I was rescued by a mad man, recalls survivor

KIGALI - Hadn’t it been for a mad man, Béathe Mukandereye would not have survived the 1994 Genocide. 
Former IBUKA president François Ngarambe (L) and Kigali City Vice Mayor Jeanne d’Arc Gakuba in grief at Kigali Memorial Centre yesterday. (Photo/J. Mbanda).
Former IBUKA president François Ngarambe (L) and Kigali City Vice Mayor Jeanne d’Arc Gakuba in grief at Kigali Memorial Centre yesterday. (Photo/J. Mbanda).

KIGALI - Hadn’t it been for a mad man, Béathe Mukandereye would not have survived the 1994 Genocide.

A mentally disabled person pulled her out a pit latrine in Kigali’s Nyamirambo suburb in which she had been thrown alive by the Interahamwe militias.

Mukandereye narrated her story Monday during the fourteenth commemoration of the Genocide at Kigali Memorial Site. She spoke of her harrowing tale of torture at the hands of the then government-backed Interahamwe militias.

Mukandereye said that apart from the mad man whose name she did not mention, a group of street kids also helped save her from the clutches of her tormentors.

“The kids shouted at the attackers ‘you will not kill our mum because she has been the one giving us food,” she told mourners.

The fifty-year old woman, who has several scars on her face and deep cuts on her back, recalled how the militias killed her two children.

“The children sneaked out of our hiding place to go and pick avocado fruits that had fallen down, only to be noticed by the Interahamwe who immediately captured them and smashed them on a nearby tree,” she told mourners, most of who had come from Kigali suburbs.

Her testimony sparked  off wails and screams from the crowd, with some people being carried away after they appeared to be traumatised.

“The testimonies we are hearing show just how inhuman some of our people became. It is heroic for people who endured such suffering to come forward and share their experiences,” the Mayor of the City of Kigali, Dr Aisa Kirabo Kacyira, said.

She said such testimonies showed that there was a lot that should be done to return Genocide survivors to normalcy.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rosemary Museminali, said that the  genocide ideology was still a major obstacle to the ongoing healing process.

“Genocide ideology is not a theory but a real thing that is evident. It is noticed in the media through which some people are defaming and mudsling the leaders of this nation who stopped the Genocide,” said the minister.

She said the soldiers of the former guerrilla force, the Rwandese Patriotic Army, stopped the Genocide, and it was now the duty of every Rwandan to promote reconciliation and national development efforts.

The function climaxed with the burial of 174 remains of Genocide victims. Over 250,000 victims are buried at the Genocide Memorial site.

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