Hate media: Ngeze and his role in inciting the 1994 Genocide

The radical Kangura newspaper, and its editor, Hassan Ngeze, have left an indelible mark on Gisenyi, current day Rubavu, 20 years after the Genocide against the Tutsi.
The Kangura newpaper that Ngeze used to spread the genocide ideology. Net photo.
The Kangura newpaper that Ngeze used to spread the genocide ideology. Net photo.

The radical Kangura newspaper, and its editor, Hassan Ngeze, have left an indelible mark on Gisenyi, current day Rubavu, 20 years after the Genocide against the Tutsi.

Perhaps most memorable about the newspaper, among other virulent articles, is the issue in which Ngeze published what he called the 10 Hutu Commandments. 

Hassan Segacaca, a resident of Rubavu, still remembers vividly how this publication radicalised Rwandans, leading to the Genocide.

 “Neighbours would unleash machetes on to people they had lived with for generations, wiping out families in their entirety,” he says.

 “I know Ngeze and his unprecedented rise to prominence from a humble bus conductor, to a newspaper vendor and eventually to a publisher of a newspaper that was heavily funded by the state,” he adds.

Segacaca worked as a money changer on the Rwanda-DRC border before the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

He said Ngeze’s career in media started from Kanguka, a moderate newspaper, which, like Kangura, published in Kinyarwanda, before he was ‘poached’ by state operatives to start Kangura.

After Ngeze left Kanguka for Kangura, the authorities banned  the former and branded it a Tutsi publication.

“Kangura played a key role in inciting genocide and its financial muscle enabled it to spread far and wide. Its intention was clear; radicalise the Hutu to wipe out the Tutsi,” Segacaca says.

The newspaper often published names of Tutsis accused of being enemies of the state whom it said were collaborating with the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF).

Whoever  had his name published never lived to see the next day, says Segacaca. Segacaca says he has remained skeptical about the country’s media because of the way Ngeze and other journalists abused the trust the public had bestowed upon them by abetting the extermination of the Tutsi.Among the people whose death can be pinned on Ngeze and his publication is one Eustache Rwemarika, a former businessman whom the paper accused of collaborating with RPA and was forced to flee only to be killed later.

“I happen to have read most of the issues published by Kangura and I noticed that most of the authors of the stories were not journalists. It was a hate propaganda tool and it served well its purpose. It also published many articles written by top government officials,” he says.

Currently, Ngeze is serving his 35-year prison sentence in Mali after an appeals chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda reduced the life sentence that had been handed to him by the trial chamber of the same UN-backed court.

He was arrested in 1997 in Nairobi, Kenya and he was part of the so-called Media Trial at the Tanzania-based court. His co-accused, Ferdinand Nahimana, the former director of RTLM, a hate radio station that was also instrumental in the Genocide,  was sentenced to 30 years while Jean Bosco Barayagwiza died before completing his 32-year sentence.  

Summary of ICTR ruling in the Media Trial

Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza was one of the principal founders of CDR and played a leading role in its formation and development. He was a decision-maker for the party. The killing of Tutsi civilians was promoted by Barayagwiza himself and by CDR members in his presence at public meetings and demonstrations. Barayagwiza supervised roadblocks manned by the Impuzamugambi, established to stop and kill Tutsi. Barayagwiza was at the organizational helm of CDR. He was also on site at the meetings, demonstrations and roadblocks that created an infrastructure for the

Killing of Tutsi civilians. For this reason, the Chamber finds him guilty of instigating acts of genocide committed by CDR members and Impuzamugambi, pursuant to Article 6(1) of its Statute. For his individual acts in planning the killing of Tutsi civilians, the Chamber finds him guilty of genocide, pursuant to Article 6(1) of its Statute.

Although Nahimana disclaimed responsibility for RTLM broadcasting after 6 April, the Chamber considers this disclaimer too facile. Nahimana’s interview on Radio Rwanda, in which he said he was very happy with RTLM’s instrumental role in awakening the Hutu population, took place while the genocide was underway; the massacre of the Tutsi population was ongoing. Nahimana may have been less actively involved in the daily affairs of RTLM after 6 April 1994, but RTLM did not deviate from the course he had set for it before 6 April 1994. The programming of RTLM after 6 April built on the foundations created for it before 6 April. RTLM was

Nahimana’s weapon of choice, which he used to instigate the acts of genocide that occurred. For this reason the Chamber finds Nahimana guilty of genocide pursuant to Article 6(1) of its statute.

Based on this evidence, the Chamber finds that Ferdinand Nahimana, Jean Bosco Barayagwiza and Hassan Ngeze acted with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, the Tutsi ethnic group. The identification of Tutsi individuals as enemies of the state associated with political opposition, simply by virtue of their Tutsi ethnicity, underscores the fact that their membership in the ethnic group, as such, was the sole basis on which they were targeted.

With regard to Kangura, in perhaps its most graphic expression of genocidal intent, the cover of Kangura No. 26 answered the question “What Weapons Shall We Use To Conquer The Inyenzi Once And For All?” with the depiction of a machete. That the Tutsi ethnic group was the target of the machete was                         clear. 


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