Cyprien Rugamba was a renowned intellectual and artist in Rwanda. He was an author, poet, composer, and choreographer known for showcasing the vast richness of Rwandan art. To this day his songs are still well known and deeply rooted in the heritage of Rwanda.
Before his successful career and rise to fame, however, Cyprien was sent to the seminary. Without much spiritual motivation, during his time there he lost his faith. This was mainly as a result of discovering the writings of certain existential philosophers who wrote against the Church’s teachings as well as being shocked to discover various scandals of his fellow seminarians.
After leaving the seminary he began new studies in Belgium and from there went on to have a successful career working in administration for the Rwandan government. He helped establish a Rwandan cultural center that focused on not only preserving but also encouraging others to continue creating, traditional Rwandan art.
This focus on saving traditional art, which was on the cusp of disappearing due to colonization, gave Cyprien a high level of recognition in society - he was seen as a champion of the arts.
Cyprien was engaged to be married to his great love, Xaverina Mukahigiro. But tragically in 1963, she was killed with several members of her family. In order to honor the engagement, he had made to her family, Cyprien asked Xaverina’s cousin, Daphrosa Mukansanga, for her hand in marriage.
In 1965 Cyprien married Daphrosa, a young woman with a strong devotion to prayer. For the first 17 years, their marriage faced great difficulties which led to the couple separating for several months. Cyprien was ready to renounce Daphrosa as his wife, but after eight months the two reconciled and reunited. However, Cyprien continued to be unfaithful to his marriage, had extramarital affairs and even a child out of wedlock.
In addition to this, Cyprien had a radical disdain and atheism towards his wife’s Christian faith. This caused enormous suffering to Daphrosa, but despite her husband’s actions she strongly believed in the sanctity of marriage and remained faithful to her Christian faith. With Cyprien’s consent, she would bring her ten children to Mass, praying patiently and unceasingly for the conversion of her husband.