If there are still some for whom equity, equality, justice have a meaning, Jean-Damascène Hategekimana is one of those rare individuals whose value of being is not found only in words but also in attitude daily. He is a lawyer at the Brussels Bar since January 1, 2002. We meet this lawyer, one of the many examples of African excellence that the young generation Afro-descendants of Belgium can look to try to find a point of orientation. An example of professional success whose skills deserve to be put in the limelight.
Kigali, where it all started
Of Rwandan origin, Jean-Damascène Hategekimana studied law at the National University of Rwanda where he obtained a law degree. Then, following the unfortunate events that occurred in October 1990 and intensified in 1994, the population had to disperse or flee abroad. Jean-Damascène Hategekimana found himself in the refugee camps in Congo: “Until then, the armed forces led by Lurent Kabila came to attack,” he says. Protecting his life, he managed to find exile in Nairobi, Kenya. There, because of the insecurity and seeing that the job offers and opportunities are rare, he made a new trip. This time, direction Europe, Belgium.
In July 1998 he landed in Brussels as an asylum seeker. He is granted political refugee status. New battles were once again facing this brave, brave man who was not at his first obstacles. Life did not give him presents, yet he never had to give up.
After having obtained an equivalence of his diplomas despite all the difficulties that this represented for a refugee, he returned to university studies and he ended up obtaining a law degree at the ULB.
On December 04, 2001 he took an oath to practice as a lawyer. And as of January 1, 2002, he started working as a lawyer. But before mentioning Belgium, a brief look in the rearview mirror, far, far in his youth.
“Initially, I wanted to become a priest”
If today he is recognized by his peers for the quality of his work and recognition of his skills as a lawyer, this profession was not the first to which he wanted to predestinate. When he was young, he saw himself as a priest later.
So naturally he went to high school at the seminary. The way seemed to him all traced towards the Church. But after 7 years in high school, his vision of his professional future had changed. Family side also he was not encouraged to follow this path. Indeed, his father did not wish any more “that I become religious”. Then there was his brother-in-law, “my big sister’s husband,” he says. Murdered during the events of 1994, this man played a leading role and kept an indispensable place in the evolution of the young Hategekimana.
“When I graduated from high school, he was very proud of me, so happy. He offered me university studies in geography and history. What I refused. I did not see myself finishing as a teacher “. And as Jean-Damascene always had this propensity to defend the weakest, fight against injustices, preach fraternity, all values they saw in religious education, knowing all the same that he no longer wanted to be a priest he directed his future towards a profession as close as that of a man of the Church, a lawyer. Lawyer. “I chose the right because it was close to the morality of religion. It’s quite similar to religion, except it’s secular. ” The choice was made, his university degree in law obtained in Rwanda, on the advice of his brother-in-law, he was also able to work in the prosecutor’s office in a northern Rwanda prefecture as judicial police inspector. “It must be known, my brother-in-law was the highest magistrate in the country. He inspired me, “he confesses, his head down, the light tone …
JDH, Law Firm
Arrived in Belgium in July 1998, he was welcomed by a non-profit organization, Olivier. This Association has been a great support for a good part of his evolution in Belgium. He has volunteered as a legal advisor to the foreign public. And after vain job searches, he decided to launch himself. The collaboration with the Olivier lasted 6 years and ended in 2008.
Dreamy, ambitious, Jean-Damascene Hategekimana after six years of service was now bigger. He made proposals in this direction to the non-profit association: “I have proposed that they extend their services to other lawyers so that we have a greater influence through the work we would do towards refugees. “. This offer did not have an ec