“Kwa Mushimire”, “Kwa Lando”, “Kwa Rwahama”, “Kwa Rubangura” or “Kwa Nyiranuma”; these are some of the many places in Kigali that have been famously named after people to the extent that even the actual names of these localities are forgotten. It is something that is common in most parts of Rwanda. A shop that came up before others in a certain area is likely to lead to the area being named after the owner of that shop, or whatever establishment there is that is synonymous with the person. In the City of Kigali, certain locations have been named after individuals. As a result, some of these places have become more commonly known by these names, to the point where even some of the people who use them are unaware of their origin. Take an example of ‘Kwa Mushimire’, an area located in Kibagabaga cell, Kimironko sector, Gasabo District. Since the early 2000’s, the locality has been named after one Eric Mushimire, a businessman and builder who keeps a low profile. The New Times set out to find out why the area was named after him. Surprisingly, while many of these places are named after older people, some of whom have passed on or are elderly, ‘Kwa Mushimire’ is named after Eric Mushimire, a stoic 57-year-old businessman and survivor of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Born in a family of eight, in August 1966 in Kimihurura, formerly Commune Rubungo, Mushimire and his family relocated to Kimironko in 1975, after citizens were expropriated from the area for the establishment of ‘Camp GP’, which was a barracks for Presidential Guards, not the Republican Guard. Upon moving to Kimironko, his parents settled where the former Kimironko Prison is located, acquiring the land stretching all the way down where the trading centre is, currently known as ‘Kwa Mushimire’. Compared to the current urban image, the area was a ‘village’ characterised by banana plantations, crop gardens and no roads to connect it to the city. It is here that Mushimire and his family lived. “It was far different from what we see today. It was a village with little or no developments, save for the households that lived here but it wasn’t considered part of the city,” Mushimire says. Born to Pascal Nzaramba and Kiliseria Mukobwushaka, his father named him Mushimire after his friend who was killed in the early attacks targeting people known as ‘Inyenzi’, who were Tutsi, in the early 60s. “He wanted to pay tribute to his friend whom he considered a brother, so he called me Mushimire,” he says. Mushimire started working at an early age. He always dreamed of becoming successful and he always wanted to be in the construction industry and that is where he is today. “Because of the situation at the time, opportunities for education were limited, not because we were not bright, but rather because of the discrimination in education at the time,” he says. However, he got a chance to pursue vocational studies, particularly in construction and today he is among the successful players in the construction industry. In the lead up to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Mushimire’s family endured years of persecution and discrimination due to the bad politics in Rwanda at the time. As a young man, when the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF-Inkotanyi) liberation struggle started in 1990, he left the country to join. “I joined the liberation struggle to fight for our country. After we triumphed against the genocidal government, I returned home to Kimironko. I was welcomed by devastation. “Houses had been demolished, people had been killed in numbers, including my parents, siblings and family members, but luckily some had survived, including some neighbours I knew. We reconnected and came together,” Mushimire says. It was a mess. Dead bodies still littered the area, buildings were in ruins and banana plantations had been cut down. His parents had been killed and out of eight siblings, only three survived. Picking up the pieces Before he knew it, word went around that “Mushimire” who had disappeared had returned. All eyes were on him. Many wondered how he would handle the situation. His name became a talking point. It is at this point that his name started becoming popular. Mushimire stood in the gap, began rehabilitating the area, clearing up the overgrown shrubs and re-organising his family assets. Soon, people started coming to buy land and establish business and he welcomed them. The area came back to life. He continued to establish himself and time came and he was discharged from the army. Upon being discharged, he joined local government entities as he transitioned into civilian life. As a local leader, Mushimire worked closely with the people in Kimironko, participating in different initiatives, which made his name popular in the neighbourhood. During Gacaca courts, he was elected to the court to try Genocide cases. These were difficult cases which required a lot of wisdom, managing one’s emotions, considering that he was a survivor, but the country was determined to deliver justice, unite and reconcile. “We had many Genocide suspects here. We collected information, put it together and people appreciated our efforts and we were assigned other cases in other sectors,” he said, adding that it is at this time that his name came to be known. But that is not all, the area he inherited was poor, dilapidated and with no access roads, but the current government constructed a road and it soon became an end point for public buses and motorcycles. Mushimire did his part to rehabilitate the area and much as he didn’t have many development initiatives than others, it could be the reason why the locality was named after him. “It was around 2000 when people started to call this place ‘kwa Mushimire’, especially when bicycles, motorcycles and eventually taxis, started coming to this part of the city, as roads improved,” he says. He does not see it as a big deal that the place is named after him. To him, it feels normal and he doesn’t read much into it but to him, it is also a sign of integrity for him as long the name is not used in a bad way. However, it is also baffling for him that the area was named after him, even though he doesn’t own all the properties in the trading centre. “I have some houses here but all the buildings here are not mine. There are some people who have bigger and bigger buildings than me, so I don’t think it is about what I own here.” What is even more surprising is the fact that Mushimire no longer lives in the area but interestingly, the neighbourhood continues to be named after him. His current home is however located in the more affluent Kibagabaga area. Regardless, many continue to call it ‘Kwa Mushimire’ but it doesn’t bother him at all. The father of four (three daughters and one son), also has many other children he adopted, especially those who lost their parents in the Genocide. To him, it was more of a calling because he knows what transpired in Rwanda. His long-term plan is to construct a huge mall in honour of all the people who were killed in the area, especially his own family and relatives. “I want to build something which will make people say ‘that was built by Mushimire, the one whose relatives perished, the one who survived’,” he said, adding that it will be a strong and defiant message to those who killed them that people cannot perish for good. “Their mission was to exterminate everyone and take whatever they had but they never achieved that. So, God willing, if I get the resources, I will raze the current buildings and put up a shopping mall. I think that would be more meaningful,” he says.