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
Reign 25 July 1959 – 28 January 1961
Predecessor Mutara III of Rwanda
Successor Being a proprietary monarchy, His Majesty's choice of his successor will not be revealed until after his death
Born (1936-06-29) June 29, 1936 (age 80)
Kamembe, Rwanda
Kinyarwanda Rudahigwa
House Ndahindurwa
Father Yuhi V of Rwanda
Mother Mukashema
Religion Catholic Church

Kigeli V Ndahindurwa (born June 29, 1936) was the last ruling 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.[2] He currently resides in the Oakton, Virginia area, United States.

Early life and education[edit]

He received his education at the Groupe Scolaire Astrida (now Groupe Scolaire Officiel de Butare) in Rwanda,[3] and at Nyangezi College in the modern-day Democratic Republic of the Congo.[citation needed]

Reign in Rwanda[edit]

Brass lapel pin Vive Kigeli V "Long Live 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.[4]

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.

Exile activities[edit]

In June 1992, he was granted political asylum by the United States and lives near Washington, D.C..[5] He subsequently settled in the Oakton, Virginia area.

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 and Patrice Lumumba.

In 1997, 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".[6]

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.[7]

In February 2016 King Kigeli V became a Royal Patron of the International Academy for Genealogical and Heraldic Studies (IAGHS), which is a private non-governmental autonomous research organisation founded in 2015.[8]

In July 2016 it was revealed that Essex TV had become the first media organization to be granted permission to film King Kigeli V during a UK visit as part of a documentary that was being produced about his life. [9]


He currently heads the King Kigeli V Foundation,[10] whose mission is to bring humanitarian initiatives on behalf of Rwandan refugees.


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



Although contested by representatives of the International Commission on Orders of Chivalry,[11] Kigeli V's claim as full "de jure" sovereign with all the rights, privileges, and full distinctions of this dignity, is recognised by as in accordance to international requirements by the Augustan Society,[12][13] including his orders,[4][14] which also have been listed in Peerage World Orders of Knighthood and Merit by Burke's Peerage in 2006.[15]

  • Royal Order of the Drum (Rwanda) - ribbon bar.gif Grand Master of the Royal Order of the Drum
  • Order of the Crown (Rwada), Commander.png Grand Master of the Royal Order of the Crown
  • Order of the Crane (Rwada), Commander.png Grand Master of the Royal Order of the Crested Crane
  • Knight, Order of the Lion (Rwada).png Grand Master of the Royal Order of the Lion

Foreign orders[edit]

Foreign orders and decorations received by the King:[16]

Ecclesiastical decorations[edit]

City awards[edit]

  • Portugal Knight of the Most Prestigious Brotherhood of the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Noble City of Lisbon, Portugal

Other awards[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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cahoon, Ben M. (2010). "World Statesmen". Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  2. ^ Genealogy
  3. ^ Bucyensenge, Jean Pierre (JP). "GSO-Butare marks 83rd anniversary." New Times. (Archive) 25 September 2012. Retrieved on 6 March 2013.
  4. ^ a b "A King with No Country," Washingtonian Magazine, April 2013
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ The Rwanda Genocide: The Most Preventable Tragedy of Our Time
  7. ^ David Bamford, "Rwanda's former king eyes return", BBC News, August 18, 2007.
  8. ^ "Royal News and Events", Official Website of HM King Kigeli V, 8 February 2016. Retrieved on 5 March 2016.
  9. ^ v, Essex TV get royal nod for documentary. Retrieved on 9 July 2016.
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Stanford Journal of International Relations
  14. ^ "Noble titles: Honours and offers". The Economist. 28 September 2013. Retrieved 22 August 2015. 
  15. ^ Burke's Peerage World Orders of Knighthood and Merit by Guy Stair Sainty and Rafel Heydel-Mankoo. Pages 795 - 798.
  16. ^ King Kigeli

External links[edit]