Rwanda: Former SDA Union President Dead

Kigali, Rawanda — Hundreds of bereaved friends and relatives yesterday stormed Kigali International Airport to receive the body of the late Pastor Amon Rugerinyange, the former spiritual leader of the Seventh Day Adventists (SDA) in the country.

Mourners who lined on both sides of the road to the Airport cargo exit, were sobbing while others sung sorrowful songs as they patiently stood in a scorching sun for more than two hours as they waited for the body to be driven out of the Airport.

Rugerinyange, 71, was a mentor to many and until his death, was the Chaplain at Universite Laïques Adventistes de Kigali (UNILAK) at the time of his death.

Assisted by security personnel, close relatives and friends of the deceased, including his children and widow, accessed the interior of the airport premises to receive the body at exactly 1:00pm.

The occasion which was entirely organised by the Adventist Church, was characterised by moving emotions as a group of youth called Pathfinders guided the crowd.

The retired top Adventist church pastor passed away in India at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delphi after battling with stomach and pancreatic cancer for a long time.

Rugerinyange was flown last month to India for treatment and underwent a successful operation but two days later, another operation was recommended because he did not seek treatment in time.

According to Francois Rugerinyange, one of the deceased's two surviving sons, the second operation two weeks later would have been successful given the fact that he had talked to his father on phone before he died.

"The doctor was optimistic that he (Rugerinyange) had ninety percent chance to survive but unfortunately it did not come to pass," Francois said, tears welling up.

He added, "It's hard to talk about your father. He was not only a good father but also my best friend. His death came at a time we needed him most but God has decided and we shall miss him."

The deceased's body was taken to the King Faisal Hospital mortuary. His burial is slated for Sunday at Remera cemetery. Before his death, Rugerinyange worked with the translation department at the SDA Union and he was Rwanda's representative at the international Conference.

He became a nurse before pursuing a degree in theology, taught at Gitwe Seminary School and represented his church at the Rwanda Bible Society.

He is survived by his wife Consolata Rugerinyange, three daughters; Mary, Sofia and Monica and two sons Samuel and Francois Rugerinyange.