NGORORERO - As the nation, yesterday, celebrated Heroes’ Day, thousands of residents, together with local leaders paid tribute to the students who were killed at Nyange Secondary School, after they disobeyed orders to separate themselves along ethnic lines.
When the school, located in Ngororero Sector, was ambushed on March 18, 1997, the students were ordered to group themselves according to whether they were Hutu or Tutsi, but they refused insisting that they are all Rwandans.
During the event, yesterday, thousands of residents turned up and endured the heavy downpour to honour the six students and a guard who were brutally murdered on the night of March 18.
The students are identified as Sylvestre Bizimana, Chantal Mujawamahoro, Beatrice Mukambaraga, Seraphine Mukarutwaza, Helene Benimana, and Valens Ndemeye
Aloys Murigande, a survivor and former teacher at the school, vividly remembers the incident.
“It was shortly after dinner when the infiltrators came and they first killed the night guard who was at the entrance of the school. The other students were later killed when they refused to separate,” Murigande said.
“We always taught the students about patriotism and unity and I believe it is why they opted to die than to separate,” he added.
Murigande recalls that had it not been the intervention of soldiers who were camped at a nearby barracks, probably no one could have survived.
Despite the passing of time, sad memories still linger, especially for those who were directly affected by the horrible killings.
“I was in the room when my classmates died due to injuries sustained from the bullets and I still clearly remember the proceedings as if it was just yesterday,” Apollo Niyoyita, a student at the time said.
Speaking in honour of the deceased heroes, Col Goodman Ruzibiza, the commander of 201 Brigade which operates in the districts of Karongi, Rutsiro and Ngororero, called for more patriotism.
“The unfortunate death of our beloved sisters and brothers should not discourage us but instead provoke us to exhibit more unity and togetherness,” he said.