Claude Dusaidi: His legacy lives on

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the passing away of Claude Dusaidi. The name might not ring a bell to some, but it has left an indelible mark to those who came to know and work with him.
The late Dusaidi.
The late Dusaidi.

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the passing away of Claude Dusaidi. The name might not ring a bell to some, but it has left an indelible mark to those who came to know and work with him.

Dusaidi’s prominence first came to light at the height of the 1994 Genocide as the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF)’s voice in North America where he was relentlessly drumming up support from the international community to put an end to the carnage.

He is best remembered for not mincing his words and a no-nonsense approach when it came to defending the plight of his people, be it in the media or within diplomatic circles.
On April 13, 1994, when the international community was busy wringing its fingers and undecided whether what was happening in Rwanda amounted to genocide, Dusaidi was a step ahead of them.

A UN-sponsored independent inquiry on the actions of the United Nations during the 1994 Genocide later had this to say: “The RPF Representative at the United Nations, Mr Claude Dusaidi, in his letter to the President of the Security Council, said that ‘a crime of genocide’ had been committed against the Rwandan people in the presence of a United Nations International force. He requested the Council to immediately set up a United Nations war crimes tribunal and apprehend those responsible for the massacres”.

His struggle to have the then genocidal government’s representative thrown off Rwanda’s seat in the Security Council is legendary within the corridors of the UN. This gave an insight into the kind of determination the new crop of leaders in Kigali had in their baggage.

Dusaidi always seemed to be in a hurry. It was as though he knew his time on this earth was limited and therefore had many things to accomplish before his time came. Despite his heavy schedule, he managed to open many development-oriented war fronts.

Perhaps what most people do not know is that Claude Dusaidi was the driving force in establishing The New Times back in September 1995. The daunting task was how to package an English language newspaper in what was a hitherto French and Kinyarwanda dominated environment.

As the first chairman of the board of The New Times Publications Sarl, he juggled his tight schedule to be at hand whenever needed, be it in his office, or late at night in his home. Many a midnight candle was burned in trying to build a young and struggling newspaper into the institution it is today.

Like the Greek mythical figure, Midas, everything Dusaidi touched seemed to turn into the proverbial gold. The Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) is another of his and a small number of people’s brainchild that it even has a dormitory named after him.

Alas, Dusaidi did not live long enough to see the fruits of his labour. Today KIST is a centre of excellence that rivals any institution of learning on the continent.

The New Times has grown to become the first and only daily in the country with a sister Kinyarwanda newspaper, Izuba. The three-month old vernacular paper currently comes out three times a week and aims at becoming a daily in the near future, another first.
From the initial skeleton staff of five people, The New Times Publications Sarl has transformed into a reputable media giant employing over a hundred people.

Dusaidi’s drive, fervour and vision for his country should set an example to others, be they in the public or private sectors; that in the face of adversity, sacrifice and selfishness can move mountains.

The legacy Claude Dusaidi left is not only reflected in KIST and The New Times, but his name is already etched in the annals of the liberation history of this country. It is no easy feat filling the shoes of a fearless combatant, diplomat and gentleman.

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