Veteran journalist, Justus Muhanguzi Kampe, yesterday launched his book titled Eyes of a Journalist, an eyewitness account of the 1990-1994 war--and genocide--in Rwanda. Muhanguzi however says he lives in fear because the publication has angered officials at the Rwanda embassy in Kampala. It is for this reason, according to Muhanguzi, that the book launch had been abruptly called off in April.
While at Hotel Africana on Thursday evening, Muhanguzi however said he now lives in fear because the publication appears to have angered top officials at the Rwanda embassy in Kampala. It is for this reason, according to the author, that the book launch was delayed for more than five months.
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The launch, initially set for April 6th this year, was called off just a day to the event under unclear circumstances. And from that time the author, who now works with Uganda Human Rights Commission, struggled to explain why the book was not launched.
He apologised to friends and readers for failing to reveal what caused the delay of the launch.
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In the book, Muhanguzi gives his personal account of the Rwandese Patriotic Front/Army (RPF/A) war. The author was one of the first Ugandan journalists to report on the rebel invasion of Rwanda in October 1990 that culminated in the death of President Juvenal Habyarimana on April 6, 1994.
The choice of April 6th as book launch was significant, according to Muhanguzi, since it coincided with the 23 anniversary of the start of genocide in Rwanda in which up to a million people were killed. The book tells much of this sad story.
Just a day to the planned launch, however, Muhanguzi says he received a call from the Uganda Police spokesperson Asan Kasingye for a meeting with the police chief, General Kale Kayihura. The meeting was to take place at the Police Headquarters, Naguru.
At the police headquarters, Muhanguzi never met Kayihura who was reportedly busy. In Kasingye's office, Muhanguzi says he found there a man only identified as Baguma from the Rwandan High Commission in Kampala.
Kasingye later identified the man as a "police liaison officer at the Rwanda embassy." Buguma reportedly told the author that the Kigali government had issues with the book. The Rwanda embassy website lists SSP Ismael Baguma as one of the members of staff and his designation is "Police Liaison".
Muhanguzi says Baguma told him that Rwanda Ambassador, Major General Frank Mugambage, wanted to see him which he reluctantly accepted. At the embassy, he says Mugambage told him he had been following the author's "malicious and false stories about the war."
Mugambage cautioned Muhanguzi against being misguided by Rwanda's enemies.
"Without mincing words, (Ambassador) Mugambage told me to abandon the idea of the launch and said the international community was only interested in healing the wounds caused by genocide…," says Muhanguzi.
He adds: "I realised I was under captivity and was not sure whether I would get out of the embassy premises in one piece…I apologised for my wrong doing," he said during the launch.
Before being allowed to leave the embassy, Muhanguzi says he was warned never to leak what happened to the media and never to release a single copy of the book.
In a telephone conversation, AIGP Kasingye told URN that he indeed contacted Muhanguzi and invited him to Naguru to meet IGP Kayihura. He says that the Rwanda government officials had expressed reservations about the book being launched on Genocide Memorial day and that they wanted the author to postpone the event.
He, however, distances himself from the alleged threats saying that he is not privy to what Muhanguzi and the Rwanda embassy officials discussed.
While Muhanguzi says he did not meet Kayihura and that he has been trying in vain to meet the police chief since the April incident, Kasingye says the two met.
The Rwanda High Commission in Kampala has not yet commented on the story. A message to Commission's email had by the time of filing this report not been responded to.