Kigali this Saturday hosted what is going to be one of the most talked about parties in recent Rwandan history. Teta Gisa, one of two officially identified children of liberation icon Maj Gen Fred Rwigyema, got married to her fiancé, Mervin.
Since it was attended by President Paul Kagame, by press time, official photos had not yet been released. Further still, a 28min video began circulating on social media around 10pm Rwandan time. The photos that had come out were those of family friends.
In the video, which The Chronicles viewed, President Kagame, who was with First Lady Jeannette Kagame, spoke about deep family ties, local politics, regional geopolitics, and even committed to deliver his big gift to the newly-weds after speaking to them.
But before Kagame could go into the customary pleasantries, he had some tough talk, targeting government of Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni. President Kagame didn’t mention Uganda or anyone from Uganda, preferring to use “neighbouring country” and “leaders of that neighboring country”.
Kagame accused the Ugandan authorities of spreading distorted information and insults about him and Rwigyema. He said the Ugandans had even extended that by sowing discord between his and Rwigyema’s family.
Kagame said it was inappropriate that Rwigyema’s son, Eric Gisa Junior, who has lived in U.S. for years, was not at the wedding. Eric has avoided coming to Rwanda.
‘I was looking around and didn’t see Gisa’s son. He should be here,’ said Kagame
‘I ask you Teta, Janet and your grandmother to deliver my message to him that the country which his father, myself & others fought for is his home. He shouldn’t be seeking asylum outside. It’s not right.”
Kagame went on: ‘More to that, he shouldn’t be coming and stopping in the neighbouring country. He should be in Rwanda, maybe traveling to wherever he would like and returning, but not permanently living in exile.’
Kagame said Uganda authorities had attempted for all this long to antagonize his family with that of his childhood friend Rwigyema.
‘They have interfered for so long in the affairs of our country. Our neighbors have been misleading some Rwandans that they will support them to take over…,’ said the President.
Kagame said the Ugandans have been using the name of Rwigyema to try to undermine him, but that he wasn’t bothered.
‘’I choose my wars very carefully and have many of them,’ said Kagame, adding that the Ugandans were continuing to destabilize Rwanda, despite expressing his concerns face-to-face to President Museveni (didn’t say name).
He said the Ugandans had caused so much toxicity around his name and Rwigyema, which has included slandering and insults (“….gusebanya, gucurirana, gutukana…”)
Kagame warned that whatever Uganda does, it should be aware that it will never determine the destiny of Rwanda. “It is impossible,” he said.
It is from this point that Kagame said Ugandan authorities have been falsely trying to take credit for Rwanda’s liberation war between 1990-1994.
Kagame said: “They never created who we are today. Only God can claim so. They never had any role in the liberation war. For those who didn’t know, you hear it from me. If anyone wants more information they can look for me to give you details.”
At the start his 27mins unscripted address to the wedding attendees, Kagame narrated how he and Rwigyema, when they were still young boys, were very close. He told of how together they often visited home of Rwandan who had taken part in the rebellion which fought against Government of Rwanda’s first President Gregoire Kayibanda. The rebels were called ‘Inyenzi’.
‘Our parents repeatedly condemned us for loitering, but we couldn’t stop visiting him, because we enjoyed the stories from the Inyenzi rebellion. We also danced traditional Rwandan folklore music,’ said Kagame.
Kagame was introduced to speak by Rwigyema’s widow Janet, who thanked the President and First Lady for the support they have accorded the family.
‘I praise the Lord for this day and the fact that it has taken place in our country,” said Janet Rwigyema, amid applause from attendees.
She added: “Please join me to express since appreciation to the President of the Republic and his wife for the role they had in our family. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. The children studied and never lacked anything. Thank you, with all my heart.”
From her brief noted, Janet Rwigyema invited President Kagame to speak, introducing him as “Late Fred’s friend”.
In his speech, Kagame said he had to bring “politics” into the wedding because it was important that he addresses Uganda’s unending interference in Rwandan affairs and other issues which had been distorted for a long time.
Kagame said he didn’t have any debt because he had satisfactorily fulfilled his mission. “Even if I left now, I will go very contented because I don’t owe God anything, or anyone,” said Kagame.
He said even though challenges remain, the country had made visible progress in all aspects.
In concluding remark, President Kagame said he was happy to again meet Rwigyema’s mother as they had not had any encounter for quite a long time. He also said he was happy to again meet Rwigema’s widow. He didn’t say when exactly he last met both of them.
It is the first time President Kagame has used a public platform to speak about Rwigyema’s family. He has only previously spoken about Rwigema himself.
In the address, as he walked around freely, Kagame seemed to indicate he had had been having communication with Rwigyema’s son Eric, through the sister who wedded this Saturday.
Teta is said to be working at the foreign ministry and husband Mervin Manzi at Volkswagen Rwanda.
Throughout the address, Kagame’s comments were punctuated by repeated applause by the attendees.
Until the photos and video of the wedding emerged late Saturday evening, there was no indication about the event, even on the usually vibrant social media platforms inside Rwanda or exiles.