Who is Yolande MAKOLO, the lady who called Kenneth Roth a “virus” ?

To understand Yolande MAKOLO, you need to know Jeannette Nyiramongi, wife of Paul Kagame. The two ladies’ stories are intertwined.

Jeannette Nyiramongi

She is the daughter of Mr. Murefu. Their family lived in exile in Bujumbura, Burundi when in 1983 Murefu was accused of spying on behalf of  the Government of Hayarimana in Rwanda. Mr Murefu was expelled to find himself in Kigali where he was well received. He started doing business. He ran a bistro and a nightclub in the center of the capital city, Kigali; in a building belonging to Matthieu Ngirumpatse, who was then president of the MRND, the political party under President Habyarimana’s regime. A rental guarantee check was deposited by Jean Huss Mugwaneza, a family friend, and a successful businessman. Mr Mugwaneza was the elder brother to Robert Kajuga, the famous leader of the Interahamwe.

Kajuga Robert

Robert Kajuga, leader of the Interahamwe

At that time, Jeannette Nyiramongi wass a young flourishing girl enjoying herself in Kigali. Jean Huss Mugwaneza offered to help her follow studies in Naïrobi, Kenya. Mr  Jean Huss Mugwaneza had a juicy market of supplying gypsum to the CIMERWA factory. Gypsum is a kind of rock used as a raw material for making cement. This stone was imported from the mountains of Kenya where Jean Huss Mugwaneza had opened mining sites. He therefore used to make frequent stays in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

How Makolo comes in

Despite Mr. Mugwaneza’s support, Jeannette Kagame fell in troubles. She was rescued and taken in by the family of a certain Speciose Kayihura, mother of Yolande Makolo. After a few years, from that family Jeannette Nyiramongi was introduced to her charming prince Paul Kagame who, in 1989, hastened the wedding arrangements before going to war.

Kagame conquered Rwanda in July 1994. He reigned as the strong man in Kigali and will be officially sworn in as president in 2000, making Jeannette Nyiramongi de facto the First Lady. Jeannette Kagame will not forget her benefactors, starting with the Speciose Kayihura family who sheltered her during the bad days in Naïrobi. This is how Yolande Makolo landed in President’s office as director in charge of the communications.

Nepotism at play:

Jeannette Kagame wants to keep control on everything, or at least , to have an eye in each corner of the State’s. As such , she places her cronies tactically ( in different times).

  1. Yvonne Makolo ( sister to Yolande Makolo) is CEO of Rwandair, the national  air company.
  2. Viviane Kayitesi Kayihura, chief of the Rwandan Development Bank (BRD), then posted to Ankara in Turkey;
  3. Teta Rutimirwa Kayihura, head of urban planning in the city of Kigali;
  4. Eugene Kayihura, Ambassador of Rwanda to South Korea, Tanzania and then to the Seychelles Islands;
  5. Tesi Kayihura, stationed at the Embassy of Rwanda in Singapore;
  6. Rema and Minego, board members of the government newspaper The New Times;
  7. Urujeni Manzi Bakuramutsa, current director of the office of Paul Kagame,  her mother is the sister of Speciose Kayihura, …

The father of Yolande Makolo is a Congolese man from Luba tribe (muluba). She is married to another congolese man, but not a less important one: Bosco Ntaganda’s brother. Bosco Ntaganda aka “Terminator”, was a henchman of President Paul Kagame in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) before being arrested and tried by the International Criminal Cout (ICC) in The Hague. He was sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Ituri in 2002-2003.

Power-drunk ?

Strengthened by her relationships with the first lady, Yolande Makolo has become, over the years, one of the most powerful women in “New Rwanda”. In her role as Director of Communication for President Kagame, she spearheaded  attacks on social media against Presidents Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, who, – it is in the air- maintain not-so-good relations with President Paul Kagame.

Recently, Yolande Makolo has been replaced by another woman in the seraglio, Stéphanie Nyombayire, but she remains in power as responsible for “General Affairs of the Presidency of the Republic”. It is unclear as to what her post refers to, but we know that in this capacity she attacked Kenneth Roth, Director of Human Rights Watch, calling him “virus Ken Covid-20”.


It reminds me that  in Lexico the adjective “power-drunk” applies to a person intoxicated by the possession of power; rendered irrational by power.

Information from www.echosdafrique.com

Free translation and comments by Chaste Gahunde.

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