FEATURED: BPR commemorates Genocide victims, remembers former employees

Bodies that were laid to rest during the commemoration event.

Banque populaire Du Rwanda Plc (BPR Plc.) management and staff joined residents of Nkamba cell in Ruramira sector of Kayonza district at a commemoration event last week Wednesday 17th April 2019 to remember and honor the victims killed in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. The bank also remembered its former employees killed in the genocide against the Tutsi.

The journey to the commemoration event started at 7am from the bank’s Head Office in Kigali where employees from its different branches boarded buses and drove to Ruramira sector in Kayonza District

The commemoration event doubled up as a burial ceremony at Ruramira memorial site for 65 victims of which 52 of the bodies were recovered from a dam that supplied water to the rice fields in Kayonza District

Speaking at the commemoration event, the president of Ibuka in Kayonza District Ndindabahizi Didas called upon those who knew where bodies of the fallen victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi are, to come out and speak so that they can get a decent burial.

“We forgave those who did us bad. Yet we forgave willingly even those that did not ask for forgiveness.  We still are willing to forgive those who might ask our forgiveness.  So what I ask is that those that we forgive tell us where the bodies of our brothers and sisters are so we can give them a decent burial”

Maurice Toroitich the Managing Director of BPR Plc before laying a wreath at the memorial center.

He went on to say that because of the many swamps in the area, many Tutsi who were killed during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi were dumped in these water and it is the reason why many bodies have not got a decent burial

“I would beg the government and the local leaders to continue giving us support to make sure that we can unearth these bodies. What has made us move on and rebuild our country is that those that survived the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi lost much but didn't lose all. I thank the Government of Rwanda for what it has done in setting Rwanda on the right path of development and unity and reconciliation” said Ndidabahizi

While delivering his speech during the commemoration activity, Maurice Toroitich the Managing Director of BPR Plc said that the history of BPR strongly has its roots in Nkamba sector and it’s the reason that they chose to come and join the community in the 25th commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi

“We chose to come here because of the history the community of Nkamba has with the bank, it is where the first BPR bank was born. Every year we remember and honor the lives lost during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, what happened 25 years ago is to the Tutsi here in Ruramira sector and the rest of the country is never too easy to comprehend. The origin of bank Popularie is here in this sector and we are here because we know that founders, customers and friends of BPR could be buried in the cemetery behind us”

The MD thanked the Government of Rwanda for bringing peace and rebuilding the country.

“This is an opportunity for us as a financial institution to ensure that Rwanda's future is safe and secure. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Rwandan government in the way they have run the country into prosperity and we as a banking entity pledge to continue giving support where necessary and to fight together to see that what happened here never happens again. Today we have donated Frw2, 000, 000 million for the maintenance of the Ruramira memorial site and Frw8, 000,000 million to support the needs of the families of survivors residing in Ruramira sector who have the most pressing needs. The history of BPR is in this community and their vision is what has made BPR what it is today” said Toroitich.

The guest of honor senator Rugema Micheal while addressing the guests said the law that prohibits Genocide will not only punish those who deny genocide perpetrated in Rwanda or abroad but also those who will try to sensitize others people to commit genocide.

“The law will always punish all that still deny the Genocide and those who have information about where these bodies are and still refuse to disclose the information are breaking the law. The 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi happened during daylight and people saw where they were dumped. Let us do this and share the information as an act of togetherness and rebuild our nation” he added 

Mukamuhizi’s testimony

Before the Genocide against the Tutsi happened, I still recall some good times that we had back home. Being the second last born out of 13, I was treated like a queen by my family. I remember the love that we shared and how everyone wanted to do little favors for me to make me happy. However things started changing in our Jali sector in Bugesera District and it was evident even as a young child then that was being targeted by malicious people.

People started throwing stones on the roof of our house and calling us Tutsi and claimed that my father had children who had joined forces (Inkotanyi) in Uganda that were trying to over throw the Government.

It was in 1990 that they came for my dad and took him. I never saw my father again. We later heard that they had killed him along with others. His crime was because he was Tutsi.

Mukamuhizi Joselyne giving her testimony.

For a young kid of 8 years, that was strange to me. I remember my dad as a loving and generous person who would share the milk from our cows with his neighbors. I started being segregated at school because of my being a Tutsi. One day a teacher stood in front of our class and in a loud voice ordered every Tutsi to stand up.

At the time, I did not know the meaning or the difference and when I stayed seated, he shouted at me to stand up saying I was Tutsi. I was the only one in class and I wondered why my parents chose to be Tutsi. As a young girl, I concluded that it was the cows that made us Tutsi and I prayed that they would die so we could become Hutu’s and live a normal life with our neighbors.

Latter I realized that I was wrong. People came and took all our cows yet in spite of them gone, we were still called names and threatened openly that they are going to kill us all.

I remember a neighbor called Gatabazi where we would go and play with his kids. Many times I heard him telling me and my sisters that Tutsi are a bad ethnic group that should not mix with them.

There used to be a road block near our school and many times we were told to stand aside because we were Tutsi. We would be abused and beaten before they would let us pass and I remember my mother warning me about going to school in those dangerous days. 

But I insisted to continue going to school because life at home was not good. I was the only one going to school and I thought that it’s the only way I would change things back home.

Life continued to be hash but we lived through it until we heard that the then president’s plane had been shot down and that the Tutsi were responsible and are being hunted.

There was chaos and people started running and hiding. We started hearing rumors that whole families of Tutsi were being slaughtered. Kids were killed mercilessly and that is when our mother decided that we leave our house.

It was dark after six in the evening and we carried as little things as possible. Mum had a plan to reach some friends somewhere and I just followed as a little kid.

After days of hiding in sorghum plantations, we were hungry, tired and dirty and we were forced to come out and look for food and shelter.

Bodies of dead people were scattered along the roads and most people we had fled. Our mother decided that we split so that we increase our chances of survival. If we stayed together we could be killed at once.

We split and that was the last I saw my mother. She took the last born and she left me with the others and prayed that we meet some time which was not to be.

I thank God that I survived the nightmare and though I lost most of my relatives, am strong and able to move on. I thank the Government of Rwanda that liberated our country and also the management of BPR for the love and care that they have shown me as an employee. Bad things happened that have left us strong to fight and build a better Rwanda.

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