Captain Mbaye Diagne: An unknown true Hero of Hotel Rwanda.

El Memeyi Murangwa


captain_mbaye_diagne.jpgOn May 31, 1994 the life of Captain Mbaye Diagne the true Hero of Hotel des Milles Collines in Rwanda ended up accidently after being hit by a mortar shell which landed on his Jeep when he approached a check point on his way to UN Headquarter with a message from a Rwandese army Officer, Augustin Bizimungu to Commander Dallaire of UNAMIR.  

Senegalese Army officer and a United Nations military observer during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, Captain Mbaye saved many lives. He did through a continuous risky rescue missions at great peril to himself, but his tremendous work is being claimed by an impostor who collect award and money to be used not for humanitarian purpose but to disturb the Great Lake Region.

Devout Muslim, Mbaye Diagne was one of nine children born to a family living near Dakar, and the first to go to college. Following his graduation from the University of Dakar, he joined the army as an officer. In 1993 he was seconded to UNAMIR, the United Nations peacekeeping force sent to Rwanda as a military observer of the implementation of the Arusha Accords. He was stationed at the Hotel des Mille Collines, a Hotel located in Kigali which he quickly transformed in Shelter to hundreds of people rescued and protected by him.  

After Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana of Rwanda and her husband, and 10 Belgians peacekeepers assigned to her protection were assassinated by soldiers of the Presidential Guard, Captain Mbaye heard rumors of Uwilingiyimana murder from people fleeing to Hotel des Mille Collines. Unarmed, he came to investigate and found the prime minister's four children being hidden in the adjoining UNDP housing compound. He was discovered later that morning by UNAMIR Force Commander Roméo Dallaire, who was trying to find out what had happened to the prime minister. Dallaire told Mbaye to wait for UNAMIR armored personnel carriers to rescue the children and UNDP employees later that day, but the APCs never appeared. Mbaye eventually put the children in the back seat of his vehicle, covered them with blankets and made his way to the Hotel.

Despite U.N. rules of engagement prohibiting observers from going out to save civilians, it soon became apparent to other UNAMIR employees that Mbaye was continuing his rescue missions. The head of humanitarian operations in Rwanda gave an explanation as to why Mbaye was not rebuked: "here's someone who stepped out of line and Commander Dallaire was not going to discipline him because of the right thing he was doing.

Because he had to pass through dozens of checkpoints tasked with killing Tutsis and moderate Hutus, Mbaye ferried at most five people on each trip. In order to get past, he relied on his extensive contacts among the military and militias, his ability to defuse tense situations with quick jokes, and occasional bribes of cigarettes and money.

Captain Mbaye initiated and is also reponsable for amateur video footage of the United Nations peacekeepers in Rwanda during the genocide, which is one of the only video records during that time. The footage was used in the 2004 PBS Frontline documentary, Ghosts of Rwanda.

After his death in Rwanda, Captain Mbaye was buried in Senegal with full military honors. He was also recently honored by President Paul Kagame who invited his wife in Kigali to receive a high distinction for his acts of bravery and courage.

Captain Mbaye Diagne left behind a wife and two children leaving in Dakar, Senegal.

Captain Mbaye's bravery and stature must be recognized by the entire world.  It is time to put an end to the awarding of false heroes.

For the people of Rwanda, Captain Mbaye Diagne will always be remembered as an exceptional hero during the genocide of 1994. 

© VirungaNews

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