Diario del H. Miguel A. Isla, asesinado en Bugobe

Martyrs of Bugobe

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This is an unpublished document, the “other” Diary, the Jambo Diary, which, picked up from the floor in the house where the four brothers were killed, came to me after I visited Rwanda and Congo a few months after their death. I personally believe it is a necessary annex to Miguel Ángel’s personal diary (Edelvives) and sheds light on his life and personality.

Miguel Á., besides my Marist brother, he was a very personal friend since our meeting and collaboration on development projects when I visited Côte d’Ivoire as Director of SED.

Br. Jack González. (Director of SED  from 1992 to 1999).

The Jambo Diary of Miguel A. Isla

25 years of the death of the Marist Brothers of Bugobe, 1996-2021
Bother Jack González. 18 October 2021

When on November 8th 1996, Brother Pedro Arrondo, and some Divine Master sisters, arrived at the barracks of the Our Lady of Peace mission, near the Nyamirangwe refugee camp, Bugobe (Zaire), where the brothers Miguel Ángel, Julio, Fernando and Servando lived and had been murdered by banyamulenge militiamen (1), they found everything destroyed and scattered on the ground. A broken Christ, that presided over their little chapel, some books and personal belongings will be recovered; among these was the Jambo Diary

The Jambo Diary or Agenda Kotecha

A Diary of the Kotecha Society that Brother Miguel Á. used as an agenda on outings and trips, containing basically shopping lists, notes from meetings, and financial data of projects, ends up in the hands of a Belgian brother from the Nyangezi community. The Jambo Diary is a typical Agenda Diary, this one from 1966 has black laminated pastes and with two entries per page in French and in English. The Kotecha Agenda shows still traces of a reddish mud, probably from the floor of Miguel Angel’s room, where it was found after his murder on October 31, 1966.

After seeking advice in Madrid from Jesús Jaúregui, Director of Cáritas for Africa, and by phone by Brother Jeffrey Crowe, Marist Councillor in Rome and responsible for that region in Africa, I travelled to Rwanda in April 1997, for, as Director of SED and in conversation with the Brothers working in the Great Lakes region, finance on the spot some humanitarian micro projects, assess the situation of the projects run by SED, and take note of urgent needs and requests.

A compulsory stopover in Brussels, only Sabena Airlines was at the time allowed flights to Kigali, offered me the opportunity to search for information about the funds of SED and of various Marist groups, largely deposited at the Banque Belgique Ltd .; the Brothers, and especially Miguel Ángel as administrator, used to finance the programs and micro-projects of the Nyamirangwe Refugee Camp through various accounts; great part of educational equipment, food and many other materials and products being purchased in the warehouses of the multinational Societé Kotecha in Bukavu.

Accompanied by Brother Roger Wenders, bursar of the Marist Province of Belgium, we tried to trace the “location” of these funds after the murder of the four Brothers; but in the central office of the B. B. Ltd. in Brussels, neither with prayers nor invoking the memory of blood of that money, we managed to break the sacred (!) banking secret.

Once in Rwanda, received by the Provincial Superior Brother Spiridion, I visited the Marist projects and schools, and some Government ones, and we distributed SED funds to help recover, as a priority, schools half destroyed in the recent civil war, and support humanitarian work at Save, managed by the Marist Missionary Sisters and the Brothers. Later on, with Brother T. Kalisa, we crossed the border into Zaire (present-day DRC) to do the same in Goma area. The lack of security due to attacks by guerrilla groups, and also the closure of many businesses and shops, made the trip to the Kotecha department store in Bukabu inadvisable. Upon my return to SED headquarters in Madrid, we continued contact with the brothers in Rwanda and Congo, supporting several projects and micro projects presented by our Marist counterpart in both countries.

Back in Spain, what was my surprise, when on a visit to Los Molinos, a Marist Residence in the Sierra of Madrid, I was given a small package containing this Jambo Diary; among its pages a letter from Brother Roger W. dated September 26, informing me of the sending, through Brother Provincial of Madrid, of an Agenda used by Brother Miguel Ángel, and, also, his unsuccessful contacts, by telephone, with Mr. Kotecha himself in London (the General Manager of the multinational), to press for information and the recovery of funds deposited by SED and other Marist entities in any of the accounts of the Kotecha Company.

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