Why clerics need to show remorse to Genocide survivors

Standing before believers to merely preach and forget that we owe [clerics] Genocide survivors an apology is not really a good idea, a cleric in Nyarugenge District said Friday.
Bishop Innocent Nzeyimana (L), Sheikh Kassim Nzanahayo (C) and Father Gerrard Nshagayimana beg pardon to a genocide survivor on behalf of religious communities. / Eddie Nsabimana
Bishop Innocent Nzeyimana (L), Sheikh Kassim Nzanahayo (C) and Father Gerrard Nshagayimana beg pardon to a genocide survivor on behalf of religious communities. / Eddie Nsabimana

Standing before believers to merely preach and forget that we owe [clerics] Genocide survivors an apology is not really a good idea, a cleric in Nyarugenge District said Friday.

Bishop Innocent Nzeyimana, the president of Churches’ Forum in Nyarugenge District, was speaking at a commemoration event to remember former Butamwa and Nyarugenge communes’ employees who were killed during the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.

 

Bishop Nzeyimana apologised to Genocide survivors who lost their families as a result of the church failing to control their church communities and stop them from murdering the Tutsi.

 

“We have to admit that our people made too many mistakes when they killed those who they were serving God together. That is why , with my fellow religious leaders, I am standing here begging pardon on behalf of our church communities that perpetuated the killings and we hope you received our apology,” Bishop Nzeyimana told survivors.

 

He made the apology alongside Fr Gerard Nshagayimana of St Charles Lwanga Catholic Church Parish, and Sheikh Kassim Nzanahayo, the president of Sheikhs’ Council in Rwanda, who represented Muslims at the commemoration function.

Senate vice-president Jeanne d’Arc Gakuba reminded the clerics that their contribution is still needed in the country’s rebuilding process.

She tasked them to help the country change people’s mindset from denying Genocide to fighting it during their preaching sessions, especially focusing on youth.

“It’s a pity to hear people in different parts of the country and abroad still habouring Genocide ideology,” Gakuba said.

“But our joint efforts will fight any form of Genocide ideology or denial since we are all aware of the consequences of the country’s past history which resulted into loss lives of over a million Tutsi. We want not only churches but every body’s contribution to succeed in this.”

Remembrance

The ceremony was preceded by a walk to remember as the district residents and officials headed to Nyanza Genocide Memorial in Kicukiro District to pay tribute to the Genocide victims laid to rest there.

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Genocide survivors in Nyarugenge pray for the bodies of their lost families before taking them to Nyanza Genocide Memorial. / Eddie Nsabimana

During the commemoration, remains of 35 Genocide victims recently discovered in each of the district’s sectors were given decent burial at the memorial.

These include remains of 20 people discovered in Nyakabanda, among which nine were retrieved in the house foundation of a resident in the sector.

The memorial was already home to the remains of some 11,000 victims.

“Many were shocked to hear that people have built houses over Genocide victims’ remains but a lot of efforts are needed to change their mindset to contribute in the country’s rebuilding process,”Gakuba said.

“But something that makes us feel strong is that Genocide will never happen again thanks to the country’s good governance, which is hopefully a ‘Genocide vaccination’ to our children.”

Kayisime Nzaramba, Nyarugenge mayor, consoled survivors, adding that the search is still ongoing for remains of victims yet to be discovered in order to give them decent burial.

He called on residents to report once they find out where the remains of other victims were dumped.

Beatrice Mukeshimana, a Genocide survivor whose father’s remains had been buried under the resident’s house foundation, said he felt a bit of relief after giving the remains a befitting burial.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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