Prince Louis Rwagasore
He was the son of Mwami (King) Mwambutsa IV. He attended Groupe Scolaire d'Astrida (now Groupe Scolaire Officiel de Butare) in Rwanda. He briefly attended university in Belgium, but left to spearhead his country's anti-colonial movement. He founded a series of African cooperatives to encourage economic independence, but these were quickly banned by Belgium in 1958.
That same year, the prince established a nationalist political movement, Union for National Progress (UPRONA). Believing that the role of the royal family should transcend partisan politics, his father promoted him to Chief of Butanyerera, but Rwagasore turned down the appointment so that he could devote himself fully to the nationalist cause. Rwagasore, a Ganwa, married a woman who most people thought was a Hutu. It is believed that Rwagasore did so in a bid to play down the ethnic divisions between ethnic groups, especially between Tutsi and Hutu, which he believed the Belgian colonial rule had pitched against one another following the divide et impera practice. At the first UPRONA Congress (March 1960), Rwagasore demanded complete independence for Burundi and called on the local population to boycott Belgian stores and refuse to pay taxes. Because of his calls for civil disobedience, he was placed under house arrest.
Despite the setbacks, Rwagasore and UPRONA won a clear victory in elections for the colony's Legislative Assembly in 1961, winning 80 percent of the vote. The next day, he was declared Prime Minister, with a mandate to prepare the country for independence.
Assassination in 1961
Just two weeks later, on October 13, 1961, Rwagasore was assassinated while taking his dinner at the Hotel club du lac Tanganyika in Bujumbura, Burundi by a Greek national named Georges Kageorgis, allegedly in the pay of the pro-Belgian Christian Democratic Party (PDC). Inter-ethnic rivalries between the Hutu and Tutsi within UPRONA flared shortly after.
Prince Louis Rwagasore Stadium was named in his honour and the football club Prince Louis FC. His tomb was constructed on the hills overlooking Bujumbura and consists of a memorial with three arches. The original inscription above the arches read "Dieu, Roi, Patrie".
- Bucyensenge, Jean Pierre (JP). "GSO-Butare marks 83rd anniversary." New Times. (Archive) 25 September 2012. Retrieved on 6 March 2013.
- A political and economic dictionary of Africa, p. 92, at Google Books
- "Tribute to the Hero of Burundi independence (Blog Entry by Desire-Joseph Katihabwa (Bujumbura, Burundi))". African Path: Ideal Connections, Minneapolis, USA). 2007-04-27. Retrieved 2007-06-05.