He survived the Rwandan civil war. He survived the Rwandan genocide. He survived cholera. He survived being a refugee. He survived being black in the United States… and there are so many times due to what he stood for, his personal well-being was attacked.
I witnessed it a few times.
In a press conference we held at the National Press Club, the Rwandan ambassador and a few Rwandan agents came to threaten him. They asked to speak and shared nonsense. Of course, Claude handled them well. There was a guy we knew as Congolese. That day, as he was sitting in the room, he raised his hand and said he was Rwandan and what Claude was saying was a lie. At the end of the event, these folks teamed up to try to intimidate Claude speaking to him in Kinyarwanda.
In a congressional briefing on Capitol Hill where Claude and I, and others were discussing the issues of the region and the UN Mapping Exercise Report, lots of Kagame agent showed up. We even had the police in that room specifically for that briefing on the Hill, folks! Among one of the Kagame agents was a guy who introduced himself as a journalist… but his body build was weird to me. Later I discovered, thanks to Claude, that the guy was a Rwandan army officer. I don’t remember his question at the event but what I remember vividly is how angry he was at the end of the event yelling at Claude in Kinyarwanda and Claude responding “why don’t you say it in English.” There were folks getting that fake journalist out of the room.
Claude also was around when that crazy Rwandan diplomat Olivier Nduhungirere was still in New York, stalking me at the UN at the Czech Republic event on genocide. I remember Olivier harassing Claude and of course it didn’t work.
He was also around when this crazy guy – Rwandan citizen Louis Gakumba came to an event I was attending. He was taking my picture so I got tired of it and decided to take his picture (see here https://www.instagram.com/p/rLblt6LrlE/ ). I sat in the room and he spoke saying his name was Christian and he was Congolese from Masisi. Later, thanks to the photo I had of him, people online were able to help identify him and his name is all over google search as a Rwandan. Claude and I always laugh about these amateur agents sent to intimidate truth tellers.
Claude was also there when I needed him… when I got sick… he was there to help… no need to go in details but I’m forever thankful brother.
So many runnings with this brother… who really really has put his life on the line not just for his country of birth, but for all oppressed people.
So to discover that today at the Rwandan genocide commemoration event in Atlanta where he was speaking, lots of Kagame agents showed up using the same tactics: taking pictures of him, asking questions or giving comments to derail the event, pretending to be Congolese in the hope people will not see through their lies… all I could say we have seen it all…
Also to find out that he once again had death threats in the United States and these guys are still not being arrested is baffling to me. How are Kagame agents allowed to travel in the US freely and threaten the lives of justice seekers?
You know what they asked Claude in Kinyarwanda? “What do you want to be remembered for when you die?”
And this keeps happening… and Rwandans keep getting killed and silenced inside their country and abroad while people keep pushing Kagame’s propaganda in the media – women representation in parliament yet every woman who has run for president in Rwanda somehow ends up in jail, clean city of Kigali but no question about the people the government put on Lake Kivu for “re-education”, number 1 exporter of coltan when not having known reserves for that type of output.
Tonight Claude… I thank you for putting your life on the line to make Rwanda and the region a better place. Your courage gives all of us strength to speak up louder and stay committed to see the liberation of our peoples.
It is my promise to you… we will hang out one day together in Kigali… when these criminal thugs like Kagame, Museveni and Kabila and their criminal agents and networks are completely destroyed from the region.
We will get there… know that many of us are with you always!