By Robert Rutoma
Rugema Narcisse, commonly known as Kayumba Rugema on Facebook, was born 43 years ago to Claudien Kayumba and Jeanne Bazubagira in Rwekubo, Nakivale Refugee Camp in Mbarara District, Uganda. Those who grew up with him knew him as Gafirifiri, a nickname he earned because he started drinking waragi, a local, crudely distilled potent drink in Uganda, at quite a tender age.
To those that knew this Rwandan boy quite well (who is a nephew of Kayumba Nyamwasa, currently a fugitive from justice living in South Africa), these were the early signs of an unstable character.
Rugema then grew up in Uganda, starting his schooling at Bujaburi, Kyaka II in Tooro District. He also was at another school, Rwekubo Primary in Nakivale. Between 1992 and 1995, he went to Isingiro Secondary School where he pursued his O-Level studies, before his family moved with him to Rwanda. By then the RPF had liberated the country and laid the ground for all Rwandan refugees or exiles to return home.
That was how Rugema could be able to enroll at Rwanda International Academy in Kicukiro (formerly ETO Kicukiro, now IPRC Kigali). But “the seed of instability” had kept growing in this young man. Some sources say the school administration suspended him several times, mostly for “acute indiscipline”. Part of the problem was drunkenness outside school premises. Another problem was getting into frequent fights.
“This was just a very impossible character!” exclaims a former schoolmate that talked to us on condition of anonymity. People that went with Kayumba Rugema to school disclose that he only completed high school at Lycee de Kigali following an indefinite suspension from the Rwanda International Academy. That was between 1996 and 1998.
After high school, Rugema joined the Rwanda Defense Force in 1998, and he was made part of the nascent Rwanda Air force. In 2000, Corporal Rugema was cleared for further studies and enrolled at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) on a government scholarship, graduating in 2005 in Food Science.
But upon graduation when Rugema was recalled to resume duties in the army, the first thing he did was to rebel. He just declined and gave no reasons. Several attempts by the army administration to trace, or contact and counsel him proved to be futile. He later deserted the army and fled to Uganda. “In any case there was no way an undisciplined character like him was going to manage to stay in a force like RDF,” one of our sources said.
Memories of Rugema by those that grew up with him in the refugee settlements, and those that studied with him are of a troublesome, ill-disciplined and problematic young boy that had “no respect at all for his parents and elders!” There is a particular tale of how he one time led a group of young boys and convinced them to defecate in a refugee community water well. That was after he was reprimanded by a neighbor for assaulting and injuring a young girl from a neighbouring refugee settlement unit.
During his time in Rwanda, Rugema was known mostly as a confrontational and easily irritated individual. During his time at the Rwanda International Academy, Rugema would always pick fights with fellow students, and if the head teacher or the school’s discipline master tried to reprimand him, he would throw a tantrum. He would insult them and leave school for days.
“He was an absentee student that mostly appeared when exams were about to be written,” former fellow students say. They remark that nobody was surprised when he registered “an abysmal performance” on his national high school certificate exams.
Life did not treat Rugema well while in self-imposed exile in Uganda. In 2009 he took a job as a security guard in Iraq through a company owned by Museveni’s half-brother, Salim Saleh. It was a one-year contract and when it ended Rugema was back in Uganda, frustrated and broke. But somehow Rugema “conned” his way to Norway, on claims of “persecution”. He left Uganda and went to Oslo, just leaving his family behind.
It was while in Norway that he joined his uncle Kayumba Nyamwasa’s RNC terror group as “representative of the RNC in Scandinavian countries”. Rugema became quite vicious in his attacks against Rwanda on Social Media platforms, especially Facebook. He would also be a regular guest on anti-Rwanda online radios where he peddled lies and toxic propaganda against the Rwanda leadership.
When RNC became quite active in Uganda, getting all the facilitation to operate freely, around 2016-17, Rugema was back in Kampala openly working as an RNC agent, including missions with operatives of Ugandan Military Intelligence (CMI) to recruit rebels in the plot to destabilize Rwanda.
RNC was Museveni’s main proxy group in his long-term plan (many call it a fantasy), to “effect regime change in Kigali.”
It was during this time that Rugema, working in cahoots with CMI, abducted Fidele Gatisnzi – an elderly Rwandan man that was in Uganda to visit his son at a university in Mukono. The victim would describe to the media how once in the car in which they abducted him, Rugema shouted at him “like a madman!” Gatsinzi said the man was hurling accusations of “spying”, and of “being an agent of Kigali”!, all that Gatsinzi had no idea about.
They would torture, and later dump at the Gatuna Border. He was in a very bad condition, unable to walk and they had to place him in a wheelchair. But he thanked God for “saving him from a madman!”
Rugema’s anti-Rwanda activities came to the notice of the Norwegian asylum authorities. For fear of losing his refugee status, he left Uganda and went back to Norway. However, his social media attacks on Rwanda escalated. This website has learnt that recently, Rugema lost his job as a waiter at a restaurant in Oslo after several altercations with clients.
According to what we have learnt, customers complained about Kayumba’s lack of focus and concentration while at work.
Without a regular job to keep him busy, Rugema Kayumba is said to have launched an anti-Rwanda online radio which he has called Inda Y’ingoma, (he claims to talk about “the system’s underbelly”).
But his “broadcasts” come off more as unhinged rantings than anything else.