A great lady has passed on...

It is with deep sadness that the IHECS community learned of the death this Saturday 13 October of Solange Lusiku, a dedicated Congolese journalist and publisher of the independent newspaper Le Souverain.

For more than 15 years, Solange Lusiku ran the newspaper Le Souverain, the only independent print media in South Kivu.

She worked in an extremely challenging socio-political climate, the freedom and independence of the press being nothing short of a pipe dream in this part of the world. Solange Lusiku fought consistently to defend her values, facing both physical and verbal threats. She had to be evacuated from Bukavu for her safety on numerous occasions. She also encountered many practical obstacles: she won a small victory every time she published and distributed a newspaper.

Solange Lukisu and her editorial team also travelled the winding roads of South Kivu province to organise debates in the most remote villages on the most topical issues in order to inform the population and relay their diverse opinions. Her struggle involved offering free information to the inhabitants of Kivu, being on a permanent quest for truth, providing a haven for the voice of those most excluded, offering a model of transparency, disseminating values of honesty, commitment and freedom, and showing the example of a woman leader. She gave hope to an entire population, a population that remains to this day fettered by absolute poverty and subject to violent dominating relationships and she embodied the role of being a model for a whole generation of young journalists.

Among other awards, she received the "journalism courage award" in 2014 from the International Woman Media Foundation in the USA and she was appointed Doctor Honoris Causae at UCL in 2012. Her courage and determination have been recognised around the world.

The passing of this great lady is a monumental loss for the fight for greater freedom of the press, women and inhabitants of the Congo, but it also represents a family tragedy since, beyond the persona she embodied, she was also the mother of 7 children.

IHECS, which has been collaborating with her on several projects for many years, wishes to express its condolences to her family, her friends and her relatives, all of whom are suffering immense pain today.

A tribute ceremony will be held on 27 October at 1500 at the Ecumenical Centre on the Alma campus at Woluwé.