Congo’s refugee in Scotland, Deborah Kiambe appointed Rector of Edinburgh University

Congo's refugee in Scotland, Deborah Kiambe appointed Rector of Edinburgh University

Sixteen years after he fled the Democratic Republic of Congo, as an armed group threatened that it would help end, Deborah Kaimbe is preparing to become rector of the University of Edinburgh, a respected university. The installation will be run by a black woman for the first time in its long history.

Members of Congolese Bar since 2000, now aged 45, lawyers have never returned to their country, where their lives are still threatened. Since applying for asylum in the UK in 2004, political activists have specialized in human rights matters.

Despite her career, she believes that nothing was prepared to seek the assistance of Edinburgh University, founded in the 16th century. Last November, she was approached to find out if she would consider accepting the post, to say the least, reputedly. She agreed, though she felt her chances were slim.

“It’s something I never imagined”

Deborah Kiambe, new Rector of Edinburgh University

To AFP

His appointment left him speechless. “It’s something I never looked for, it happened on a set. I express a sense of deep gratitude to those who nominated me as a candidate. This is a big responsibility because I am an example to show the world that if you are able to do the right thing and fight for justice by forgetting yourself and putting the cause of others first, the reward will always be great “, He announced the next day of his election.

Several months before her appointment, Deborah Kaimbe found herself embroiled in a struggle she initially wanted to avoid. One night, a dozen teenagers chanted in front of her house: “Go home !”Last June, she was in a car accident when someone punctured her tires. “I had to call the police several times” , She believes.

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She recounts everything that had happened on social media. But instead of looking for a confrontation, he opted for a message of tolerance and dialogue with his attackers. “I told them : ‘Look, these things are a thing of the past. We are past. If you still don’t understand, we have to talk. ‘ This was my message. Nothing else.”

After a while, her daughter came back from school in tears, a teacher asked her to “A Slave Dance”In front of his classmates. The lawyer did not leave the case behind. After clarification with the school, he launched a petition for the Scottish Parliament to urgently address racism in the education system. Parliament agreed, the issue would be debated in the coming months.

It was the exact message of dialogue and tolerance that attracted the attention of the University of Edinburgh. Which counts among its alumni prime ministers, Nobel laureates and Olympic athletes.

“Respect for the values ​​of humanity and kindness is at the heart of my work, and I look forward to working with staff, students and the entire university community to ensure that everyone is valued.”

“He told me that as Rector of the university your message will go far and the whole world will listen.” , She reports. That’s why we want you to do the job. “Born in Kinshasa and his uncle, a doctor, according to Deborah Kaimbe, his family in DRC became emotional upon hearing this news. “There is a sense of national pride, they are looking forward to the July 2021 opening ceremony in Scotland to see it with their own eyes” , She says.

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After their establishment on 1 March, their priority will be to ensure that the university attracts “The brightest brain in Scotland” To help him overcome coronavirus.

Deborah Kaimbe also wanted to send a message of hope to Africa, from where she received many congratulations, including Congo President Felix Tsedekedi. The rector told himself “Determined”Protecting the rights of students in the context of epidemics and strengthening the attractiveness of the University of Edinburgh in the world.

According to Deborah Kaymbe, the epidemic had the potential to open up opportunities for Africa, opening up possibilities for distance education. She hopes to be able through her post of Rector to promote better education for the continent. “Africa needs education, the best education, She insists. My role will be to ensure that it is high on the agenda. “

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