by Ruhumuza Mbonyumutwa

Translation by mesha Monge-Irizarry, Idriss Stelley Foundation

This Oct. 21, Jambonews met with Raïssa, the eldest daughter of Victoire Ingabire. [Ingabire, who is widely considered the leader of the political opposition in Rwanda, has been jailed in Kigali, where evidence indicates she is being tortured. – ed.] Tall and slender, the 21-year-old smiled and projected a positive attitude, which surprised us considering her situation.

She told us: “I try to put my feelings aside in order to help my mother as much as I can. I try to remain strong, to care for my little brothers, because I know that this is the best way I can help my mother.”

The last time she spoke with her mother was the day before her arrest. “We spoke normally. We were cool; we laughed. With my mother, we have always been comrades. We talk about everything, and for me it is difficult to imagine her as a politician. So far, it is the last time that I was able to speak with her.”

Last Friday, the Rwandan Embassy in Holland, however, promised Raïssa that she would be able to speak with her mother within 48 hours. “I told the ambassador that as far as I am concerned, I should not be considered a politician. If I talk to my mother, I would not ask her about the situation in Rwanda or ask her what any witnesses have stated, but simply, Mama, how are you? All I wish for at this time is just to hear my mother tell me that she is OK.

“The ambassador listened to me attentively. She understood my situation. She seemed to want to help me, to the point that I believed it. But when one closes the door in someone’s face, it means one does not want to help. She started by elaborating on different ways to help us, but as soon as she decided it was time for us to leave, it was all over. Her attitude radically changed, and she left me in the dark regarding my mother’s situation. The ambassador talked to me and listened to me as a mother would, but she reacted as an ambassador.”

Last Monday, we came back, but we were refused entry and the embassy called the police, who escorted us out.

The ambassador talked to me and listened to me as a mother would, but she reacted as an ambassador.

Ever since, Raïssa’s days have been full. Speaking to everyone who will listen, from left to right, she informs, she sensitizes, because she believes in the value of word of mouth. “A lot of people are not aware. They are surprised, shocked to hear the situation. The Dutch do not understand why their government is not doing anything, but I think that it is critically important that they ask themselves questions.

“To take action like this is the only way that I can keep myself from feeling powerless.”

When she is asked what she expects from the Rwandan community, she tells us that she wishes, first and foremost , that they become aware of the situation, that they know that her mother had a family, a job, a comfortable life in Holland before she left it all behind to take on the struggle in Rwanda. She fought for the people of Rwanda, and now that she is in prison, more than ever she needs the people of Rwanda.

Raïssa adds with emotion: “What I wish is for people to grasp that an innocent woman is in prison, that this woman could be their sister, their mother, their daughter.”

What holds true for her mother, according to Raïssa, also holds true for other political prisoners. She wishes that more people would understand their struggle and fight against the injustice that strikes them.

What I wish is for people to grasp that an innocent woman is in prison, that this woman could be their sister, their mother, their daughter.

“Today I speak for my mother, but I know that there are other political prisoners who deserve the support that my mother needs.

“Imminently, what I ask from the Rwandan community in Holland and surrounding countries is to come [to a rally] this Saturday, Oct. 23, at 11:30 a.m., to the central train station of Den Haag, opposite the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

“We want the Dutch government that finances Rwanda to use its influence, use this leverage to pressure Rwanda for a change,” she told us.

“Holland is a country that advocates for human rights, freedom of expression, democracy, and I have trouble understanding their support of a regime that imprisons people who express different opinions from those of the government.”

In the immediate future, there will be a rally this Saturday, Oct. 23, 11:30 am, at the central train station of Den Haag.

“The more people come, the more power we will demonstrate. So please, come in great numbers. This is a long road; every step counts. Saturday is one step among others, and I hope that there will be many more and that we will grow in numbers.”

When we asked her what she would do if she could turn back the clock, she does not hesitates one second: “Even though it is difficult for me, I would let her leave again, because my mother does what she thinks is just. To prevent her from being involved in politics and fighting for a more just Rwanda would be to destroy a part of my mother. Some have mothers who are singers, who sing to them. Others have mothers who are nurses, who provide medical care for them.

“Personally, I have a mother who is a politician – who inspires me. Therefore, if I could turn back the clock, I would encourage her to leave again because politics is part of her.

“Even now, despite the turn of events, I am proud of her because she is fighting for what she always believed in.

“My mother taught me to live my life as I please, to never to let any obstacle block my path, never let any obstacle prevent me from doing what I want. That is the one of the greatest life lessons that I learned from my mother.

“I want her to regain her freedom – the freedom to be able to come and see us but also the freedom to continue her political struggle, the freedom to be able to continue to fight for what she always believed in,” Raïssa concludes.

This interview first appeared on Jambonews in French. This is its first publication in English, thanks to the translation services of mesha Monge-Irizarry of the Idriss Stelley Foundation, who can be reached on Facebook or at (415) 595-8251.


  1. May this young lady inspire other Rwandans so that they realise that their contribution is essential in order to reach the changes we want for our society.
    Thanks Raissa, for the message!

  2. Raissa,
    You are not alone we will support our mother. I call her our mother because her name will go down in the Rwandan history as the mother of Freedom and Democracy.

  3. I am sorry to hear this, and that I only now realize this rally was yesterday. The Netherlands in my view as a Dutch person is following rather blindly what the USA´s foreign policy is, and it looks like the USA´s foreign policy is against all democratic opposition in Rwanda. I feel ashamed for this country. Stay strong and positive, something has to change. It will.

  4. it is good that we are sympathizing with her mother but we should also remember those who perished during the 1994 genocide killed by the very group that she is involved with-FDLR
    But I agree Raissa has the right to speak to her mother.

    En lisant les mots de la jeune fille de Victoire Ingabire appelé RAISSA, on entends les sentiments d’une fille qu’elle a pour sa mère mais après une paragraphe elle change la tournure et nous révèle sa complicité ,comme elle le dit ‘’Avec ma mère on a toujours été complices, on parlait de tout’’ qu’elle a envers sa mère en matière de la politique. Elle soutient Ingabire non seulement comme une mère, en plus comme son favori politique.
    Or, je vous révèle mademoiselle que dans notre pays, il y a des milliers de jeunes filles de ton âge, qui n’ont pas eu la chance d’avoir les deux parents, frères et sœurs il ya 16 ans suite à la politique que votre mère et vous (puis que vous la soutenez comme vous le dites) semblent utiliser. La politique basée sur la question ethnique puisque vous vous croyez majoritaire. Alors mademoiselle vous parlez de la démocratie ou bien l’ethnocratie ?

  6. Votre mère que vous prônez être innocente et politicienne civile et pourtant elles se cachent derrières les forces militaires que ca soit les FDLR ou bien les CDF(coalition of democratic forces) .
    Combien elle a été à mainte fois à KINSHASA à la rencontre des dirigeants du FDLR ? Tu le sais plus parce que tu nous a révélé que tu es sa complice. Tu lui faisait les valises
    Combien elle a fait des transferts d’argents pour ces mouvements politiques ?
    Combien elle a nié le génocide de Tutsi ? Tu consulte votre web ‘’www.victoire2010’’sur la page d’histoire tu verras que en 1994 elle ne nous parle que de la mort de son frère, votre oncle disons, et votre voyage de Kigali via Mugunga(RDC) et puis Hollande. Est-ce cette histoire que vous parlez aux hollandais ?

  7. Vous dites que vous parlez pour votre mère, mais il ya d’autres prisonniers politiques qui méritent le soutient de votre mère a besoin, de qui vous parlez ? Evidemment tous les extrémistes et les génocidaires. Est-ce que si je rencontre une petite fille de Bagosora n’aurait pas me dire de la sorte que son père est un prisonnier politique ?
    La politique d’extrémisme qu’a votre mère dérive de celle du fameux MDR-PARMEHUTU, raison pour la quelle lorsque elle est arrivée au Rwanda, elle s’est inclinée comme les chrétiens s’inclinent devant la croix de Jésus, devant la tombe du feu Mbonyumutwa, le fondateur du PARMEHUTU, qui a chassé les rwandais de ses quatre coins dans les années 1959 et plus .Est ce tu ignore l’histoire ?ou vous la manipulez autrement.

  8. Alors Raissa jusqu’où finirait cette politique ?puisque ca se transmet des parents aux descendants .
    Ces 16ans qui viennent de s’écouler ne vous montrer pas que avoir la paix est possible ?
    Tu veux vivre au Rwanda le même que votre mère a vécu ? Quelle a été le résultat ?Plus d’un million de morts ne suffit pas ?
    Ce que je peux vous dire, c’est de laisser la justice faire son travail, si elle sera condamnée ou innocente sera l’affaire de la justice.
    Je vous souhaite d’avoir le Rwanda plus aisé où nos futures enfants seront en paix, mais si vous continuez à cette vitesse , votre politique ne le permettra pas
    Merci .

  9. Anyone should be responsible of his/her activism.
    Ingabire Victoire's daughter and all Rwandans must face her with the truth that terrorism activities and/or complicity is one of her developing and unfortunate situation. We think in Rwanda that it is fair Ingabire Victoire stands trial.

  10. Franchement je doute que nos commentaires venimeux en francais soient lus pasr lons lecteurs americans….

  11. To Ingabire's daughter, don't let Ann and team drag you into your mother's mess. We either try to live up to our parents expectations or make up for their mistakes. In this case you will have to make up for her mistakes. Don't follow her foot step. She is on the wrong side of history. You are a every beautiful Rwandese woman, you would have made a beautiful first daughter, even though you are not my type. You can be anything in the world, but if you chose to follow your mother, things will be a bit tight for you. You will be consumed by all the bullshit she is going through under the pretex of revolution. God bless you and don't be fooled, you are still young and have a bright future a head of you. Don't accept to come to the spot light. Ann and the like will be gone, and you wont have any one to blame once you follow their path.

  12. Adding RPF to the equation will only make things worse. The best you can do is to get civilized and embrace defeat. This advice is from the security stand point.

    You people need to correctly calculate the dangerous security outcomes of any conflict when choosing your enemies. For those who completely understand conflict and its consequences, there is no such thing as simple conflict. So be wise on choosing who you try to go after. Ann and the team, i am talking to you, don't joke with what you are involving yourself with. We on our side we are talking it serious.

  13. The present regime in Rwanda has an aim of maintaining peace in our country and that cant be achieved if we Rwandans do not back them up.calmness among people will promote the progress, justice is at the best,Raissa we get yo worries bt let justice be met en if yo mother is accountable 4 any charges that may jeopadise our peace,live with the fact.No injustice in Rwanda.

  14. @ Ingabire 's daughter

    how about your Grand Ma … you know what she did during the genocide? you said u talk with your mother about everything, did she mentions Grand Ma? how she hacked to death babies …. c'mon girl do a little research and pray a lot so the course on your family don't follow you, God can deliver you from all that bad history if you beleive

  15. @Jim. I think you are having your information about Ingabire's involvement with FDLR from Paul Kagame's government propaganda to tarnish her name. You seem to believe to be true true what they are saying on that involvement. Only one question: why would you think that she is involved with that military opposition while promoting peaceful and democratic change in Rwanda? Please do find me an explanation, if you can. In my understanding, if she was with the group, she would instead use her political aura to get them more support which is not the case. Maybe you didn't follow her political career from the start where she has always distanced herself from any one using military means to access to power.

  16. dont forget ,that now rwanda is not for hutu ,rwanda is for tusi now ,rwanda became for tusi in 1994,and it will never back to the hutu never ,ok dont forget to pray for your mother and god is there god is only help we have

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