The 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi took place before AS Kigali midfielder Eric ‘Zidane’ Nsabimana was born. He was in his mother’s womb at the time.
His father Apollinaire Rurangirwa and brother Egide Murabukirwa are among the over one million victims of the Genocide. They were killed on April 23, 1994, months before Nsabimana was born.
Nsabimana was born on October 11, 1994 after the country had been liberated from the genocidal regime by the Rwanda Patriotic Army, now Rwanda Defence Forces.
The 23-year-old says he is yet to come to terms with the manner in which he lost his father and brother.
“I never got a chance to see them,” he tells Times Sport.
A week of official mourning is currently being observed countrywide as Rwandans reflect on the loss of over one million people in just 100 days during the Genocide against the Tutsi.
It is also an opportunity for Rwandans to reflect on the progress made in reconciliation 24 years after the Genocide.
Nsabimana’s mother survived along with his three sisters and brother.
In 2006, his elder brother Fidele Murasira was killed by terrorist group FDLR who had infiltrated their village in Rukumberi, Ngoma District.
FDLR was established by members of the defeated genocidal regime and most of its rank and file continue to espouse genocide ideology. The group is based in eastern DR Congo.
“My brother had traveled back home to our ancestral home to check on our property but he was attacked and butchered by machete-wielding militiamen; his body was later recovered in a banana plantation. Those who killed him were never apprehended.”
“I have been struggling with many things but the one that hurts me most is growing up without knowing my father and that he was killed for his ethnicity,” he says. “It robbed me of his guidance because the stories that my mother tells me about him are that he was a principled and upright man.”
Nonetheless, Nsabimana says that football has played a key role in helping him cope with the loss of his family members.
Nsabimana’s break came at the 2011 U-17 African Nations Cup where he impressed and was drafted in the team that represented Rwanda in the U-17 World Cup that same year.
He would later play for Isonga FC before joining APR but then a spate of injuries restricted his playing time for the military side.
The defensive midfielder joined AS Kigali in 2015 and is presently one of the club’s most influential players.