Senegal Erects Statue in Honour of Soldier Who Died Saving Rwandans

Senegal’s President Macky Sall has inaugurated a statue in the capital Dakar in memory of Capt Mbaye Diagne, a Senegalese peacekeeper killed in Rwanda during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Diagne, who served in the United Nations mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR) in 1994, is celebrated for risking his life by confronting Interahamwe militia in defence of Tutsi men and women who were running for their lives during the massacres.

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As he inaugurated the statue, on Friday, March 22, President Sall honoured Diagne, who was born in 1928, as a national and global hero, who defended human values.

Le Chef de l’État a rendu un vibrant hommage à Mbaye Diagne, ce grand soldat, à travers l’inauguration d’un mémorial ce vendredi. Le Président @Macky_Sall a souhaité en faire un modèle et perpétuer la mémoire de ce capitaine décédé au Rwanda en 1994 lors d’une mission de l’ONU.— Présidence Sénégal (@PR_Senegal) March 22, 2024

It is said that the late peacekeeper told Interahamwe attackers that they would kill him before they could kill the Tutsi, according to testimony of Genocide survivors. It is believed that Diagne might have saved between 600 and 1,000 people before he was killed.

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Diagne was killed in a mortar attack in the morning of May 31, 1994 near a checkpoint erected by the genocidal regime’s army and militiamen. The post-genocide Rwandan government recognised Diagne’s selfless acts of saving lives during the Genocide against the Tutsi. In 2010, he was awarded Umurinzi, the campaign against Genocide medal, which was presented to the Senegalese peacekeeper’s widow Yacine Mar Diop by President Paul Kagame.

In 2014, the United Nations named a medal after Diagne in honour of his courage and bravery during his time in Rwanda.

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The Captain Mbaye Diagne Medal for Exceptional Courage is given to UN personnel who demonstrate exceptional courage in the face of extreme danger.

“Rwanda never missed an occasion to pay tribute to Captain Mbaye,” President Sall was quoted as saying during the ceremony on Friday. “The captain is our national hero who has exceptional values in our society. With his high acts in the army and exceptional qualities of humanism, he contributed highly to the prestige of Senegal through the UN medal.