Rwandan poet Innocent Bahati went missing on February 7, 2021, and remains unaccounted for. BBC Gahuza was one of the news outlets which reported that the 26-year-old poet disappeared without a trace on the evening of February 7, 2021. Bahati’s roommate, fellow poet Junior Rumaga, confirmed that Bahati attended dinner with an associate at a hotel in Nyanza District, in Rwanda’s Southern Province and did not return home to Kigali after the meeting. During the evening of February 7, Bahati’s phone turned off and his roommate was unable to reach him.
Bahati is a nationally recognized poet and technology instructor at Green Hills Academy in Kigali, Rwanda. The Academy is owned by General Paul Kagame’s wife, Madam Jeanette Kagame Nyiramongi. Bahati writes poetry about political issues such as autocratic rule, repression, and poverty – some of the topics that only the most courageous people dare discuss in Kagame’s Rwanda. An anonymous friend of Bahati described him as follows:
“This young poet was my friend, we met each other face to face more than 4 times in 2018 in workshops and poetic events…He was so brilliant in poetry especially with his kinyarwanda poems. He was the only poet from Rwanda who dared to address societal issues fearlessly and publicly in his poems, something which made us fearful but at the level that we did not think that his poems can lead to his disappearance. After knowing that he was abducted, we are in shock but no one among his fellow poets can dare to say anything about this young poet again because they are afraid that among his fellow poets there are spies who played the role in his abduction.”
This is terrible. Bahati may have been killed – one year after we lost Kizito Mihigo, another brilliant artist who was murdered in police custody on February 17, 2020. Kagame is finishing our young people, especially our bright artists. Lord save Rwanda. We pray that somehow Bahati is still alive.
Listen to two of Bahati’s poems published on his YouTube channel below: