Kizito Mihigo went from bringing joy to being used

"Kizito, I don't judge your deed. See how your death is being exploited by the enemies of your homeland. Nothing is more destructive than never being satisfied with who you are and what you have." — Yolande Mukagasana 


Kizito Mihigo was a survivor of the Genocide against the Tutsi. I met him in Belgium, he came looking for me, he wanted us to meet. He never called me by name, not because he didn't know it, but I think it was out of respect.

At my house, I had the impression that he felt at home but far from his own. He gave me the impression of a boy full of ambitions for his music that he loved above all. Kizito told me how he survived the Genocide, and also how he ended up in Belgium, thanks to the help of President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, to whom he was deeply grateful.

His dream was to finish his studies, return to Rwanda and create a music school. He told me that he studied music in Belgium before studying at the Conservatoire de Paris. I really thought I knew everything about him.

I can also not forget that sometimes I had to bang on the table to bring him back to reason because he had started to sing in various events including a 6 April commemoration mass organized by genocide revisionists who habitually sowed doubt about the commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi observed on 7 April.

During this mass, they put forth the double genocide theory. It was unbearable to me but I attributed this to his youthful naivety and his love of music. I will never judge Kizito for his suicide because we all live with our own wounds inflicted by the Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda, which we survived. Kizito seemed to live in a dream. When you live in a dream and the dream collapses, you are capable of everything out of despair, because you see no way out.

A flashback that may seem insignificant to you but that I hold dear, Kizito was the only person who accompanied me to Zaventem airport when I left Belgium to resettle in Rwanda. I was very touched. I will always be grateful to him. He said to me: you are leaving; I will join you.

He had my phone number in Rwanda, he promised to call me as soon as he returned. I never knew when he got home because he never called me. I met him in Kigali by chance more than two years after his return, I found him surprisingly very distant. It’s like he had his nose in the air, from where he looked down on me! I was surprised by this callous change of attitude towards me.

I heard Kizito's song that had been released on YouTube the previous day "Igisobanuro cy'urupfu". In English, this translates to “the explanation of death” I couldn't believe my ears. I didn’t recognize Kizito in the lyrics of this song, which ran contrary to our conversations about Genocide, revisionism, and negationism.

I listened to this song over and over again to make sure that it was Kizito singing. I immediately decided to call Kizito. He was kind enough to take my call, this confirmed to me that he was no longer the boy I had known in Europe. He had become another. (I was bothering him?) When I asked him why he composed a revisionist song about the Genocide, he defended it.

I told him that it is hurtful for survivors and in support of genocidaires, revisionists, and negationists. He didn’t have an answer. I asked him if the death of his family during the Genocide was the same as that caused by an accident or illness, he still had no answer and hang up.

Frustrated, I told my friends who knew Kizito about it and my decision to leave him to his stupidity with his friends. Because my friends insisted, I decided to call him back. He didn't answer. I harassed him for a response.

He ended up telling me angrily that if I wanted to talk to him I should make an appointment at his office reception. Stunned, I said: Kizito, excuse me, I won't bother you anymore. You can delete my number; I will do the same with yours because I think we have nothing more to say to each other. This was the last time I spoke to Kizito.

I had a trip abroad the next day and when I returned, Kizito was in jail for treason and conspiracy against his country, he pleaded guilty! Whether you like Kizito or not, nothing can and nothing will change the situation. He is no longer and will never be there again.

He stuck a knife in the wounds of the survivors like me who loved him, who believed in him. Above all, he tarnished the death of his father and betrayed the memory of the Genocide against the Tutsi.

He plunged his mother back into the wounds of the Genocide which will never heal because the loss of her child is singular anguish, and yet another wound. As for those who say that he worked for peace, do you think that if he came back would he be proud to read all the comments about him?

Social media, some NGOs and even foreign radios say that you were a political opponent in the country. Let’s say this was true, what political weight did you have so that our President, who had taken you under his wing like his son, would think of killing you, he who had forgiven you the unforgivable? Something that I would maybe not be capable of doing. 

Personally I think that if you worked with the enemies of your country, apart from making you a tool of your own destruction, of the negation of your own life, your history, and your identity, they did nothing for you. Unfortunately, you are not the only one.

Those who exploited you against yourself can rejoice because for me you are one more victim of the Genocide.

Kizito, I’m not judging your deed. Either you always lied to me without me knowing it, or I never understood who you really were. If you can see us from the beyond, look at how your death is being used by the enemies of your country.

Today, my anger against you has transformed into pity because I am now convinced that nothing is more destructive than never being satisfied with who you are and what you have.  

Yolande Mukagasana, Rwandan author, activist, and survivor of the Genocide against the Tutsi.

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