This morning, Esdras Birasa answered the final call and passed away, after a short bout with cancer.
Rwanda has lost a true patriot, an intellectual in his own right.
Words pale in shadow of grief.
What I write here is only an inadequate expression of what we, especially in the diaspora carry in our hearts. Birasa’s passing has hit us like a ton of bricks. Why do the good die young?
The man was passionate about Rwanda, and he eloquently, even though sarcastically at times, said what he had to say in a way only Birasa could muster.
Most of Birasa’s family was lost during the genocide against Tutsi in 1994. His pain and sorrow did not ever silence or dilute his thoughts on where Rwanda is and where it ought to go.
Birasa was a walking encyclopedia of useful information; be it the stock market or African politics, or international affairs. He was a joy to listen to. A sharp and quick mind. He was never afraid to offer a different version of how things ought to be. Damn it, it was as if everybody was entitled to his opinion. We all listened.
Birasa’s pride in Rwanda and who we are as a People is legendary. And decades living in America did not dilute or compromise his love for the land of his forefathers.
The best we can do is remember Birasa — remember how he lived, bringing life and joy to those who knew him and pride to Rwanda.
We will always cherish his presence among us. I know today Rwandans all over the world who knew him are reaching out, holding hands, and finding comfort in one another.
In the loneliness of my heart, his passing is a sharp and sad affair. But I am the luckier for having called him my friend, and my brother.
In the words of a poet;
“Heaven has called upon you today,
leaving so many words left to say.
But now it’s too late, for your time has come,
words unspoken; I am sure everybody has some.
Regrets and wishes are there too,
but lasting forever are memories of you.”
Birasa, my brother, you were a class act. Rest well.