When Genocide deprived Rwanda of famous football commentator

While the media played a key role in inciting Rwandans to participate in 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, a number of Tutsi journalists were not spared. The slain journalists left behind a legacy, and indeed a lesson for humanity.
Viateur Kalinda. (Courtesy)
Viateur Kalinda. (Courtesy)

While the media played a key role in inciting Rwandans to participate in 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, a number of Tutsi journalists were not spared. The slain journalists left behind a legacy, and indeed a lesson for humanity.

In 2011, the Media High Council (MHC) released a list of 50 names of journalists killed during the Genocide. Forty-three were practicing journalists affiliated to several media houses, the other seven were free lance.

To date, Rwanda still mourns, the slain journalists. For some like Viateur Kalinda, the memories are still fresh. He was a famous sports journalist with Radio Rwanda (Orinfor-current RBA).

The name Kalinda is very synonymous with football and goes back in the days when there was only one radio station in the country, Radio Rwanda.

Kalinda, (1952-1994) is also considered to be the man, who made a mark in the history of football reporting when he worked at the national broadcaster.

He created all the terminology, the verbs, the tone of reporting- that most of the sports journalist use on both public and private radio stations in Rwanda today.

Words like Ruhago (ball), Inshundura (goal net), Rwanyeganyeze (goal), Kurengura (throw-in), Urubuga rw’amahina (goal area), Umurongo w’aba gatanu (defensive line) and many more were Karlnda’s own making.

His style of reporting was one of a kind and he inspired many children, in the 80’s to desire sports reporting as a job. He was often referred to as a man with a big heart and with passion for sports.

The best sports reporter of his time, very famous, an icon, so loved and had a big fan base of football lovers but just like many Tutsi’s, Kalinda did not survive the genocide.

He topped the list of prominent, wanted Tutsis, even before the killings started. 

Following father’s footsteps

“It’s unbelievable, that my father’s fame and love from people as their best sports reporter, wasn’t reason enough to protect him from the Interahamwe, just because he was Tutsi,” says Kalinda’s eldest son, Thierry R. Nkubito.

Nkubito keeps his father’s legacy and memories. He has taken up his father’s career as a journalist, with the same institution (Orinfor-RBA) as a freelance news journalist, but intends to seek employment there after completing his studies. He is a student of journalism at the Catholic Institute of Kabgayi .

Nkubito might have to inherit his father’s name soon. He is often called Kalinda, by people who loved his father as a famous sports reporter, then.

“Almost everyone calls me by my father’s name, which is a sign that people still remember him. I believe changing to his name will help me to perfectly tread in his footsteps,” Nkubito says.

Journalists involved

Meanwhile, some media personalities planned and implemented the 1994 massacres, against the Tutsi, including their workmates.

Among the perpetrators is the former Speaker of Rwanda’s Parliament, Alfred Mukezamfura, who was sentenced to life imprisonment with special provisions, for his role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Mukezamfura, who was the parliamentary speaker for five years from 2003, was sentenced in absentia by the Gacaca Court of Nyakabanda sector, Nyarugenge district.

There has not been any clear information about journalists who were involved in the death of Kalinda.

His wife and three children continue with their research, of the person responsible for Kalinda’s murder, in 1994.

“They killed him, but as his off springs, who survived the genocide, we are carrying on his example of working for justice, love for people and commitment to achieve success,” says Nkubito.

“I have learnt to be patient like my father, live a life of simplicity and hold to the truth in all circumstances,” adds Nkubito.

Apart from his family, Kalinda still inspires many. He is gone but not forgotten, Rwanda’s young sports journalists look up to him.

“If you talk of Viateur Kalinda, it is like talking of football in Rwanda. He is still popular; some of us still admire to be like him.

We imitate everything he had as a reporter, his style, zeal, creativity, name it,” says Jean Claude Ndengeyingoma, a former sports reporter with Radio Rwanda.

Kalinda is also remembered for his hard work, commitment and excellence.

“I worked with Kalinda. His attitude, commitment and character were very special, one of a kind that we haven’t replaced, until now,” says Yussuf Kassim, one of the longest serving journalists at Radio Rwanda.

Kassim has served ORINFOR since the 70s.

Kalinda formed a work football team called Imboni za Orinfor, for which he was the captain.

No promotion

Though he worked hard, and had acquired various international journalism skills from Belgium, Kalinda could not be promoted at work, because he was Tutsi.

Amongst his recorded achievements, was Kalinda’s published book, “Rwanyeganyeze” (literally meaning shaken); here he put down the football rules, doctrines, and modules of sports reporting.

Even after the book, the greatest promotion Kalinda could get was a transfer to Byumba town-on the border of Uganda and Rwanda, to cover the war between the then government of Juvenal Habyarimana and the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF).

No sooner had Kalinda relocated to Byumba, than the genocide begun. He was among the Tutsi’s who had escaped to Kabgayi diocese, former Gitarama Province (now Muhanga district).

When life became hard for escapees, he and many Tutsis moved to Byimana sector in Ruhango district-where he apparently met his death, in May 1994.

Kalinda’s remains rest in Kabgayi genocide memorial, along with 25,000 other victims.


Journalists slain during the genocide: 

Orinfor: Tharcisse Rubwiriza, Medard Mwumvaneza, Cyprien Gasana, Claver Karake, Gracien Karambizi, Viateur Kalinda, Jean Baptitse Rudahangarwa, Andre Sebanani, Callixte Kalisa, Emmanuel Nsabimana, Jean Bosco Bucyana, Felix Mbunda, Jean Claude Munyarigoga, Eudes Nshimiyiryo

Le Partisan: Aprodice Habineza

Le Tribun du Peuple: Eugene Mukama, Wilson Hategikimana, Eugene Gakwaya, Jean Claude Rugaju

Le Flambeau: Obed Bazimaziki, Gilbert Munana

Rafiki: Octave Kayihura, Alexis Ntaganzwa

Kinyamateka: Sylvestre Nkubiri, Clement Muganza, Beduwa Kayinamura

Le Soleil: Marcelin Kayiranga, Jean d’Arc Mukamusoni, Prisca Burasa

Isibo: Nehemie Mureramanzi, Kanyarwanda: Joel Ndikumana, Donat Mutesa

Kanguka: Vincent Rwabukwisi, Wellars Mbaraga Kiberinka:Vincent Shabakaka, Aloys Nyimbuzi, Theotime Kamanayo

Rwanda Rushya: Martin Kamurase, Joseph Mudatsikira, Andre Kameya

L’observateur: Bernard Munyakazi

Freelancers: Sixbert Mbuguje, Winifrid Mukamana, Emmanuel Rukundo, Emmanuel Rutsindura, Alphonse Rutsindura, Claude Rwemarika and Felix Twagiramungu.


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