‘King Kigeli did not wish to be buried in Rwanda’

Saturday November 05 2016

A decision on the final resting place of Rwanda’s last monarch King Kigeli V Ndahindurwa may take longer as two factions linked to the King dig in on where to bury him.

One side insists that he be buried in Rwanda while the other is barring attempts to repatriate the body.

On November 1, Boniface Benzinge, an advisor and caretaker of the late monarch said that King Kigeli V had said that he did not desire to be buried in Rwanda if he died in exile, even though there is no record of his wish.

Speaking to Voice of America, Kinyarwanda/Kirundi service, Mr Benzinge, who had lived with the monarch for decades, said that they are not keen on repatriating the body to Rwanda since the government had failed to return the King from exile while he was alive.

“We have not agreed yet on the final resting place but I don’t see the possibility of burying the king in Rwanda. As the spokesperson of the King, I have explained to them his wish and it must be respected,” said Mr Benzige. “In our culture or even laws, the final word of the deceased must be respected,” Mr Benzinge said.

But on Thursday, the King’s two cousins, Speciose Mukabayojo and Christine Mukabayojo said Mr Benzinge has no mandate to decide where the King will be buried.


“The family of King Kigeli V Ndahindurwa Jean Baptiste wishes to inform all Rwandans, friends and relatives that the King will be laid to rest in his country of birth, in Nyanza Palace, where he was put on the throne as a king,” a statement from the family reads. “The date and ceremony will be communicated in the near future.”

A delegation of eight relatives led by Pastor Ezra Mpyisi, his former advisor, is in the US to negotiate the possible repatriation of the King’s body to Rwanda.

In an interview from the US, Pastor Mpyisi said that he remains confident that an agreement will be reached to eventually repatriate the body to Rwanda.

“The negotiations are still ongoing. We remain positive that we will agree that it is only honourable for the King to be laid to rest in his home country,” said Mr Mpyisi.

The protracted fight for the King’s body is likely to be decided in court, with the blood relatives of the King seeking to file a case to be allowed to repatriate the body.

Kigali has said that it would provide any possible support to the family once they decide on the final resting place.\

According to Mr Benzinge, the body of the late King lies in a funeral home in Vienna, Virginia, US.