Kigeli V of Rwanda

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Kigeli V Ndahindurwa
Mwami of Rwanda
U.S. Army Captain James Văn Thạch & King Kigeli V of Rwanda.jpg
U.S. Army Captain James Văn Thạch & King Kigeli V of Rwanda in May 2011
Reign 25 July 1959 – 28 January 1961
Predecessor Mutara III of Rwanda
Successor monarchy abolished (Dominique Mbonyumutwa As President Of Rwanda)
Kinyarwanda Rudahigwa
House Ndahindurwa
Born (1936-06-29) June 29, 1936 (age 79)

Kigeli V Ndahindurwa (born June 29, 1936) was the ruling last King (Mwami) of Rwanda from 25 July 1959 until 28 January 1961.[1] He was born in Kamembe, Rwanda. His Christian name is Jean-Baptiste Ndahindurwa.


He received his education at the Groupe Scolaire Astrida (now Groupe Scolaire Officiel de Butare) in Rwanda,[2] and at Nyangezi College in the modern-day Democratic Republic of the Congo.[citation needed]

Appointment as King[edit]

Brass lapel pin Vive Kigeli V "Up with Kigeli V" (37x12mm)

After King Mutara Rudahigwa died under mysterious circumstances in 1959, he was replaced on the throne by his younger brother Jean-Baptiste Ndahindurwa as King Kigeli V of Rwanda when he was only 23 years old.[3]

Political instability and tribal conflict grew despite the efforts of King Kigeli Ndahindurwa. An increasingly restive Hutu population, encouraged by the Belgian military, sparked a revolt in November 1959. In 1961, King Kigeli V was in Kinshasa to meet with Secretary-General of the United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld when Dominique Mbonyumutwa, with the support of the Belgian government, led a coup d'état that took control of the government. The coup resulted in the 1961 referendum about the fate of the monarchy. He initially fled into exile to Tanganyika, where he lived in Dar es Salaam, Kampala, Uganda, Nairobi and Washington, D.C., United States.


In June 1992, he was granted political asylum by the United States and lives near Washington, D. C..[4] He has traveled internationally to speak on behalf of the Rwandan people and repeatedly called for peace and harmony between the different groups. King Kigeli V has continued to remember the victims of the Rwandan Genocide and makes every attempt to reconcile between all political, ethnic, and religious parties in Rwanda to use the democratic process to solve any disputes. Kigeli was a friend of former South African president Nelson Mandela.

King Kigeli V was invited by the Delta Phi Epsilon Alpha chapter at Georgetown University and gave a speech, "The Rwanda Genocide: The Most Preventable Tragedy of Our Time".[5]

In an August 2007 BBC interview, Kigeli expressed an interest in returning to Rwanda if the Rwandan people are prepared to accept him as their constitutional monarch. He said that he had met President Paul Kagame and that Kagame had told him that he and his family were free to return, but Kigeli said that in order to do so, he needed to know if the people still wanted him to be king. According to Kigeli, Kagame said that he would consult the government about the issue.[6]

Kigeli V is currently 79 years old and lives in Oakton, Virginia.[3] He lives in social housing and survives on handouts from well-wishers as well as a living earned from issuing orders and titles of nobility.[7]


He currently heads the King Kigeli V Foundation,[8] whose mission is to bring humanitarian initiatives on behalf of Rwandan refugees. King Kigeli V awards the Royal Order of the Lion, the Royal Order of the Crested Crane, the Royal Order of the Crown, and the Royal Order of the Drum to individuals.

Awards and non-hereditary orders and titles[edit]

  • King Kigeli V was awarded the Gold Star Award from by the International Strategic Studies Association for Outstanding Contributions to Strategic Progress Through Humanitarian Achievement for his work for Rwandan refugees in Africa.

Orders and decorations received by the King:[9]


  • "The genocide is a result of a loss of respect and culture," he said. "The young people do not respect or listen to their elders - If I am allowed to return, I will encourage intermarriage among the groups so that we can become one people again."[10]
  • "A king is like a father to the nation... All the tribes are like his children."[4]
  • "My people did not choose to end the monarchy in Rwanda, that was imposed on them by the (Belgians)."[10]
  • "To really die for your country you become a hero"; King Kigeli said through his interpreter; "He was most impressed by the King dream for peace and human rights and that is my dream for Rwanda."[10]
  • "I’m for everyone. I want every one to be a child of God. I want both sides to have peace."
Kigeli V of Rwanda
House of Ndahindurwa
Born: 1936
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Mutara III
King of Rwanda
25 July 1959 – 28 January 1961
Monarchy abolished
Titles in pretence
Loss of title
Coup d'état
King of Rwanda
28 January 1961 – present


  1. ^ Cahoon, Ben M. (2010). "World Statesmen". Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  2. ^ Bucyensenge, Jean Pierre (JP). "GSO-Butare marks 83rd anniversary." New Times. (Archive) 25 September 2012. Retrieved on 6 March 2013.
  3. ^ a b "A King with No Country," Washingtonian Magazine, April 2013
  4. ^ a b Pickert, Kate (2008-06-05). "Life After the Throne, As King Gyanendra prepares to depart from the Nepalese royal palace, TIME takes a look at how other former and wannabe Monarchs have weathered the loss of their crowns: Kigeli Ndahindurwa V, Former King of Rwanda". (Time). Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  5. ^ The Rwanda Genocide: The Most Preventable Tragedy of Our Time
  6. ^ David Bamford, "Rwanda's former king eyes return", BBC News, August 18, 2007.
  7. ^ Noble titles: Honours and offers
  8. ^ Lyons, Patrick J. (2007-07-23). "Dwindling Links to Monarchies Past". The Lede, The New York Times News Blog. The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b c Barabin, Alexandria (2005-11-01). "Rwanda King Kigeli V speaks at CSUN". Daily Sundail (California State University-Northridge). Retrieved 2010-03-12. 

External links[edit]