KICUKIRO - Bishop John Rucyahana was yesterday welcomed by hundreds of people, most of them members of his congregation, friends and fans on his return from the US where he received the William Wilberforce Award.
Rucyahana is the first African to receive the William Wilberforce Award. Accompanied by his wife Harriet, the Bishop of Shyira Diocese of the Anglican Church in the Northern Province, was given the award in recognition of his efforts in reconciling Rwandans after the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis.
Upon arrival, there was a virtual stampede at the airport by well wishers who turned up to welcome the Bishop. A large number of people, who had waited patiently at the airport for Rucyahana for about three hours, cheered him as he emerged out of the terminal to the beat of drums and gospel music.
In a brief interview at the airport tarmac, the elated Rucyahana excitedly explained that he received the award for his commitment in fighting for people’s rights and his role in reconstructing the Rwandan society.
“It’s a great joy that I share with people of my country; it’s an encouragement because this award has always been going to famous people in the world, including American Senators.”
The award is named in honour of William Wilberforce, an English Statesman who waged a 40-year campaign against the slave trade in United Kingdom.
It also awarded to people making a positive change in the values and character of society, reforming manners through personal witness, example and education.
Meanwhile, the Bishop has also been honoured with another award- the Russell L. Brown Climate of Excellence in Leadership international award.
Commenting on the new award, the Bishop said it is given to people who have exhibited good leadership in society and that the nominating committee considered his role in society, way back when he was living in Uganda as a refugee to when he returned, home to Rwanda.
The Russell L. Brown Award is also given to a person who cares for the children of his country and raises the young future leaders.
According to Rucyahana, he managed to educate many children while in exile, most of them now university graduates. To date he has over 1,000 children he is taking care of.
On the advocacy front Bishop Rucyahana is working through his organisation in prisons where he encourages prisoners to admit and confess their crimes.
He is also a founder of the Umuvumu Tree Project and also Chairman of Hope Rwanda and Prison Fellowship Rwanda.