President Paul Kagame has for the first time spoken out on the rumours surrounding the family of the late Maj. Gen Fred Rwigema, accusing a ‘neighbouring country’ of trying, for decades, to pit his family and that of the deceased freedom fighter.
The Head of State, while speaking at the wedding of Teta Gisa Rwigema, the daughter of the late Gen. Rwigema, on Saturday, November 6, said that for a long time he had ignored getting involved in the debates surrounding the family but he thought it was the right time to set the record straight.
In a speech that lasted nearly half an hour, President Kagame, without mentioning the name, said that a neighbouring country has been meddling in Rwanda’s affairs, to the extent of trying to influence the relations between his own family and that of Gen. Rwigema.
He however said that he ignored everything that was said because he knows how to pick his battles to avoid being caught in politicized debates, instead opting to continue providing for the family as he had promised.
He lamented the fact that Gen. Rwigema’s son, Eric Gisa Rwigema Jr. could not attend the wedding, which was held at Kigali Serena Hotel, in a way blaming the said neighbouring country and its leaders for trying to sow divisions through manipulation of truth.
“When I was looking around, I didn’t see Gisa’s son. He should be here,” President Kagame said, requesting the bride Teta, her mother Jeannette Rwigema and Gen. Rwigema’s mother to pass on the message to him to come back to his home country.
“I don’t wish to ever hear of Gisa’s son becoming a refugee or seeking asylum elsewhere. I ask you Teta, Jeannette and your grandmother to deliver my message to him that the country which his father, myself and many others fought for, is his home. He shouldn’t be seeking asylum outside. It’s not right,” President Kagame said.
He said that Rwigema Jr. shouldn’t be coming and stopping in the said neighbouring country and go back without visiting his home country. President Kagame said that he is free to come and go whenever he wishes but he should never be in exile.
President Kagame blamed the neighbouring country for attempting to antagonize the two families, giving a historical background of his friendship with the late Rwigema, going back to their families when they were little children.
“For many years they have interfered in the affairs of our country, sometimes going as far as manipulating people into believing that they can support them to change the status quo in Rwanda, undermining the country’s leadership,”
He pointed out that for many years he has attempted to engage in talks with the leadership of the said country but to no avail.
For more than two decades, the status of the family of the late Gen. Rwigema, which keeps a low profile, has been a subject of debate between Rwanda and Uganda, but President Kagame has for years refused to involve himself in the conversation.
He said that his name has been mentioned in many theories surrounding the Rwigema household, sometimes resulting in insults, blackmail and slander of his own name and family.
He partly blamed that on the patronising attitude of the said neighbouring country, which for many years boasted of helping Rwandans in the struggle to liberate their country.
President Kagame said that contrary to what is said, Rwandans fought and shed blood for their own country, emphasizing that it was not given to them on a silver platter as it is presumed.
“If they had handed us this country, people wouldn’t have died or shed blood in the struggle,” President Kagame said.
“They never created us and neither have they given us anything. Only God can claim to have made us who we are. We fought for this country on our own, it should be known from now,” President Kagame said.
In her speech, the late Rwigema’s widow, Jeannette, thanked President Kagame and the First Lady, Mrs. Jeannette Kagame, for always being there for them, pointing out that they have never lacked anything.
Mrs. Rwigema said that family got all the support they needed, including the education of the children and thanked God that the daughter’s wedding took place in Rwanda.
President Kagame also revealed that previously he sat down with Rwigema Jr. when he had completed his high school to discuss at length a number of issues but many things kept coming in between.
Rwigema Jr. is said to be living in the U.S but it was reported that he visits Uganda and goes back without passing in Rwanda. It is not clear what the issue is as he has not publicly spoken out on any issue.
President Kagame, who was invited by Mrs. Rwigema, apologised for bringing ‘politics’ in the wedding but said the he needed to clear the air on the many rumours that have been circulating around for many years.
He commended Teta for staying the course, pursuing her studies and returning home to work for her country. President Kagame also promised to support Teta and her husband Marvin Manzi in their new journey.
President Kagame was accompanied at the wedding by the First Lady and the First Daughter, Ange Kagame.