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Kigeli V: The King away from his people

By Wilson Manishimwe

Added 18th October 2016 05:35 PM

In an August 2007 BBC interview, Kigeli expressed interest in returning if the Rwandan people were prepared to accept him as their constitutional monarch

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Jean-Baptiste Ndahindurwa commonly King Kigeli V, was the last King of Rwanda who ruled from July 28, 1959 until the over throw of the Rwandan Monarch on January 28, 1961. His predecessor is Mutara III Rudahigwa.

He died on Sunday morning aged 80 after succumbing to illness in the state of Virginia, United States.

Following Rwanda’s liberation and repatriation of refugees in 1994, the RPF government led by President Paul Kagame, encouraged Kigeli to return home in dignity, offering to accord him a wide range of privileges.

However, he hadn’t accepted the request by the time of his passing. Kigeli had never stepped foot in Rwanda since the time he fled the country more than half a century ago.

However, a section of Rwandans say that the government urged him to return as a commoner not as king, an offer he reportedly rejected.

In an August 2007 BBC interview, Kigeli expressed interest in returning if the Rwandan people were prepared to accept him as their constitutional monarch, but said that in order to do so, he needed to know if the people still wanted him to be king.

He was born on June 29, 1936 in Rusizi village, Rwanda. He is a son to Yuhi V of Rwanda and Mukashema. He is also the grandson of Kigeli IV of Rwanda. He lived in Uganda, then Kenya, before settling in the United States in 1992.

After his death, the Rwandan Academy of Language and Culture (RALC) expressed its condolences to the former monarch.

He was known for heading the King Kigeli V Foundation, promoting humanitarian work for Rwandan refugees and for his activities in maintaining the cultural heritage of his formerly reigning royal house. 

He was never married, insisting that he would only marry if he returned to Rwanda.

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