On May 31, 1994, Captain Mbaye, a Senegalese officer from UNAMIR (United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda), returned to the lone force headquarters in Diagon when a mortar shell fell on his military vehicle. He was killed immediately. Two days before his return to Senegal where his wife and their two children were waiting for him. The news quickly reached Kigali’s famous “Hotel of the Thousand Hills” where UNAMIR offices were located, as well as the Tutsi survivors and moderate Hutus who survived the horrific massacre perpetrated by the Interhamway genocide.
Then the whole panic: “In the Hotel of the Thousand Hills, I remember the refugees who were mourning the death of Mbay Diagon. Everyone knew him. We were very saddened then, “said his brother-in-law, the retired Colonel Mamadou Adje, who himself was UNAMIR’s captain at the time. The great French poet Nicolas Boliu wrote in his book “Epistles” that “you can be a hero without destroying the world”.
The exemplary life of Captain Mbaye Diagon is a perfect illustration of this great sentence which reminds us that the glorious title of hero is not the prerogative of warriors alone and is not exclusively acquired by arms.
Indeed, and unfortunately this fact is not adequately considered, the greatest of the heroes is the hero of peace, the hero of non-violence, whose only weapon is their courage, their determination and their faith in humanity. They face danger with empty hands and face death with a smile on their face. This race of men, it must be said, is rare, Captain Mbaye was in Diagon who risked his life to save hundreds of men, women and children during his mission in Rwanda. Born on March 18, 1958, in Koki, in the Loga department, he studied law at the University of Dakar, before enrolling in the National School of Active Non-Commissioned Officers (ENSOA) in Thebes Diagne Civil Status, where he came out with Theis. The rank of Captain of the Senegalese army.
After receiving command of the 3rd Company of the 6th Infantry Battalion, he took an active part in the Cassamans Conflict from 1989 to 1993. In 1993, the same year, he was sent to Rwanda as part of a team of OAU military observers. Civil war is raging between Hutu-majority government forces and fighters from the Tutsi-inhabited Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF).
He will then be assigned to UNAMIR, a UN peacekeeping force responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Arusha Treaty (August 1993) aimed at ending the war. Unfortunately, the President of the Republic of Rwanda, Juvenal Habiarimana of the Hutu ethnic group, was killed in the crisis. This was the beginning of the horrific genocide of the Tutsis by the Hutu extremists who massacred more than 800,000 people in a brutal period of one hundred days.
In this tragic context, in MBA Diagon, “Captain Courage” will reveal himself, thanks to whose heroism hundreds of Tutsis and moderate Hutus (some estimate one thousand) will be spared the genocide organized by the Interhamway militias. Powered by the infamous “One Thousand Hills Radio Station”. “No one was going to rescue us. We were literally abandoned by the world in a depressing Africa. Leaving was absolutely out of the question for me and I would sacrifice all my life on my orders, who decided to stay with me and me, to be able to save a Rwandan woman! A Tutsi, who will blame the world for this genocide! Captain Mbaye confirmed the matter to his friend the BBC journalist Mark Doyle at Diagon. “He’s the bravest person I’ve ever met,” said the Senegalese officer.
Prime Minister Agathe Woilingingmana’s five children, a moderate Hutu, were assassinated on April 7, 1994, snatched from the clutches of the Interhamway militia, and then taken to Tanzania by Captain Mbaye Diagen. This was undoubtedly one of the first achievements of the Senegalese hero who, despite being alone, unarmed and under the command of military classification, continued his rescue operation. “He left alone, then returned with the dozens of people he had rescued from the bloody ordeal of the genocide,” testified UNMI Commander-in-Chief General Romeo Daleyer. For this senior official in the UN’s “blue helmet”, Captain Mbaye Diagne can be considered “the bravest person in the UN who has ever served.”
And indeed, when we compare the greatness of his work with the smallness of his ways, when we place the information in their context, we can be sure without ambiguity that Captain Mbaye Diagon was one of the greatest heroes of the twentieth century. In July 2010, his widow and two children received the “Umurinji Award” from President Paul Kagam with the following words: “The people of Rwanda will always be indebted to you for your courage and sacrifice during the 1994 genocide and for showing the world the true meaning of African Ubuntu “
In October of the same year, in Italy, the city of Padua was celebrated at the Mbay Diagon by the “Jardin des Justes”. In 2011, on the seventeenth anniversary of the genocide, the captain was again honored by the posthumous Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In 2014, the UN Security Council decided to create the “Captain Mbay Diagon Medal for Extraordinary Courage” in his honor.
In Rwanda, his memory is engraved in the heart and mind, and every year, his name is raised in remembrance of the 1994 genocide. What will happen to his country of birth Senegal? In 2005, Captain Mbay was posthumously awarded the Knight of the National Order of the Lion at Diagon. However, even today, this knight of modern times is rarely known to his countrymen. No boulevard, avenue, street or public building bears his name.
However, his widow, Yassin Mar Diop, mentions that his story should be known to all Senegalese because, who is greater than the man who gave life to his colleagues? “I want my husband’s name to be in the school textbooks of the country. Let everyone know his story. His attitude on the field and his courage will surely inspire youngsters, “said Captain Mbaye Diagon’s wife. The will of this brave woman, who knew how to qualify for the ordeal, is also ours, we fellow Saint-Louisians, because we do not forget that she was also the granddaughter of the mayor of the old city, Emeritus Abdullah, Mar Diop. 1946 to 1952.
To make matters worse, I would like to make the following two proposals, as a citizen of the “old town” that saw the birth of such a worthy and worthy citizen:
1) Change the name of the old place known as Baya Ender, “Place du Capitain Mbay Diagne”
2) Replace the old bronze statue of the colonial general with the UN “blue helmet” officer, a symbol of supreme heroism.
I am sure that these two proposals will win the support of St. Louisians who are so attached to these core values which are JOM, FIT, FULLA, but also YERMANDE: empathy, compassion, humanism, of which Captain Mbaye Diagon was very incarnate in his lifetime. Captain Mbaye Diagon’s name is an anchor of the most positive traditional values and symbolizes both future projections because he is our contemporary. He is the perfect example to awaken Senegalese and African youth in search of landmarks. Immortalizing this brave soldier, hero and peace initiator by erecting a statue in the middle of Ender Island would be doubly symbolic and would undoubtedly contribute to a stronger awareness of our common identity issues and a redefined paradigm. Our collective imagination and our history.
We can never say that enough: Captain Mbaye Diagon was deeply human at a time when brutality and horror had reached their climax. He showed almost superhuman courage and an unwavering clarity when the world observed murderous silence in the face of the heinous genocide that took place in a small country in South Africa.
When the monsters come out who knows what the hell hell pool mercilessly killed thousands of innocent victims with knives, we covered our eyes and ears to get a better taste of the Football World Cup. It was at this moment that the heroic captain, overwhelmed with indifference, uttered this cry from the heart, this cry of tragic rebellion: “How the world, how the rest of humanity was able to leave humanity ?!”
True, the story, or rather, Captain Mbaye Diagon’s epic must be familiar to everyone, especially the young, by the duty of memory, but also because it is appropriate to celebrate the only meaningful cause: the human cause. . For this reason, we would be happy and proud to see Saint-Louisians and Saint-Louisians, the statues of Captain Mbaye Diagon, the greatest hero in our country’s history, standing at the very heart of Ender Island.