Theophile expressed that they wanted me to attend the funeral. So this morning, Thursday, I was picked up by our driver just before 9 AM. First, we traveled to a location in Kigali where we joined Theophile and several dozen others, along with the hearse (a station wagon).
Next we traveled to Zacharie’s home. As we were nearing the home, a car with a videographer sitting outside the car began to lead the processional. When we arrived at the home we went inside to a packed living room. We were pressed against the wall because of the number of people (maybe a hundred). The casket was brought in and we had a short service. Then a small door at the top of the casket was opened and people filed by to view the body. There was weeping and wailing at the loss of their loved one.
Once the room was almost empty, the casket was taken back to the hearse and we proceeded to the church building. They seated me on the platform with about fifty church leaders. I would estimate there were a thousand or more people inside and outside the building. Multiple church leaders spoke and then the family. At the conclusion to this service people filed by the casket again.
From the church service, some people walked and some rode to the cemetery. During the service it had started to rain. So now several hundred people are walking to the graveside in a light rain and the Rwandan terrain (Rwanda is called the land of a thousand hills). A concrete grave was already poured and set. After a graveside service the casket was lowered. Then the grave was covered with planks, followed by a sheet of plywood, followed by rebar, followed by concrete brought in by buckets, and then flowers on the fresh concrete. Most people waited at the grave until the grave cap was complete. In a few weeks the cap will be permanently finished.
Before we returned to Kigali, friends and family gathered at a “guest house” for Fanta. So, we arrived back in Kigali about 9 PM. Even though it was a twelve hour process, I was blessed to be there and Theophile and many church leaders seemed to appreciate my presence.