Created in 2011 by the International Women’s Network for Democracy and Peace, the prize is awarded to any person or association promoting peace and reconciliation in the African Great Lakes region and educates its populations on non-violent strategies of resistance and achieving change. Two of this year’s winners have featured in recent interviews published by Pambazuka News.
Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza is a Rwandan woman who decided to return to Rwanda in 2010 to run against President Paul Kagame in that year’s presidential elections. Prior to her return to Rwanda, she had been living in the Netherlands for 16 years. She is married to Lin Muyizere and is a mother of three children. She is president of the FDU-Inkingi, an unregistered opposition political party in Rwanda.
Upon her arrival in Rwanda in January 2010, Victoire declared that her dream was to see all Rwandans reconciled through truth telling. Without denying the mass killing of Tutsis in 1994, she called for the recognition of the mass killing of Hutus by the Rwandan Patriotic Army led by then General Paul Kagame. Kagame’s government quickly accused her of trying to spread the “double genocide” account of Rwanda’s tragedy, put her under house arrest and forbade her to speak to the press. They suppressed dissent, often violently, throughout that election year, and prevented the other two viable presidential candidates from registering their parties and running against Kagame. They arrested and imprisoned Victoire Ingabire in October 2010, then convicted her in a kangaroo court and condemned her to 15 years in prison.
In 2011, the International Women’s Network for Democracy and Peace (IWNDP) decided to publicize Victoire’s case by creating the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza for Democracy and Peace Prize. The prize is awarded to any person or association who promotes peace and reconciliation in the African Great Lakes region,and educates its populations on non-violent strategies of resistance and achieving change.
These 2017 winners were revealed on March 11, 2017 in Brussels during a ceremony organized by the IWNDP:
• ANJAN SUNDARAM, South Asian Indian American. A graduate of Yale University, Mr Sundaram is a journalist who has been reporting on Africa for The New York Times and the Associated Press. His work also appears regularly in Granta, The Guardian and The Washington Post. He is the author of “Stringer: a reporter’s day in Congo”. The award was given to him to recognize his latest book “Bad News: Last Journalists in a Dictatorship,” in which shares his experience as a journalism teacher in Rwanda. In the book, he addresses the challenge, danger, and hardship faced by Rwandan journalists reporting in a brutal dictatorship. Sundaram’s work has earned him other prizes including the Frontline Club Award in 2015 and the Reuters Prize in 2006.
• DAVID HIMBARA, Rwandan Canadian. David Himbara is an educator, economist and author who works as a consultant on African economic reform. He worked as a university professor in South Africa from 2010-2013 and as a consultant at the University of Bloemfontein and for the United Nations Development Program. He is a former private secretary in the Office of the President in Rwanda. He holds a PhD in Economics from Queen’s University, Ontario. His dissertation was published as the book “Kenyan capitalists, the State and Development” in 1994. He analyses the Rwandan economy in his recent publication on “Rwanda’s Economic Mirage.”
• BÉNÉDICTE KUMBI NDJOKO. Congolese Swiss, originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Bénédicte Kumbi Ndjoko holds a BA degree in History and English Literature from the University of Geneva and an MA degree in Education Sciences from the same university. She is a fervent advocate for democracy in the African Great Lakes Region, and she heads the NGO “Don’t be blind this time”. Bénédicte has praised Victoire Ingabire’s courage and heroism and said that it reaches beyond Rwanda’s borders to challenge the lies that have haunted the African Great Lakes Region in the decades of bloodshed since 1994.
• ALAIN DE BROUWER. Belgian. Alain de Brouwer holds a PhD from the Faculty of Law of the Catholic University of Louvain. He has been responsible for various goals in the European Parliament within the Parliamentary Group of the European People’s Party (EPP), including Development Cooperation and relations between ACP countries and the European Union. He participated in more than 30 information missions and international meetings in Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and Asia. He is the author of many publications.
The previous winners are:
2016: Anneke Verbraecken, Patrick Mbeko and Fred Winther Holt
2015: Judi Rever
2014: Ann Garrison and Pere Sampol I Mas
2013: Sylvestre Bwira and Colonel Luc Marchal
2012: Deo Mushayidi, Martine Syoen and Chris De Beule.
The award is presented annually on or near International Women’s Day. For details, please visit www.rifdp-iwndp.org.