By Jennifer Fierberg
Just over a year ago, Patrick Karegeya was murdered in an upscale hotel in South Africa. He was found strangled under suspicious circumstances with a trail of clues that leave few questions in discovering the perpetrator of this crime. There was no money taken from the victim, no valuables were missing from the hotel or his home and only his cellphones were taken by his murderers and were found shortly later when they were discovered being powered on in Rwanda. The motive of this crime was clearly an intelligence mission and not a random robbery.
On Sunday January 19, 2015 friends, family and comrades of the late Patrick Karegeya gather in Boston, Massachusetts to honor him and celebrate the life he led. The weekend was filled with celebrations, reunions, discussions, parties and tears. The apex of the weekend was a beautiful memorial service held in an elaborate hotel ballroom under the watchful eye of the Boston Police department.
A Pastor opened the memorial service with an uplifting message of hope, love and forgiveness followed by beautiful music. Family and friends stood up to provide moving testimonies and memories of their time with Mr. Karegeya. The most moving testaments came from his immediate family members. The eldest son, Elvis Karegeya, tearfully stated that, “my father had so much to teach me but he never can now. But I can see he left it in all of you.” I will not soon forget this statement. Portia Karegeya, Patrick’s daughter, read a moving letter of forgiveness to those who viciously took her father’s life. Leah Karegeya, Patrick’s widow told the guests that we will all be better people for knowing him and, most profoundly, that “a good man invests in people, not buildings.” She also told the room that even though the year has been painful that “God gives me the strength to stand here today.”
There were many words of wisdom from historical figures interspersed throughout the tribute speeches, which were attributed to the character of Mr. Karegeya. One guest talked about how Martin Luther King Jr. shared his wealth with the people he served. Another indicated that Nelson Mandela shared his wealth and that he focused on the world and not himself. One attendee stated that Patrick shared his life and his wealth with those he served. He fought for equal rights for all Rwandans, he was fighting for democracy for Rwanda and many other human rights that are deserved by all, but in the end, he gave his life for the cause of freedom. He paid the ultimate price.
Patrick fought for a cause in which he believed as a member of the RPF but in the end he could see that the RPF had wealth but they only served themselves and not the people of Rwanda. In the end, Patrick gave up the wealth he had with the RPF in order to serve Rwandans by fighting for human rights that are denied in modern day Rwanda. He fought this fight as a founding member of the Rwandan National Congress.
Patrick Karegeya will remain in the hearts of those who loved him and fought alongside of him. Sadly, his children and wife will suffer the most from this loss but they are strong and they will carry on his message of hope and unity. The family has started the Karegeya Foundation with the mission “of keeping his legacy of respect for human rights and social justice alive.”
For more information on their foundation and how to join, click here.