Staff of National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA) together with Huye district officials and residents on Monday commemorated the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis.
The NIRDA staff and residents in Huye had a night vigil on Monday at the institution where, around a big fire, paid tribute to former workers who perished during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.
It was really touching to see that a good number of the staff most of whom work in Kigali braved the odds and persevered and used the Kigali- Bugesera road through Rwabusoro- Nyanza in order to reach Huye in spite of the impassable over flooded Nyabarongo.
The event served specifically to honour employees who were killed, comfort survivors and the orphans left behind. The night was preceded with a walk to remember from the NIRDA offices to Ruhande Genocide Memorial Site, where they paid tribute to the victims of the 1994 Genocide.
Here, members laid wreaths in honor of the Genocide victims buried there, and Pastor Paul called on people to be forgiving and to always fight genocide ideologies so that the genocide is never again experienced.
After visiting the memorial, members walked back to the NIRDA memorial where the main event of the day was held.
Giving his speech, the Huye district mayor Eugene Muzuka said it’s everyone’s responsibility to fight genocide ideology and to remind those still harboring it that they will be penalized by the Law.
“It’s imperative for people to be taught about the laws concerning the genocide and those denying it will be prosecuted” Muzuka said.
The Mayor also noted that every single person in one way or another was affected by the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis and that the effects are still impacting on the country’s development to this day.
“It’s everyone’s responsibility to fight the ideology and to make sure that we unite to build a better nation and not to fight or discriminate against each other,” he added
Messages from different speakers who graced the event focused on this year’s commemoration theme about fighting genocide ideology, and they reminded those present to fight genocide denial.
The guest of Honor Dr. Gasanabo Jean Damascene of CNLG, was represented by the president of IBUKA Dr. Dusingizemungu Jean Pierre.
NIRDA staff to build a house for orphans
“To be abandoned by anyone in the world, including a father is one thing, but to be deprived of a both mother and a father at the same time is quite depressing,” recounts 27 year old Musabyemaria Assoumpta, tears rolling down her cheeks as she addresses NIRDA staff during the commemoration.
“It was a pain that I experienced for many years in my life when growing up from an orphanage.”
Maria recounts that life was pretty harsh on her side having lost both her parents at the age of five and again later to lose her husband in a car accident leaving her with three kids and nothing to survive on but handouts from well-wishers.
Seeing Musabyemaria and her brother Mwambali Eric smiling at the thought of getting a new home brings happiness and hope.
The two, are children of Kayitende Damascene, who once worked for IRST now NIRDA in Huye and was among those killed in the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis.
Mwambali who is a senior six student in Espanya Nyanza Senior Secondary School says the act of valor has really shown that NIRDA cares and that it will be a relief to have a place he calls home.
“It’s a nice feeling that I will have somewhere to go back to, somewhere
I belong, a place I call home. I am grateful and I can now concentrate fully on my studies” says Mwambali
According to the Director General of NIRDA, Joseph Mungarulire, the institution has decided to build a house for these children as part of the acts they do every year when remembering their staff that died during the Genocide.
“We try to help most of these people but it’s a challenge because they are many out there who need help. So we identify the most vulnerable and we give them priority over the rest,” said Mungarulire.
For this particular act, NIRDA is working together with the district of Huye that provided the plot on which the house is to be built.
“We thought of giving them something that will benefit them in the future. Money to the tune of Rwf400,000 has been collected by our staff and has been put aside to start building the house. NIRDA will be paying their rent for a year during the construction period,” he added.
Iyakaremye Marguerite’s testimony on surviving the Genocide
I still recall the horrors of the 1994 genocide and my survival depended on many factors one being the family I was staying with.
Back in the days, my mother was married to my father and when she divorced him, she took us back to her parents’ home here in Huye.
As we grew up, I didn’t know anything about being a Tutsi or Hutu but I recall a time when my mother got us identity cards and on reading mine, I saw that it was written on Hutu. Little did I know that later in life those words would stand between me and the people hungering for my blood.
When I grew up, I gave birth to a son and I got a job at IRST, responsible for cleaning the institution. I used to come up to the main block to pick utensils for cleaning.
Before long, people started to have small meetings and it was not until much later, that I realized the meetings were targeting Tutsi and were about the Genocide.
There was a change in the atmosphere and people were suspicious of one another. One day my uncle walked up to me and asked whether I had a minute so we could talk.
He wantedto know if I was aware of my ethnic background and whether I knew if I was Hutu or Tutsi. I told him that my national ID says I am Hutu and that was it.
He warned me that in spite of the Indagamuntu I was holding, people know about me and that they are eventually going to come for me.
I was terrified of losing my life but I was not convinced that these people I grew up knowing would eventually turn on me and kill me in the presence of my mother’s family. I knew I was safe but things started getting out of hand.
I remember one man who was our neighbor and workmate here at NIRDA.
He was always talking about my not being one of them and that I had a kid with Inkontanyi
Things started changing. One day we were told not to report to work and that is when I realized that something bad was about to happen. You could feel it in the air, something strange.
One day while my mother was shopping for the family, a lady she knew approached her and asked her about me and where I was. Sensing the reason that triggered these questions she told her that I had long left the village and that I had abandoned my little son.
On reaching home, she called me and told me under no circumstances should
I ever leave the house. Roadblocks were everywhere and the Interahamwe were grouping every day. Because I never left the house, I heard rumors that Tutsi were being killed in numbers.
One day my uncle told me that they were giving workers money at my place of work and that we should go and pick it.
I was terrified but he convinced me that with my Identity and his presence,
I was safe. The next morning we left home and moved towards the town.
We meet the first road block just as we left home and my knees turned to jelly.
We were stopped and the Interahamwe asked for our papers. My uncle talked to them and before I could present my papers, he pulled me and said ‘it’s not necessary; let’s go.’
Much further down the road, we started seeing clothes scattered alongside the road and that is when I started seeing bodies. We were practically jumping bodies, panic took the best of me but I managed to stay calm.
We reached my place of work and they gave me the money I had come for. My fear was now about how to get back home safely without being spotted and killed.
Though I was in a daze, with the many bodies and ongoing killings around us, we managed to make it home safely.
From that day, my mother locked us in the house with my kid and we never left the house again until normalcy returned.
In the aftermath of it all, life slowly turned to normal and some of our neighbors would be surprised to see me asking how I was going to live with all your people gone. But I do thank God that I survived and I thank the management of NIRDA for bringing us back here every year to remember our beloved ones.