Augustine Kamegeri, a popular resident in Bwerankori cell, Nyamasheke sector in Karongi district alleges to have baptised himself.
The 84 year old man was conceived that he would baptize himself since he had been disappointed by a Hutu pastor. The man of God reportedly refused to lay hands on Kamegeri because of his role he played in the 1994 Genocide of protecting Tutsis from angry Hutus.
“I pleaded with the pastor but he refused saying that I had betrayed my own tribe,” Kamegeri says.
Married to two women, Kamegeri woke up one day and walked towards the shores of Lake Kivu in Karongi and baptised himself in the presence of his first wife, Margaret Nyirarudodo.
“My wife was my deacon, I baptised myself in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and I immersed myself into the waters. I believe God is an understanding master,” Kamegeri remembers.
Usually, church leaders such as pastors, bishops, and fathers have an obligation to baptize believers however, this pastor failed to do God’s work in the name of divisionism. He accuses and questions Kamegeri’s innocence and tolerance.
Kamegeri says, he challenge anyone who doubts that he did something wrong leave alone going to heaven, adding that his Christian name is Augustine and is now fully Christian.
However, Kamegeri’s act is highly condemned by religious leaders and many think he was misled in to doing something wrong and against Christianity.
Pastor James Kabagambe of Prayer Palace Church, Remera in charge of baptism told The New Times that no one is authorised to baptise himself.
Kabagambe says that clergies anointed by the Holy Spirit are the only ones supposed to people but not anybody or someone baptizing him/herself.
Elizée Rugambarara, a pastor at New Life Bible Church Remera also highly condemned the act saying, it is not biblical for anyone to baptise himself.
Rugambarara added that it’s only a religious leader filled with Holy Spirit that is charged with baptising willing believers.
Else where, reports from Associated Press (AP) indicate that a man one time poured gasoline on himself and set himself ablaze claiming that he was baptising himself with fire.
In June 5, 1991, The New York Times published this story credited to Associated Press that this man was suspected to be a religious fanatic.
“He was probably a religious fanatic, He said he baptised himself with fire,” Fire Lieut Tom Woytasczyk is quoted to have said.
“He just kept walking around in flames,” Sal Gomez a tourist from New Mexico who videotaped the incidence told the press then.
The man later survived but suffered burns over 80 percent of his body. Baptism, one of the seven sacraments in catholic religion is widely practiced by all Christians.
It is an act that was started by John the Baptist; the Holy Bible also baptised Jesus Christ who is believed to be the way, the truth and life.
Ordinarily; baptism is regarded as a sign of being born again; it is one the prerequisites of joining heaven, according to the Christian Holy book, The Bible. Kamegeri become popular for having rescued over 70 Tutsis in 1994 Genocide using his boat.
“My grandfather was a chief, I quite an integrity person so I did not see any reason of killing one another, we are all Rwandans,” the old man explained how he came up with the idea of rescuing people in the 1994 Genocide.
Kamegeri has been recognized by genocide survivors association IBUKA as a hero for having saved his fellow blood brothers and sisters. However, others have hated him for testifying in Gacaca traditional courts.
“People have told me I am a fool, asking me why I saved many lives of Tutsis who had caused them a lot of suffering,” Kamegeri laments.
He recalls the terrifying times when the liberation war was getting to its climax and militias Intarahamwe were running from the public to bushes with machetes killing thousands of innocent people.
Kamageri with 14 others including 6 women from different areas were recently honored and given a solemn recognition for the good heart of rescuing lives in the 1994 genocide.
Benoît Kaboyi, the executive secretary of the survivors association IBUKA is quoted to have said that people like Augustine Kamageri were ordinary people then, who had neither the money, nor the power but made sure that they rescues fellow Rwandans from facing death in 1994.