Rwanda 74 Years Later: The Story of a Country Dedicated to Christ the King 

Late King Mutara III Rudahigwa and the Catholic Church leaders in Rwanda

It was a good Sunday of October 27 during a celebration King Mutara III Rudahigwa had been looking forward to.

During the Mass service at Nyanza Roman Catholic Church – Southern Province, the King, in front of the Blessed Sacrament took the floor and said a prayer.

King Mutara III Rudahigwa who had been baptized Charles Leon Pierre three years earlier –October 1943 started as saying: “Lord Jesus, King of all men and all nations, I Mutara Charles Leon Pierre, I bow to you and to your mother, the Virgin Mary, Queen of heaven and earth. I acknowledge that You are the sovereign Master of Rwanda, the root from which all power and spell power.”

According to another abstract the King Mutara III Rudahigwa said: “Now that we know you, we acknowledge publicly that You are our Master and our King. Lord I give you my country and myself. Do men love their country of Rwanda. They apply to the advance and make it a reign of peace you have brought to the world.”

Pastor Ezra Mpyisi, a senior citizen and one of a few people who have firsthand information on Rwanda under the monarchy was there.

The prayer indicated to him that King Mutara III Rudahigwa “had become a devoted Christian more than I had believed.”

Pastor Ezra Mpyisi

However, the prayer met with mixed reactions in that time since it after all came 16 years after his father King Yuhi V Musinga allegedly “cursed his children [including Rudahigwa]” for converting themselves to Christianity.

“People misquoted King Mutara III Rudahigwa; they thought he dedicated the country to the Pope and the Catholic Church, but he dedicated it to Christ, not the church,” Mpyisi said.

“He had a greater understanding of the Kingdom of Christ more than anyone else; not event priests in the country could understand and differentiate Christianity and Catholicism, but for the King, everything was clear.”

Dr Nkaka Raphael, a historian says, that the King dedicating Rwanda to Christ the King, “did not mean that he gave away the country. Rwanda remained in its place and continued to belong to Rwandans, did not go anywhere.”

“His was an acceptance that Rwanda was created by God and belonged to Christ.”

Giving it a context, however, Nkaka said that the dedication of the country to Christ the King, “was an event that meant that the country had changed and had embraced Christianism which was not the case under the rule of his father Yuhi V Musinga.”

Nkaka recalls that after this event, “the Holy See was very happy and the Pope decorated the king with a medal.”

Also back home, Nkaka says that some individual people had started joining hands seeking to have King Mutara III Rudahigwa deposited, saying that he was against the Belgium rule.

“They include Brother Secundien who was director of Groupe Scolaire Astrida and Eugene Jungers, the then governor of Rwanda-Urundi,” Nkaka said quoting Kinyamateka edition of that time and Father Alexis Kagame in his article “Importantes Manifestation Religieuses au Rwanda from a magazine called ‘Zaïre’ pp84-88.

Jungers was General Vice-governor and Governor of the Territories of Rwanda-Urundi, from 1932 to 1946.

After the event, it became clear that King’s enemies were wrong. Secundien would be transferred elsewhere and Jungers to Congo Belge.

The 1994 Genocide against Tutsi – Who Is who Among Christians?

A lot happened to this country that was dedicated to Christ the King until the death of Mutara III Rudahigwa in July 1959 in Bujumbura and onward. Until today, a number of events may show that the country he wanted to have peace struggled to be stable until recently.

Portion of Memorial wall at Kigali Genocide memorial centre

Most of the challenges the country faced are blamed on, among others, those that were supposed to know the Kingdom of Christ to whom the prayer was addressed.

From the official abolition of Kingdom in Rwanda in 1961, the regime of Glegoire Kayibanda who attended the school of the missionaries-the Minor Seminary Saint Leon in current Muhanga district and the Grand Seminary of Nyakibanda-Huye district spread hostilities.

This continued during the second republic with the regime of Juvénal Habyarimana, their common denominator being regionalism, and other types of segregations.

One part of the population, the Tutsi was the main victim of this; they saw their houses torched and several family members killed. They fled Rwanda to neighboring countries and those that did not manage to escape faced persecution through decades.

However, the culture of impunity was common trend for every Rwandan.

The 1994 Genocide committed against Tutsi where more than 1 million Tutsi were killed in three consecutive months –April to early July became an unquestionable event that came to question/test the Christianity in the country and how the community would have understood the ‘blessing’ King Mutara III Rudahigwa would have wanted Rwanda to have.

In one abstract, King Mutara had prayed: “That all the leaders of the Rwanda govern this country in justice. All their judgments are impartial. They do not reflect any preference, so none of my people is not prejudiced. Abandon any deception, any bitterness and hatred. Between them, there may be no parties, but all are united in charity.”

The Genocide was all but contrary to this prayer because it became the culmination of injustice and hatred.

Father Wenceslas Munyeshyaka(Left) from Saint Famille Church was among the mastermind of the Genocide according to several testimonies

Planning and participating in the Genocide largely included the people who used to preach the Good News of Christ the King. Both the International Criminal Tribunal and Rwandan courts have several cases of Pastors and priests who got involved in the Genocide.

While some are already serving a jail sentence after they were found guilty of Genocide crimes, some others are still on the run while others are still serving as Priest of the Almighty God, the father of Christ the King.

FR Munyeshyaka(Right) is said to be ministering in France

Nkaka is not surprised that people would live contrary to what they claim to be-as Christians. He recalls the joke of people who don’t lead by example which goes like “Do what I say, not what I do.”

Meanwhile, when King Mutara III Rudahigwa dedicated Rwanda to Christ, quite a handful faith based organisations had already settled in Rwanda.

The number has tremendously increased. According to the Annual report of the Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) 2019-2020, there are in Rwanda 771 faith based organisations which are predominantly Christian organizations.

However, Mpyisi who heard the King’s Prayer is disappointed that the Christians do not know Christ the King.

“We tell them in vain-they don’t want to live according to Christ the King,” he said.

Despite the prayer of the King and dedication of Rwanda to Christ however, and, in spite the increase of faith-based organisations in the country, Rwanda is a secular Republic according to Rwanda’s constitution in its chapter II, article 4.

However, the love, peace and harmony, unity King Mutara III Rudahigwa prayed for is now taking shape in Rwanda since July 1994 when the genocide was stopped and the country started putting forward unity and a reconciliation-and common identity as Rwandans.

Meanwhile, the deeds of the King were not limited to the prayer in Nyanza; he achieved a lot for the country which gave him merit to be honored among national heroes, the category of Imena.

The justice he wanted the country to have is taking shape. As for Pastor Mpyisi, he believes that “If Rwanda is miraculously transforming and recovering from the scars of the Genocide against Tutsi, it’s because the Mwami dedicated it to Christ the King. God loves Rwanda, Christ continues to watch after Rwanda, his country.”




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