“I sing peace and forgiveness, I launch a permanent call for reconciliation” – Kizito Mihigo
Again, this story has been played out before, this is not new and neither is it spectacular. A man who was detained three days ago, suddenly takes suicide in Prison is the official statement from Rwanda National Police. A man who was in isolation and in solitary confinement. After being charged with trying to illegal cross the borders into Burundi.
A man who has targeted the authorities, who has addressed the ills of the state of affairs. Been charged ten-years for treason in 2014 and Presidential Pardoned in 2018. Suddenly out of nowhere takes his own life in early 2020. That seems a bit too far-fetched that he would do that now. After all his been through.
“This Monday morning, Kizito was found dead in police cell at Remera Station. He was recently arrested while attempting to bribe his way out of the country illegally” (Rwanda Broadcasting Agency, 17.02.2020).
The one I am describing is the government critic and gospel singer Kizito Mihigo. We know how far the state goes in monitoring the lives of their dissidents as this 2017 report states:
“During the treason trial of singer Kizito Mihigo and journalist Cassien Ntamuhanga in April 2014, prosecutors allegedly adduced intercepted phone and skype messages from the accused expressing their dissatisfaction with the government and conspiring to overthrow it” (CIPESA – ‘Shadow Report on the State of Freedom of Expression Online in Rwanda’ 31.10.2017).
They are directly wire-tapping and using this material in courts to detain him. They were targeting the man an collecting evidence on him. That is what they state did. That is why the next article is interesting in the manner of things.
An article named “Nakandi: INVESTIGATION: BBC Journalist Nshimiyimana Genocide Files Leak” released on the 29th April 2014 says this: “According to Police records, on March 11, opposition Rwanda National Congress leader Callixte Nsabimana alias Sankara told Mihigo of a plan to secure the latter’s stay in London after releasing a series of songs backing the overthrow of Kagame’s government. The RNC official also showed Mihigo the message he had received from journalist Nshimiyimana. It read: “Reka nkwereke msg anyohereje. “Umubaze azaze anyure kuri BBC TV and radio. Bamukorera PR atigeze abona mbere (Let me show you the message he has sent. “Ask him to come and be on BBC TV and Radio. They will give him the kind of PR he has never seen.” Asked whether he would be available for the TV interview on April 7, Mihigo answered: “With pleasure.” Rwandan authorities did not wait for Mihigo to appear on BBC. He was arrested and incarcerated” (Chimp Investigations Team on Africaspeaks.com).
We can see that his songs was so critical of the government, that they landed him in trouble. Were his connection was also added the pressure, as Sankara last year was arrested and detained for his association with rebels who fought to end the Presidency of Kagame.
However, the authorities could manufacture that, as he was a critic, but also someone who wanted positive change. Nevertheless, he never got to see that and his final demise was in the chambers of the authorities. On their watch, they let him die and most likely they did something more, than what they are saying. Since, someone who had already been charged with treason years earlier. Would be able to face more jail-time for trying cross the borders days earlier. He had the strength to be behind bars for fours years. He could muster up strength for a few more days now. That is why the suicide doesn’t add up.
I will end with some lyrics from ‘the Meaning of Death’ from 2014 :
“Death is the worst thing that can happen, yet something that creates a good road that leads to something better than anything else’” (…)
“There is no good death, whether genocide, the civil war, being killed in revenge attacks, or dying from illness’” (…)
“Those relatives, wherever they are seated, they pray for us” (…)
“Though the genocide orphaned me, let it not make me lose empathy for others. Their lives, too, were brutally taken but not qualified as genocide. Those brothers and sisters, they too are human beings. I pray for them. I comfort them. I remember them” (.Kizito Mihigo, 2014).
He wrote about death, now he has met the same master, as his fatality happen under the guard of the state in their chambers. That’s why they write the story and tell his demise was set a certain way. Even if that seems unreasonable and intolerable. As these sort of affairs only happens to critics and the likes who offends the President.
Kizito Mihigo only dared to question the authorities through lyrics and songs. Because of that, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) deemed that fit to take his life. So, don’t challenge Kagame, he will hunt you down and ensure you stop breathing. Peace.