March 25 turned an evening of reunion, full of emotions when Saint Albert Alumni from Rwanda gathered to recite their memories of love and solidarity of a community the home country did not wish well.
College Saint Albert from Bujumbura, Burundi was found by Rwandan refugee students in Belgium, nearly six decades ago – November 15, 1963.
The objective was to provide education for the Rwandan child refugees in Burundi who had fled anti-Tutsi crisis which started in 1959 with killings of innocent souls in Rwanda.
Fifty nine(59) down the road, the men and women who attended the school have grown up and are serving the home country in different capacities, and those include First Lady of Rwanda Mrs. Jeannette Kagame.
On Friday, under their organisation of ‘Club Solidarite Saint Albert’, the Alumni launched a book, the first of its kind. The book was given a title that reflects that love and commitment to save compatriots in struggle “Le College Saint Albert de Bujumbura, Un Monument de la Solidarite Humaine”.
This can be loosely translated as College Saint Albert, A Monument of Humankind Solidarity.
In her speech, the First Lady recalled the past of this school, the determination they had to study hard and their dream to grow into important people whose idea of returning to the motherland was however almost uncertain.
She therefore was thankful to see them in numbers back home despite that sad past of uncertainty and humiliation.
“Today, we celebrate our return and pay tribute to individuals and one of the institutions which made this return possible,” the First Lady said.
In all those past trials, the First Lady said that they were protected by the shield of unshakable zeal to overcome the tumultuous days.
“At College Saint Albert, the cost of change which characterised several souls among us was a compelling academic, ethical and cultural commitment,” she said.
The First Lady further praised their teachers at Saint Albert, who, despite being barely elder than their students knew to embrace their time and to establish a rigorous and diversified training for every student.
Most importantly, she praised them for having left their comfort in foreign countries to come to serve fellow refugees in Bujumbura, at no remuneration.
“Dear teachers, some of your former students here present have children who have your age when you came to Bujumbura after prestigious schools abroad,” said the First Lady.
“You made an admirable choice to feed our own with knowledge and values with fervour and esteem, and in all this, free of charge.”
And the First Lady made a promise:” We shall never forget that.”
The First Lady, through her speech quoted some passages in the book and insisted on the school’s strong legacy.
“Honourable Tito Rutaremara writes: Every student graduating from Saint Albert would go out straight without shame, but with pride of being Rwandan,” the First Lady quoted adding that none can afford to steal their Rwandanness.
The First Lady, also showing what they book represents in their life and the life of a community at large, said that, among others, “this book that was long awaited by many of us, honours the triumph of a whole country over ethnic division. It narrates the splendid of good deeds, of victory of harmony over hatred.”