Law Grad Aims to Help Rebuild Rwanda

Matilda Mutanguha and family


Matilda "Mati" Mutanguha aims to become a human rights and women’s right activist, and her goals are informed by the history of her family, which fled Rwanda in the '60s to escape tribal persecution.

Mutanguha, who graduated from the Law School in May, has been offered a research internship at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. She hopes to return to Rwanda one day, equipped with the knowledge and experience to play a key role in rebuilding her beloved homeland.

Mutanguha grew up in Uganda, where she and her family members were considered refugees because they never attained citizenship.

"Growing up as a refugee in Uganda, I knew I was different,” she said. “You see, unlike my childhood friends, I did not have a place to call my homeland.”

Her father, now retired, eventually became a Rwandan diplomat and ambassador to Japan and Tanzania.

Mutanguha, who speaks five languages, was the recipient of the 2010 Robert H. Smith Scholarship for her work in public service. The National Association of Women Judges awarded Mutanguha the 2008 Ruth I. Abrams Scholarship Award for her work in international human rights.

Her contributions have included an internship at The Hague in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, where she helped gather evidence, draft motions, conduct research, and prepare for witness interviews. She also volunteered at the Forum for African Women Educationalists in Kigali, Rwanda, serving as a mentor to young girls, and as a gender, legal, and human rights journalist at New Times Magazine in Kigali, where she reported on human rights violations and various strategies being implemented to empower the African women. 

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