Thousands of people turned up to bid farewell to Kenny Mugabo Irakoze, a Grade 5 student of Path To Success International School who succumbed to injuries following a January 9 school bus accident in Kigarama, Rebero.
Mugabo, 11, was among the 27 people who were on the bus which lost control going down from Mt. Rebero to Kigarama sector, Kicukiro district, where the school is located, skidding off into a nearby forest.
The pupil, who was among the critically injured later succumbed to his injuries at CHUK where he was admitted, to the shock of parents and students alike, who turned up in big numbers to send him off. His passing saddening the whole country with many calling for a crackdown on school buses, most of which are in a poor mechanical state.
A gloomy atmosphere during the requiem mass held at ADEPR Remera Parish, characterised by tears and sadness as Mugabo’s parents, relatives, teachers and fellow pupils said their final goodbyes to the young boy who was described by many as jolly, amiable and brilliant.
According to reports, Mugabo suffered a fatal injury to the inferior vena cava, a large vein that carries the deoxygenated blood from the lower and middle body to the heart. The blunt abdominal injury resulting from the crash affected his internal organs, which led to his passing.
Speaking at the requiem mass, Gad Niyomugabo, Mugabo’s father, who works outside Rwanda had returned to spend the festive season with his family until the fateful accident took away what was a celebratory family reunion.
“The festive season had gone well until Monday morning. On Saturday, before the accident, I went with Kenny and the brother to play. I noticed he had greatly improved on the court as many from the school attested,”
“I was really impressed. I saw how he played with his brother and I was really enjoying my vacation. I am extremely sad. Losing a child is the most painful thing. I have lost people in my life before- parents, relatives, close friends, I have seen it all. It is the first time I am losing a child and I can tell you it is really painful,” he added.
Niyomugabo said however that the outpouring from the society and the country at large has helped them to deal with the grief, thanking the Government of Rwanda for closely following up.
“We have a country that takes care of its people, a country that empowers us and seeks to find solutions to challenges affecting the citizens, regardless of who they are. The entire country stood up for us, right from the President of the Republic strengthened us when the accident happened,”
“We have seen different leaders coming to check on us constantly when we were in hospital and even after the tragedy, from the Minister of Education to the head of the Traffic Department and many others who have been closely supporting us. That gives us strength too,” Niyomugabo said, adding that similarly coming from a prayerful family, they continue to seek strength from God.
Niyomugabo said that he believes that it is God’s calling because when it is not your time, you will not go anywhere. He recalled an accident which he survived with his wife and youngest child in 2020, which he said was worse but they somehow survived it, yet his son did not survive an accident that didn’t seem fatal at first.
“I believe when it is your time, you cannot change anything and that is what God wanted,” Niyomugabo said.
Gabriel Opare, the Principal of PTS, said that it was unfortunate that Mugabo was lost under the circumstances he died but also pointed out that it was God’s decision.
“For us he is a loss but to God he is a precious gain,” Opare said, paying tribute to the deceased pupil, on behalf of the entire school.
“Your passing has left an indelible scar on our administration, schools, families, your fellow colleagues and the nation at large,” Opare said, hailing Mugabo, who joined the school in September 2019, for his academic excellence and leadership.
He pointed out that during his time at the school, he exhibited that he was an all-round student who had a thirst for knowledge, desire for answers, teamwork, gifted hands and other capabilities that made him a special child.
Mugabo’s elder sister, Lucky, described him as a brother and friend, who always exhibited high levels of discipline and got along with everyone.
“He loved school, he was hardworking. Whatever he did, he did so with a lot of zeal, whether it is studying, eating or praying. He was so humble. Regardless of his age, he was responsible. We will miss him so much,” the sister said.
Mugabo was born on March 30, 2011 and studied in Senegal, Guinea and Congo Republic where he lived with his family.