|Lord Rector of the University of Edinburgh|
|Assumed office |
1 March 2021
|Preceded by||Ann Henderson|
|Born||April 1975 (age 46)|
Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo
|Political party||Scottish Socialist Party|
|Occupation||Human rights lawyer|
Debora Kayembe Buba (born in April 1975) is a Scottish human rights lawyer and political activist. She has served on the board of the Scottish Refugee Council, and is a member of the office of the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court and the International Criminal Court Bar Association.
Background in the DRC
She originally comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Educated at the Universite Libre de Kinshasa, Kayembe was a human rights activist with the NGO Toges noires (Black Togas) before her career as a barrister began with the Congolese Bar Association in 2000. Her role extended to investigating foreign investment corruption in the DRC. Kayembe was part of a delegation sent by President Joseph Kabila to South Africa aiming to establish a commission to investigate human rights in DRC. This led her to investigate a massacre in Bunia in the Second Congo War, for which any honest reporting on the horrors she investigated may have put herself in jeopardy, she was advised. Thus she emigrated to the United Kingdom as a political asylum refugee in 2005, in Blackburn, near Manchester with assistance from her MP Jack Straw ensuring she was not expelled, and got final permission to remain granted in 2007. Debora Kayembe has two children.
Experiences in the UK
Kayembe is fluent in English, French, Lingala, Kikongo and Swahili acting as translator for refugees and patients in NHS hospitals. She has served on the Institute of Translation and Interpreting for ten years (to 2020).
She is a member of the Scottish Socialist Party, and sat on its Executive Committee from September 2015 to January 2021. Her other roles include representing refugees on the Royal Society of Edinburgh / Young Academy of Scotland  and is their expert lawyer for the RSE working group for Africa.
In 2020, Kayembe faced racist attacks  on her home in Bonnyrigg, Midlothian and later in relation to her election as rector.  She started the Freedom Walk campaign, a civil rights movement lobbying on behalf of citizens and petitioning by promoting social reforms, racial justice and community harmony, in particularly with regard to educational racism.
In February 2021 when she was elected Rector of the University of Edinburgh, Kayembe became the third woman since 1858 to hold the role just after Muriel Gray and Ann Henderson. Her appointment was welcomed by her local MP Owen Thomson with a call for changes in the UK immigration laws.
Kayembe's focus as Rector for the three years will be on the Covid19 pandemic, fighting racism, encouraging diversity and equal access to higher education. In welcoming her to the University, Principal and Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Mathieson was looking forwards to working with her to 'build a bright future for the entire University'.
External sources (media)
- BBC interview https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p08p8lqm
- Debora Kayembe Official youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPjFcSwigkzEoGtcKhVbNoA
- "Debora KAYEMBE - Personal Appointments (free information from Companies House)". Companies House service. Retrieved 2021-02-17.
- "Debora Kayembe elected as Rector". The University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 2021-03-08.
- "DRC: Meet Debora Kayembe, new rector at University of Edinburgh". The Africa Report.com. 2021-02-17. Retrieved 2021-03-08.
- "Debora Kayembe". Young Academy of Scotland. Retrieved 2021-03-08.
- "Full Options". Retrieved 2021-03-08.
- Association, Press (2021-02-05). "Former refugee elected as Edinburgh University rector". Evening Express. Retrieved 2021-02-05.
- "Portraits of the asylum seekers known as the new Scots". HeraldScotland. Retrieved 2021-02-05.
- "Racism in Midlothian: Debora's story". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
- Speirs, Kathleen (28 July 2020). "'I'll give you fight of your life' Mum driven out home vows to tackle racists". Daily Record. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
- "Human rights lawyer elected Rector". The University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 2021-02-05.
- News, Scottish Legal. "Human rights lawyer elected rector of Edinburgh University". Scottish Legal News. Retrieved 2021-02-05.
- "Debora Kayembe: Edinburgh University appoints first black rector". today.rtl.lu. Retrieved 2021-03-08.
- "Une congolaise va diriger l'université d'Edinburgh en Ecosse (CongoForum)" (in French). Congo Forum. 8 February 2021. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
- "Midlothian MP calls for an end to "anti-family" immigration rules". www.midlothianadvertiser.co.uk. Retrieved 2021-03-08.
- "Prominent human rights lawyer, Deborah Kayembe, elected rector of the University of Edinburgh". HeraldScotland. Retrieved 2021-03-08.
| Rector of the University of Edinburgh