt from Lin Muyizere, Victoire Ingabire’s husband, is another side of Cynthia’s story that those who have been touched by her would be interested to know.

Apparently, every Sunday in the Central prison of Kigali 1930, prisoners attend mass all together. When Victoire Ingabire was allowed to participate, the guards found out that she was “intoxicating” other prisoners with her ideas.

They decided to get her into the hall, once everyone would be already seated, and she would leave last, each time with a team of guards, keeping her from being able to talk to anyone. She would be made to seat in front of the congregation, well on her own, franked with her guards.

For anyone who has attended Sunday masses, or religious gatherings, children in their spirit of exploring and curiosity, move around in their total innocence. And the little Cynthia attending the prison mass with her mum, started being curious about that person who was always coming with a number of guards besides her, each time that everyone had been seated and would get out of the hall once everyone would’ve left.

Cynthia would come and touch Victoire Ingabire where she is seating to get her attention. The guards would let her do what she wanted because of her innocence. At the time she is almost 3 years old, but not yet exactly. They don’t think that she can be “intoxicated” by ideas of the prisoner. She would lift her and put her on her laps. That’s how the friendship between them started.

Children who turn 3 years old in the Rwandan prison system are automatically taken away from their imprisoned mothers, and sent out to their extended families, if they have any. So, people could imagine what happened to these children in a general national context, where RPF, present official structure of oppression of masses of Rwandans, has deliberately destroyed the fabric of society by imprisoning fathers and mothers, and those left behind are dispossessed of the little of what they had. officially to compensate Tutsis, the only community officials consider victims of the Rwandan genocide.

These are the reasons that pushed Cynthia’s mother to beg Victoire Ingabire, herself imprisoned, to help the child, when she saw the kindness of the woman politician towards the child, and the comfort the later found around her.

When Lin Muyizere, from where he lives in The Netherlands, started looking for ways of helping Cynthia, at the request of Victoire Ingabire, her imprisoned wife, the first contacts he made were unsuccessful.

Though Victoire Ingabire had decided to adopt Cynthia, and asked her family to do everything to get her helped because herself could not do much from prison, I don’t think she thought she could get her sent out of Rwanda to be with her family in The Netherlands. Even if adoption of Rwandan children by foreigners is possible, knowing that Cynthia was being adopted by Victoire Ingabire, for political reasons, Rwandan authorities would’ve stopped the child from travelling abroad to live there in her adoptive family.

As a consequence of such context, Cynthia was to be helped inside Rwanda, if she had to. Cynthia has found a shelter where she is growing up well. At the time of writing these lines, she is 5 years old. She is allowed to visit her two mothers in prison, the adoptive and the natural one.

The story of Cynthia portrays the picture of the context that Rwandans in general experience continuously, whatever their age, or their walk of life. RPF does not allow them to have a normal family environment. Family members are deliberately killed, forced into exile, disappear, imprisoned, dispossessed, turned against each other the structures of oppression. All these actions on the part of Kagame’s government and political party, are undertaken to make citizens mentally unstable, and therefore incapable of thinking rationally, and eventually discovering all the lies they are fed daily by the system. The fear of RPF is that if Rwandans were left to think rationally, they could make it pay for all the wrong it did to them since October 1st, 1990.

The question I end this note with is this: Can really anyone develop themselves or make some progress if they cannot think with a stable mind? The new king of Rwanda strongly believes they can and and according to his propaganda machine they are extremely developing. Unfortunately, his development is only talked about and lived in his mind, because most Rwandans like Cynthia are not seeing any face of if.

Ambrose Nzeyimana