|CAPTAIN MBAYE: A FORGOTTEN HERO WITH UNPAID DUES.
25 April 2004
While several U.N. senior officials have a lot to be embarrassed about in Rwanda, there was one
courageous and creative hero who should be remembered better. By all counts, Captain Mbaye of the
Senegalese battalion braved murderous barricades to do his duty. Unarmed except with a winning
smile and easy approach, he secretly smuggled women and children in his jeep and hid them in
basements before finding a safe way out. That noble follower of the true Islamic faith risked his
life every day to defend Christian believers huddled in threatened churches. The BBC correspondent
who was aware of this one man humanitarian expedition agreed to keep it quiet at the time to help
save more civilians. Eventually, someone informed the murderers. One day while driving his clearly
marked U.N. white jeep, Captain Mbaye Diagne was killed by a mortar. His colleagues draped his
body with the U.N. flag, solemnly -- and helplessly -- walking through the streets of Kigali.
Ten years later, those of us who remember that brave young Senegalese pay tribute to him, to his
dedication and to his true belief in human brotherhood. He gave the ultimate price. But neither the
U.N. Secretariat nor his own government has compensated his family adequately. While making all these
ceremonial declarations, it will be more befitting if one of those senior officials made a special
effort to reach out to his family at their day of remembrance and their time of need.