According to the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide CNLG, the footprints of genocide ideology in the country can be traced from the ‘50s and ‘60s through incendiary speeches by prominent politicians of the time.
But it took some years to infest many Rwandans with the ideology although it had for years been there for all to see, including in official documentation that categorised all Rwandans along ethnic lines of Hutu, Tutsi or Twa.
Among the areas that took long to give in to the ‘cheap politics’ of ethnicity were residents of Rwankuba in the former Murambi Commune of today’s Gatsibo District in Eastern Province.
Murambi is one of the infamous communes where the Genocide is more vivid in its viciousness, killing about 15,000 Tutsis in just four days.
According to residents of Rwankuba, the genocide ideology seeped into their area in 1990, twenty-seven years after the infamous speech by Gregoire Kayibanda in October 1963 that emphasised ethnicity, calling Tutsis as hypocrites.
The last nail in the evil plots of spreading the genocide ideology in Rwankuba was driven by Jean Baptiste Gatete, former Bourgmestre of Murambi Commune.
Gatete, a native of Rwankuba, yielded to ‘hatred against Tutsi’ in his youth and graduated in agriculture engineering as a fanatic MRND supporter, the political party that was in power then.
Jailing patriotic men of Rwankuba
According to the long-time residents of Rwankuba, the very first act of wickedness that weakened their unity was jailing those who resisted divisionism in Rwankuba.
Boniface Nyemazi tells a story of how his grandfather, Rwema rwa Rubimbura, and others were protected by all residents of Rwankuba during the massacres of Tutsi in 1959.
“People insisted that they could not allow any bloodletting in their area and protected Tutsi, including my grandfather. We grew up so intact with all people because we knew we were just Rwandans at best” he said.
“It was the Belgians who came to dismantle the resistance of the residents and took most of them into custody”.
The fall of Ingorabahizi troupe
For generations, Rwankuba had a cultural troupe called Ingorabahizi. It had been handed from one generation to another.
Senator Tito Rutaremara is one of the few living Rwandans who danced in Ingorabahizi before his family was exiled to Uganda.
Beatrice Mukamisha, 57, remembers vividly that as men went to Itorero, the women also went to Urubohero where they made baskets.
The coming of ‘strangers from north’
Claude Manzi, one of the Genocide survivors from Murambi, recalls that sometime in 1990 some people from north invaded Murambi Commune.
“They called themselves Abakiga and warned us that, ‘should the Rwanda Patriotic Front come to Rwankuba, we will kill all of you,’” said Nyemazi.
These strangers worked with the then Bourgmestre to call upon the youth into evil plots against the Tutsi and most of those from Rwankuba started giving up resistance.
By 1991, according to Mukamisha, it was only the elderly of Rwankuba who were still sticking to their unity.
“In December 1991, our family was raided by the strangers from north and some youths of Rwankuba”.
That was the starting point of the fire that culminated into the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwankuba.