Every year the Karegeya family gather with family and friends to remember the life and loss of their patriarch, Patrick Karegeya. Patrick lived a complicated life of politics and security. In the end, he was away from his family for many years due to the dangerousness of his situation. Patrick’s wife, Leah Karegeya lives in the United States along with her three grown children who are all highly educated individuals and the living legacy of their father.
On Saturday, February 18, 2017 family and friends gathered in places around the world to celebrate the life of the man whose legacy will carry on though those who loved him most. Many came to speak on his behalf and share their memories of him. His widow, Leah, gave a powerful speech about her faith and how God has seen her though this most difficult time. As she spoke, it was clear that her faith has sustained her family and from the passion she speaks with, her faith can sustain a country. Her children, Portia, Richard and Elvis were all part of ceremonies around the world either in person or via recorded statement.
Portia has a strong voice for social justice and a passion for helping people though any means possible. There is no doubt that Patrick lives on in Portia and he certainly looks upon her with love and pride for the amazing woman she is and in all that she does. Elvis was not able to attend the ceremonies in person but sent a moving recorded message with a loving tribute to his father and family. Last year Elvis’s words moved the entire room to tears as he shared his heart and how his life has changed since his father passed.
This year, Richard spoke to the group gathered in Buffalo and his emotion was commanding. He was not able to speak for very long before his mother and close family joined him at the podium to assist him in finishing his emotional speech. The youngest of the Karegeya children has a huge heart, just as his siblings do, and want for nothing in the area of love and care. All of the children, in their own ways, shared how their mother is their rock and the center of the family. While enduring more than any wife or mother should have to bear she has not allowed her difficult circumstances to hold her back. Her strength is seen in her children and in how each of them has entered adulthood in search of making the world a better place in their own special and artistic way.
Anyone who knows this family can see the strong bond and love that holds them together in the hardest of times. They do not allow the loss of Patrick to define them, they have found their own way of letting the worst of circumstances empower them into the service of others. This is the greatest legacy a parent can leave to their children and it is clear that Patrick and Leah have raised amazing young adult who will, with no doubt, change the world.
On January 1, 2014, Patrick Karegeya was found murdered in an upscale hotel in South Africa. Police reports state he had been strangled. To this day not one person has been arrested for this crime. There is known information about the assailants who are believed to have long fled South Africa and are allegedly being protected in Rwanda. What is known is that the men who were with Patrick on the night he was murdered entered the country on foreign passports provided by another unnamed African nation. These men fled soon after the murder and are enjoying the protection of the Rwandan government. Most people closest to this case do not believe that those who brutally murdered Patrick will ever see justice, they do believe that this case will be handled through diplomatic means between South Africa and Rwanda.
Shortly after the murder, the diplomatic ties between the countries were severed and all ambassadors were asked to return to their home countries. Since that time, Rwanda has made statements that the diplomatic ties have been mended but South Africa views this situation much differently. South Africa has allowed a minimal number of Rwandan diplomatic staff back into the country but not on the same terms they enjoyed before. Further, Rwandans struggle to receive visas to visit South Africa and will often have to leave Rwanda and obtain one from another country if they have dual citizenship.
These ties will remain strained until political power changes in Rwanda.
Author: Jenifer Fierberg