Akagera riverbank to host Genocide memorial site

Plans are underway to construct a Genocide memorial on the shores of River Akagera, the umbrella organisation for the survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Ibuka, has confirmed.
Students from different schools around East Africa commemorate the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi by putting flowers in Nyabarongo river last week. (John Mbanda)
Students from different schools around East Africa commemorate the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi by putting flowers in Nyabarongo river last week. (John Mbanda)

Plans are underway to construct a Genocide memorial on the shores of River Akagera, the umbrella organisation for the survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Ibuka, has confirmed.

The site will be set up at Migera, one of the crossing points along the river that was used by the Tutsi trying to escape massacres during the 1994 Genocide.

Migera is located in Nasho Cell, Mpanga Sector in Kirehe District.

An unspecified number of Tutsi were killed by Interahamwe militia before they could cross to Tanzania via Migera, according to survivors.

Vincent Nsengiyumva, the coordinator of Ibuka in Kirehe District, said discussions with the National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide (CNLG) were underway to set up a structure on the banks of River Akagera that will be used for commemoration.

“Ibuka is working closely with CNLG to see that a memorial site is built. There will also be a big wall on which names of victims will be written…we actually call upon survivors to start compiling details of the victims to be written on the wall,” he said.

Nsengiyumva also disclosed that a similar site would be constructed at another point along the river, in Nyamatete.

“A feasibility study has already been carried out to put a similar structure at Nyamatete in Mpanga Sector. We are going to contact the district to release money,” he said.

“Several Tutsi were killed before their bodies were thrown in the river to be eaten by crocodiles.

This is a place where our relatives perished…it would thus serve a purpose if it was made into a memorial site, a place where we could always come to remember our loved ones,” said Jean Kamugundu, a survivor.

Elizabeth Muzarehe, who survived the killing in the area, said an unknown number of Tutsi died as they tried to flee to Tanzania.

She said she survived using an alternative route after escaping Migera massacres.

“Few people and I, managed to escape…we were lucky to meet a ‘Good Samaritan’ who gave us a ride in a boat to cross over to Tanzania,” she said.

“It was horrible, we were way-laid by machete wielding militia men, who slaughtered people like goats and hurled them in the river. No one will ever know the exact number, but they were in thousands. We hope the government will build a memorial site for here so that we keep remembering the tragic history and our people,” she said.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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