The last time Linah Keza visited Rwanda, she carried an extraordinary desire to tour the entire country.
Together with her daughter, Holly, she went on a countrywide tour that took her to every corner of Rwanda, visiting every person in her life – family members, childhood friends and former school mates. That was in December 2012 to January this year.
“It was as if she was touring the country for the last time and saying goodbye to us all – friends and family,” her brother, Jack Hodari, said.
“She was with us last Christmas and the whole of January and went back to UK on February 10. It looked like a farewell…,” he added.
Neither the loved ones she visited nor Linah knew that it was the last she would see of her country. Indeed, the sad events of this week turned this visit the very last in her life after a former boyfriend broke into her flat and stabbed her to death in the wee hours of Wednesday as her three-year-old daughter watched in shock.
So unusual was Keza’s craving to visit every corner of Rwanda that she even found time to pass by a salon she patronised when she still lived in the country six years ago.
Linda Mbabazi, a former schoolmate at Rwanda International Academy (now Kagarama Secondary School), recalled how they bumped into each other in a salon where they had both gone to have their nails worked on. It turned out that this particular salon was Keza’s favourite when she lived in Rwanda. “She was the same jovial, warm and kind girl I was with at school,” Mbabazi recalls.
There has been outpouring of grief on social media ever since the murder of the 29-year-old former Miss Africa contestant in her home in Leyton, a London suburb.
“She was a good person who welcomed everybody with a warm heart,” Mbabazi adds.
She is remembered by former schoolmates as a prayerful and God-fearing person who sang in school and church choirs.
A beautiful and hardworking daughter of Pastor Daniel Nyirindirimana of Rwamagana, Keza carried her natural kindness and love to the United Kingdom where she had lived since 2007, friends and relatives said.
On Facebook, a neighbour described her as “an extremely loving mother” and that Keza and her daughter were always “inseparable.” So inseparable were the two that little Holly did witness the mother breathe her last in a pool of blood as the suspected killer, David Kikawa, fled the crime scene. Kikawa, who is actually Holly’s father, stabbed Keza in the chest, according to a post-mortem released by the London police on Thursday.
Gikawa, a 38-year-old Ugandan, has since handed himself to police and was expected to be charged with the murder of a renowned model.
Her last words
Keza was always aware that her life was in danger from a cruel man she had chosen to put behind her life. Yet even with a 24-hour police watch, using a panic baton, she became a victim of a man who could not let her live her life.
In one of her last posts on Facebook, she warns all against making up with a former lover. “Never go back to your EX. It’s like reading the same book over and over again yet you know the ending...” Perhaps predicting danger, little did she know her dangerous “EX” was plotting her demise.
Yet, even in eminent danger, Keza still did not harbor bitterness. In a Facebook post made on July 8, she said: “…I have been trying to make other people happy at the cost of my happiness. But now I will live for myself and for my self- respect. I am not here to live up to anyone’s expectations. I will not allow anyone to take me for granted anymore because I will never be a victim of deceit or manipulations... You can win my heart with love but I will never be a victim of anyone’s selfish motives. I have my own unique personality and I am confident that I can handle my life beautifully. Amen.”
Indeed, Linah refused to bow to intimidation and bullying. For firm stand against injustice, she paid the ultimate price.