What hero’s day do we celebrate?

What hero’s day do we celebrate?

Noble MARARA

Behind the Presidential Curtains-President Paul Kagame, Rwanda

As Rwanda has just celebrated heros day I wanted to reflect on the good, the bad and the ugly of some of my experiences in the Presidential Guard and the RDA. The experiences I report on are mine and mine alone. I recall these incidents as I experienced them and all of the names remain the same. Sadly, most of the people in this curtain are either imprisoned or have been killed.

Captain Vedaste Kaitare was Fred Rwigyema’s Head of Guards and assistant, he was also the best commander of RPA until his assassination. Vedaste Kaitare who was nicknamed Intare, meaning a lion, was a man of jokes, enjoyed sports and storytelling including telling fairy tales to the younger soldiers. Captian Kaitare was also friendly to everyone he met and had been confirmed a colonel before his death. After Fred Rwigyema’s death Kaitare maintained his close relationship with Rwigyema’s family and as a responsible man he thought that looking after his boss’s family was a priority. Whenever Jeannete Rwigyema came to Mulindi private conversations and strong hugs were observed between Jeannete Rwigyema and Afande Kaitare. This was one of the things Afande Kagame did not like as he thought that the relationship might go further than a friendship. President Kagame and Fred Rwigyema grew up together and Rwigyema made him join the Ugandan forces in late 1990’s. President Kagame had always been very jealous to see Jeannette talk about Kaitare nonstop.

Kaitare developed more misunderstandings with President Kagame after he started objecting to Kagame’s ideas especially his use of slapping senior officers and abusive language. Kaitare had created two groups in the army, some commanders and especially the best fighters, believed in Kaitare, for example, Lt Col Karangwa, Lt Col Gashumba, who was killed by a landmine planted by Captain Donna I/O under President Kagame’s orders. Gashumba was a very young soldier and very committed to the RPA but would not take Kagame as a serious army officer to replace Fred Rwigyema, and so he would stand on his ideas and would not tolerate Kagame’s behaviours. Col William Bagire, and Nyamurangwa were very close to Kaitare, this made Kagame uncomfortable and caused the death of most of them including Kaitare himself. President Kagame found it uneasy to kill Kaitare with a landmine because he had a very good understanding of his surroundings and he was therefore the first victim of poisoning in RPA. His funeral was held in Rubaya and Rwigyema’s wife Jeanette attended, she was crying and said that the only husband she was left with was this one but he also gone. Also In attendace for Kaitare funeral was Colonel William Bagire, a long time compatriot of Kaitare  and James Kabarebe who was there to represent President Kagame who did not attend. Kabarebe was a very good commander but found himself dominated by Paul Kagame all his life and so he was just as much a victim as anybody else. I wondered how one man, Paul Kagame, would cause all these chaos.  Kaitare was greatly admired in the army by both the young and old.

Kaitare was a social man to everyone including his enemies. He had a very good conversation with Lt Colonel  Gratien Kabiligi, one of Habyalimana’s commanders during peace talks, this time no one ever thought of someone having a civil one-on-one conversation with an opponent like Gratien Kabiligi would be possible but he was able to bridge this gap.  Kaitare was truly an incredible man and loved by all. At some point he called Kagame a “mukene” which means injanga or the very skinny fish which Kaitare hated.  He always had jokes behind his lovely smile. He is the man who rescued Captain Muvunanyambo, Commander Biseruka, Major Theoneste Lizinde from Ruhengeri  Prision and he highly respected afande Chairman Colonel Alex Kanyarengwe and he remained loyal to all of them.

Kaitare was not convinced by the explanation he was given in regards to Captain Muvunanyambo’s death. He had rescued him together with others from Ruhengeri prison, but Captain Muvunanyambo was described as a soldier with a stinky attitude and unmanageable by afande Kagame. So, around late 1991-early 1992 in a village called Gahonndo, Muvunanyambo was killed by his own escort who was rewarded with the title of Lieutenant after the war. Muvunanyambo’s close body guard, a very young boy who was born in Uganda, was also killed with him because there was no way to rescue him as he had  become very close to Muvunanyambo and there was no way of informing him about the deal. I wonder where his loved ones think he went; obviously they think that he died fighting for his country!

When Kaitare asked about the death of Muvunanyambo he was informed that Muvunanyambo was escaping and going back to the enemy, they also stated that he had a radio call and he had been informing the enemy of our whereabouts. Kaitare declined to believe that lie and asked more questions of how and where he had access to the enemy radio.

Like his former boss Major General Fred Rwigyema, he believed that creating a relationship with whoever you are managing was the best way of working as a team. After Afande Kaitare’s death it was observed that there were more misunderstandings between the soldiers who had lived with him as well as his boss Fred Rwigyema.

There was continuation of persistent harassment of Kaitare/ Rwigyema’s former friends,  aides, escorts and assistants from either RPA or RPF. Note that, the few soldiers who had served with Kaitare/ Rwigyema and are now successful in the RPA, are those who had been manipulated for the betrayal.

Colonel Steven Ndugute Kalisoliso overall operation commander until his death in 1997. He died due to an injection by Dr. Richard Rutatina under the orders of President Kagame to have him killed due to President Kagame’s fears that Kalisoliso wanted to take over his position. Lt Colonel Adam Waswa was killed in a planned car accident in Lukaya, Uganda ordered by President Kagame due to his higher ranking. Waswa was a very friendly man and loved by everyone he interacted with.

Due to the continuing harassment, mistreatment and humiliation of Madame Jeannette Rwigyema by the RPF government, she has been burned from travelling and her passport held by the NSS, how on earth would Jeanette be treated like that? She now has decided to spend all her time in church not only as giving her soul but also as a coping strategy of the stressors she is experiencing, her telephone is monitored and she cannot make a call in private. A Ugandan ex-service man Major General Salim Saleh a.k.a  Akandwanaho  Rufu, also a brother of the President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni, was a very good friend to Major General Fred Rwigyema. They made a commitment when they were fighting, on the way back from Mozambique they agreed that if any one dies the other will stay in touch with their relatives, this continued after Rwigyema’s death. Rwigyemas children would visit Saleh’s and his wife would visit Uganda always. Around 1997 I picked Salim Saleh from the airport myself to visit Kagame and later visited Rwigyema’s family. It was also felt that the money Jeanette Rwigyema used to open a travel agency business was assistance from Saleh, Kagame did not like that as he was willing to pay for everything and so Jeannette was not allowed to work.

Salim Saleh and Jeannette Rwigyema’s contact became a very serious concern for Kagame, until he decided to build a house just behind his in a plot that belonged to one of former President Habyalimana’s (RIP) top generals just in front of Uwilingiyimana Agathe’s former address.

Fred Rwigyema is becoming forgotten slowly by slowly as President Kagame’s wish, he has changed the hero’s day to a different date so that we do not remember Fred Rwigyema as special as he was but like anybody who died during the liberation of our country. It is worrying that not many people understand President Kagame’s cruelty but I am sure on time people will come together and say no to Kagame’s regime.                                                                                                                                                                                                                               General Kayumba Nyamwasa was among the few officers who had obtained a Law degree In Makerere University in Uganda. Due to his education and his experience in the army he was the only senior officer who managed to put together the army and handled President Kagame’s weaknesses during the struggle from 1991-1994. Now in exile as well, Col Patrick Karegeya who also worked alongside President Kagame and General Nyamwasa. The war ended with 800,000 dead killed by the Interahamwe militias after the shooting down of President Juvenal Habyalimana’s which was shot down by RPA/RPF soldiers on the orders President Kagame himself. After President Kagame ended the war millions of Rwandans were forced to flee to neighboring countries and were followed by the RPA soldiers only to be killed (U.N. Mapping Report, 2010).

What hero’s day do we celebrate?

By:Noble MARARA

Source: JENNIFER FIERBERG, http://www.africaglobalvillage.com

 

 


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