Friday, December 8, 2023

Tribute to my father

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By Guillaume Kavaruganda, Minister Counsellor, Embassy of the Republic of Rwanda.

On April 7, 1994 my father was killed. Twenty years has passed and it is as if it was yesterday. My father was among the first victims of the genocide that happened in Rwanda 1994. At that time I was concluding my law studies in Italy in the City of Perugia. In early morning, I got a phone call from my sister Juliette, who was at the time studying Political Science in Belgium. She was the one who told me the sad news. From then all my life changed drastically. My father left behind a wife and five children. We had never overcome his passing away in an unusual manner.

Since the world was created, death has been part of the human beings. Few human beings have succeeded to accept death, especially the one of their loved ones. We celebrate when a child is born and yet we forget that one day he will depart as he had just come into existence.

My grandmother, (on my mother side), died at 105 years old for old age/natural causes. For an African lady lasting that long is indeed exceptional. Life expectancy in Rwanda is less than 60 years old for women. It is even much less for men. When I came home, I was unaware of the passing away of my grandmother. I found my mother crying. I asked her what has happened. With lots of tears in her eyes, she told me the fate of my grandmother. I was then a young man, and I asked her tactlessly how come one can be so sad for the one who passed away at 105 years. I did not wait her answer to notice how imprudent I was with my observation. Quite often young age goes alongside with stupidity! A passing away of a human being is always a sad event no matter what age the deceased had.

If we agree with the principle, we have also to agree that it is more difficult to accept the death of a human caused by the killing of other humans. The suffering of the people close to the one killed is beyond imagination.

 Who was my father? My father was born in May 1, 1935 at 40 kilometers from the Capital of Rwanda named Kigali. He saw the sun on the hill called “Va’’ and in suburbs of ‘‘Ruganda’’. He was named Kavaruganda which means/ in our mother language/ the one who came from Ruganda. His first name was Joseph. He studied law and finished his PhD in Belgium in 1966; worked in the Rwanda Ministry of Foreign Affairs for 3 years; became a CEO of the Caisse d’Epargne du Rwanda for one year; Headed the National Prosecution Office of the Republic of Rwanda for 7 years; and became the President of Constitutional Law and Court of Cassation in the Supreme Court for 13 years until his assassination on April 7, 1994. He was 59 years old.

My life was somehow an imitation of my father’s life. Both of us studied law, even though he obtained a PhD and I limited myself to a master degree in International Law and European Union laws from Louvain la Neuve University /in Belgium; both of us has worked in our Ministry of Foreign Affairs even though he has had different other jobs as I mentioned above; I only worked in foreign services for the last 15 years in Washington DC, Geneva, as the Head of Protocol in Foreign Affairs and as First Counsellor and then Minister Counsellor in Netherlands, a position that I still hold now. The choice of Diplomacy was not a coincidence for me; my father has told me in one of the many discussions we used to have, how the profession of diplomacy, if well done, can be an added value for the person who is exercising it. He was indeed right. I took from him the love of books even though I read mostly in English languages, contrary to him who used to read in French. My country shifted from French to English in 1998.

Even though I am of the view that we have to live our life as we personally intend it to be, I quite happen to wonder (if in case my father was still alive), if he would be proud of me now as a human being and of my achievements. Of course I do not know the answer. He would be the one to know. Who knows? Maybe!!!

Dear Father, May God Welcome you among his own!




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