The former Minister of Sports and Culture, Joseph ‘Joe’ Habineza, has passed on at the age of 57, KT Press has learnt. The former Minister and Ambassador to Nigeria, is reported to have passed on in Nairobi, Kenya, where he had made a stop over to meet friends and family, enroute to Europe on a business trip.
Family sources indicate that Habineza, who was dropped from cabinet in February 2015, felt unwell in Nairobi and his brother Jonas checked him in the hospital on August 18, for what he thought would be a routine check up, and was supposed to be discharged this Friday but his condition deteriorated and later breathed his last.
Habineza, who has been actively posting on social media, until August 17, had just celebrated 33 years of marriage, sharing a photo of himself and the wife.
Known for his flamboyant and free-spirited lifestyle, Habineza was at the time of his death self-employed, working as a ‘Microinsurance Master’, shuttling between Rwanda and Nigeria, where he had interests in Bayelsa State. Until August 2020, he was the Chief Executive Officer of Radiant Yacu Ltd.
His first stint as the Minister of Sports and Culture started in March 2008 and ended in February 2011, when he was relieved of his duties amid a scandal involving leaked personal photos. He bounced back in July 2011 as Rwanda’s High Commissioner to Nigeria and six other countries, until July 2014 when he was reappointed as Minister in the previous docket he held. Eight months later he was dropped again.
He was credited by many for his efforts to reinvigorate sports and supporting youth-led initiatives. His social personality and charm endeared him to many. Prior to working for the Government of Rwanda, Habineza worked with Heineken for many years. Last year he also tried his hand at music, releasing his first song ‘One song, One nation’, which got many talking about his versatility.
On August 17 he had also shared a photo of himself and Jacob Desvarieux, bidding farewell to the French singer and a founding member of the band Kassav’, who passed on July 30 due to Covid-19.