Survivors, government officials and residents of Rwamagana District Friday gathered at Musha Genocide Memorial Site to pay tribute to the over 20,000 victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Many speakers said that April 13 is a day the people from this area will never forget, a day when over 6,000 Tutsi who had sought refuge at Musha Catholic Church were attacked and killed by the Interahamwe militia.
The commemoration event also saw 12 bodies which were recovered from the nearby areas over the past months given decent burial at the site.
John Baptist Munyaneza, the head of Ibuka – the umbrella body for Genocide survivors – in Rwamagana, said this period is one of mourning but also reflecting on the survival stories and to take time to express gratitude to those that stopped the Genocide.
“This is what we are thankful to God and Government for. We are standing here not just to tell sad stories because we survived, but we are also here to express our gratitude for a better country we have today,” says Munyaneza, adding that survivors are happy today.
Emmanuel Sehene, a family member of one of the victims that were laid to rest on Friday, said that nothing makes him happy than seeing a government of killers replaced by one which strives to make a difference in their lives and put emphasis on honouring their loved ones.
Among the interred victims, Sehene said, include one man named Laurent Sagahutu who was killed by someone whom he was treating as a ‘brother’.
Speaking at the commemoration event, Pauline Mukabarisa, a survivor in Musha who lost her husband to Genocide and survived with three children, including one who was born during the Genocide, said survivors are not a burden to society like she used to think, but a solution.
“After the Genocide, I always thought that even though I survived, I would be a burden to others, to those living with me, and those who killed us,” she said.
“But now I thank God that I’m not a burden, but a solution to society,” she said adding that she was homeless for five years after the Genocide.
The Rwamagana Vice-Mayor for Economic Development, Regis Mudaheranwa, said that, in 1991, there was a census conducted with an aim to profile people according to their ethnicity.
“And the census reported that Gikoro Commune, of which Musha was part of, had the second largest Tutsi population, only behind the present-day Nyaruguru District,” Mudaheranwa said, adding that this made it difficult to escape the marauding killers.
In his remarks, the Eastern Province Governor, Fred Mufulukye, said parents have a responsibility to end genocide ideology for good.
“We need to impart good values among our children. They’re the future. They will replace us in taking the nation forward.”