Louis Rwagasore

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"The historic significance of Rwagasore’s murder is enormous: it is truly a day on which doors were closed for Burundi. Note that all this took place against the backdrop of Rwanda's 'social revolution' [...] From now on, increasingly, the Rwandan term for demokarasi, referring to ethnic majority politics, would sound appealing to some Burundian Hutu and scary to most Tutsi."

Peter Uvin, American political scientist, writing in 2009 [80]

After his death, historian Aidan Russell wrote that Rwagasore's reputation was quickly transformed into that of a "hero and martyr" and that he was the subject of a "competitive hagiography". [81] Within Burundi, his reputation enjoys nearly-universal acclaim, with his speeches often being quoted in political discussions [2] and his surviving political opponents and their descendants offering praise of him. [82] His assassination is commemorated annually with large ceremonies. Historian Christine Deslaurier wrote that "it is the martyrological dimensions of his anti-colonialism that have established a consensus around his mythical figure, more than his political and social thought." [2]

Rwagasore's widespread popularity in Burundi stands in contrast to the divided feelings toward most other domestic historical figures. [82] He remains relatively unknown internationally, with his career overshadowed by those of Nyerere and Lumumba and his assassination eclipsed by the Congo Crisis and the contemporary ethnic violence in Rwanda. [2] Nyerere baptised one of his grandsons with the name Louis in honour of Rwagasore. [83]


  1. According to Carol Wilson Dickerman, the CCB was founded in 1956 but came under Rwagasore's leadership in 1957. [10]
  2. The Conseil Supérieur du Pays was an advisory body presided over by the Mwami that had some competence over budgetary and administrative affairs in Urundi. [13]
  3. Rwagosore's connections with Nyerere caused consternation to the Belgian administration, and the Sûreté recorded the two meeting each other in person about 10 times. The Belgians also feared Rwagasore's relations with Congolese nationalist Patrice Lumumba, but the two were not particularly close and only met each other twice. [15]
  4. Sources differ on the circumstances of UPRONA's founding. According to political scientist Warren Weinstein, UPRONA was created shortly after a 1958 meeting of customary chiefs and clergy convened by Rwagasore and Léopold Biha to discuss nationalist ideas. [16] According to Biha, UPRONA was created in 1957 to protest a Belgian administrative reorganisation that disempowered the monarchy. [17] According to linguist Ellen K. Eggers, UPRONA was formed in the late 1950s and Rwagasore became heavily involved with it in 1958. [18] According to Governor-General of Ruanda-Urundi Jean-Paul Harroy, Rwagasore founded the party in late 1959. It received official recognition from the colonial administration as a political party on 7 January 1960. [19]
  5. Mwambutsa IV had been quietly supportive of his son's attempts to build a political career in the late 1950s, but encouraged other Ganwa to compete with Rwagasore to ensure his own authority remained unchallenged. [21] Mwambutsa cared little for UPRONA and his son was not among his close confidants. [22] At the centre of their political differences was Rwagasore's anti-colonial rhetoric, which frustrated Mwambutsa, as he felt it strained the monarchy's relationship with the Belgians. [23]
  6. Though styled "crown prince", Rwagasore was not heir apparent to the throne. [31]
  7. Researchers Helmut Strizek and Günther Philipp identified the conflict among the nobility as being of great national importance, as Hutu-Tutsi tensions and republican tendencies were playing a relatively minor role in Burundi at the time. [36] [37]
  8. The 100 franc note, which has borne Rwagasore’s image since it was introduced, is the one most commonly used Burundians in daily life. [67]

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  1. 1 2 3 Weinstein 1976, p. 251.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Deslaurier, Christine (2010). "Louis Rwagasore, martyr de l'indépendance burundaise". Afrique Contemporaine (in French). 3 (235). pp. 68–69.
  3. 1 2 McDonald 1969, p. 78.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Akyeampong & Gates 2012, p. 229.
  5. Lemarchand 1970, pp. 328, 335.
  6. Deslaurier 2013, paragraph 10, footnote 13.
  7. Deslaurier 2013, paragraph 12.
  8. Deslaurier 2013, footnote #48.
  9. 1 2 Lemarchand 1970, p. 331.
  10. Dickerman 1984, pp. 254–255, 273.
  11. Deslaurier 2013, paragraph 10.
  12. 1 2 Weinstein 1976, pp. 124–125.
  13. Weinstein 1976, p. 121.
  14. Weinstein 1976, p. 122.
  15. Deslaurier 2013, paragraph 16, footnote 22.
  16. 1 2 3 4 Weinstein 1976, p. 277.
  17. Lemarchand 1970, pp. 326–327.
  18. Eggers 2006, p. 157.
  19. Harroy 1988, p. 611.
  20. Lemarchand 1970, p. 328.
  21. Weinstein 1976, p. 200.
  22. Lemarchand 1970, p. 339.
  23. Carbone 2000, pp. 28–29.
  24. 1 2 3 Lemarchand 1970, p. 330.
  25. Lemarchand 1970, pp. 330, 339.
  26. Lemarchand 1970, pp. 330, 361.
  27. Lemarchand 1970, p. 335.
  28. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 De Witte, Ludo (16 July 2013). "L'assassinat du Premier ministre burundais Louis Rwagasore". La Revue Toudi (in French). Center d'études wallonnes et de République. Retrieved 20 July 2021.
  29. Lemarchand 1970, p. 333.
  30. Lemarchand 1970, pp. 331–332.
  31. 1 2 "Urundi Premier Slain by Gunman : Prince Had Led Nationalists —Assassin Escapes". The New York Times. Reuters. 15 October 1961. p. 25.
  32. Russell 2019, p. 81.
  33. Akyeampong & Gates 2012, p. 230.
  34. Ghislain 1970, p. 70.
  35. Lemarchand 1970, pp. 335–337.
  36. 1 2 3 4 Strizek 2006, p. 164.
  37. 1 2 3 4 5 Philipp 1978, p. 580.
  38. Ghislain 1970, pp. 49–50.
  39. Strizek 1996, p. 121.
  40. "Mirerekano, Paul (1921–1965)". Oxford Reference. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 30 July 2021.
  41. 1 2 3 Deslaurier 2013, paragraph 16.
  42. Lemarchand 1970, p. 338.
  43. Weinstein 1976, p. 10.
  44. Ghislain 1970, p. 83.
  45. 1 2 Philipp 1978, p. 581.
  46. 1 2 Philipp 1978, pp. 580–581.
  47. 1 2 3 Lemarchand 1970, p. 340.
  48. 1 2 3 Weinstein 1976, p. 252.
  49. 1 2 Ghislain 1970, p. 85.
  50. "Louis Rwagasore, the unifying prince". Deutsche Welle. 24 January 2018. Retrieved 21 July 2021.
  51. Harroy 1988, p. 615.
  52. Poppe 2015, p. 157.
  53. "Urundi Prince-Premier Assassinated in Africa". The Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. 15 October 1961. p. 1A.
  54. 1 2 3 4 Poppe 2015, p. 159.
  55. 1 2 Lemarchand 1970, p. 341.
  56. Lemarchand 1970, pp. 341–342.
  57. Weinstein 1976, pp. 280–281.
  58. 1 2 "BURUNDI – BELGIUM: Rwagasore Assassination Probe". Africa Research Bulletin : Political, Social and Cultural Series. 55 (10). November 2018. pp. 22062A–22063A.
  59. "New Premier in Urundi". The New York Times. Reuters. 21 October 1961. p. 7.
  60. Ghislain 1970, p. 87.
  61. Lemarchand 1970, p. 342.
  62. Lemarchand 1970, pp. 301–302.
  63. Eggers 2006, p. 135.
  64. Deslaurier 2013, paragraph 20.
  65. Carbone 2000, pp. 45–46.
  66. Deslaurier 2013, paragraph 20, footnote 32.
  67. Deslaurier 2013, footnote 35.
  68. Deslaurier 2013, footnote 33.
  69. "Burundi Inaugurates One-Plane Airline". The New York Times. Associated Press. 11 February 1963. p. 25.
  70. Ghislain 1970, p. 90.
  71. Deslaurier 2013, paragraphs 21–22.
  72. Deslaurier 2013, paragraph 23.
  73. Deslaurier 2013, paragraphs 23–24.
  74. Deslaurier 2013, paragraph 25, footnote 42.
  75. Deslaurier 2013, paragraph 25.
  76. Deslaurier 2013, paragraph 26.
  77. Deslaurier 2013, paragraph 27.
  78. Deslaurier 2013, paragraph 28.
  79. "Burundi's Pierre Nkurunziza renames historical landmarks". The East African. 3 July 2019. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
  80. Uvin 2009, p. 9.
  81. Russell 2019, p. 132.
  82. 1 2 Deslaurier 2013, paragraph 29.
  83. Deslaurier 2013, paragraph 34.

Works cited

Further reading

Louis Rwagasore
Louis Rwagasore portrait.png
2nd Prime Minister of Burundi
In office
28 September 1961 13 October 1961