At the Kigali Genocide Memorial on Wednesday 31 May, officials from both Rwanda and Senegal, members of the diplomatic corps in Rwanda, representatives from the Senegalese diaspora in Rwanda and friends of Senegal came together to mark the second ‘Mbaye Diagne Day’ – an annual day of remembrance for the heroism of Captain Mbaye Diagne, who was killed on 31 May 1994 while saving lives during the Genocide against the Tutsi.
A Senegalese officer serving as a UN peacekeeper, Mbaye Diagne displayed remarkable courage and selflessness, undertaking many missions on his own initiative to rescue people at risk of mass murder. Hundreds owe their lives to him. Some believe he may ultimately have rescued more than a thousand people.
“May 3rd in 1994 is the date I will never forget when Captain Mbaye risked his life by taking on one of the most courageous acts of rescuing us when his fellows turned their backs against us,” commented Dr Jean Baptiste Gasasira. “His action has taught me that even in the face of immense evil like genocide, good humans still existed, and Mbaye was one of them. As Rwandans we’ll never forget him.”
H.E. Doudou Sow, Ambassador of Senegal to Rwanda, stated in his remarks that Capt. Mbaye’s heroic deeds are a great lesson and a source of pride: “Captain Mbaye has made all of us so proud through his heroic deeds. His blood wasn’t indeed shed in vain. We are here celebrating his life and urging the young generations to emulate his values.”
Speaking on behalf of the UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Aissatou Ndiaye-Dieng, UNHCR Representative in Rwanda, paid homage to Capt. Diagne who she personally met on 4th April 1994 for the first and last time. “He could have opted to remain at his military residence and watch as innocent people were being mercilessly slaughtered, but his brave nature couldn’t allow this to happen and instead, he chose to save those who were hunted,” she said. “This clearly teaches all of us that we should always stand up for what is right and help those in need.”
Representing the Government of Rwanda, Ms. Clarisse Munezero, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Unity and Civic Engagement (MINUBUMWE), stated that Rwanda is in solidarity with Senegal in remembering someone who demonstrated hope for humanity during the devastating period of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
“If we had so many like Captain Mbaye during Genocide, many could have survived. His actions exemplified the power of individual choices,” she said. Munezero urged everyone to play a role in building a future without genocide or identity-based discrimination.
Photos of the event can be viewed here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/142016030@N02/albums/72177720308776854