Senator calls for repatriation of former king Musinga's remains

Vice president of Senate Jeanne d’Arc Gakuba has called upon all concerned organs to marshal efforts to ensure the repatriation of the remains of former King of Rwanda, Yuhi V Musinga.

Vice president of Senate Jeanne d’Arc Gakuba has called upon all concerned organs to marshal efforts to ensure the repatriation of the remains of former King of Rwanda, Yuhi V Musinga.

Musinga, who is the father of Kigeli V Ndahindurwa, the last Rwandan monarch, and his brother Mutara III Rudahigwa who ruled before him, was banished from the then kingdom by White Missionaries, and later died in the eastern DR Congo.

It is said that after the king passed on, his body was flown to Belgium by the colonial administration.

Senator Gakuba raised the concern this week, as the Senatorial Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Human Rights and Petitions, presented a report on the state of the national archives.

According to Gakuba, the remains of the deceased monarch form an important part of the national archive and they should be returned home.

Musinga ruled Rwanda from 1896 to 1931.

“We have many documents and artifacts which are still outside of the country, why can’t we bring them back to Rwanda? They are ours, if they want to keep copies, fine but the originals belong here,” she said.

“As you also know the body of King Musinga is still in Belgium, why is he still there? He was a king of Rwandans and not a king of Belgium, we have the right to claim for his body,” Gakuba said.

Several senators added their voice saying that government should devise means to repatriate all of its historical documents and other items that are still abroad.

“Several items are still in other countries, mainly colonial states. As we know, at the beginning, Rwanda was colonised by Germany, do we have those documents? Later we were colonized by Belgium, do we have those documents?” wondered senator Richard Sezibera.

Way forward

In an interview with Saturday New Times, Elias Kizali, the head of national archives services in the Ministry of Sports and Culture (MINISPOC), said that different government institutions are in the process of handling all the issues raised.

“MINISPOC, the museums institute and other stakeholders started to work jointly to find the best way we can reclaim all our archives abroad, including the body of King Musinga, what I can tell you is that this issue needs a lot of support from other entities like our embassies overseas,” he said.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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