Mont Kigali: ‘Sacred’ cave where Christians converge for worship

commonly known as Mont Kigali, this sacred place has its unique place in the hearts of Rwandan Christians who have made it a habit to converge here for prayers.
One of the entrances of the ‘sacred’ cave in Rubona village, Nyarugenge district, where the faithful converge for worship.   The New Times/ Timothy Kisambira.
One of the entrances of the ‘sacred’ cave in Rubona village, Nyarugenge district, where the faithful converge for worship. The New Times/ Timothy Kisambira.

commonly known as Mont Kigali, this sacred place has its unique place in the hearts of Rwandan Christians who have made it a habit to converge here for prayers.

The place is a 30-minute drive off the Kigali main road in Rubona village, Nyarugenge district. It is a former mining site, according residents. It is about 10 minutes from residential areas, the path leading to which is surrounded by bushes, though indications are that the path is used regularly.

Residents say people come there from various churches but most of them are from Pentecostals Church.

It is around 6pm when I visit. A lady sits with a Bible waiting for others to start services. She is not willing to talk, neither does she want me to take her photos. But on further probing, she accepts to talk on condition of anonymity.

“We come here to worship God and ask Him for blessings; it is necessary to leave our normal churches and come here as Jesus once went in a desert to pray. As Christians we need to be far from the public and be closer to God,” she said.

‘Praying not insecurity’

“We are used to pray in our churches and we believe God is there but coming here is a special thing; God sees our will to sacrifice and come here.  We leave our homes and families for the sake of God, when I am here I feel it is different from the main stream churches,” she claims.

She said authorities do not allow them there, but remained adamant they cannot be prevented from praying.

“When we are here, we are organised. We only come for prayers. The time one spends here depends on how things are organised on a specific day,” she said.

Sacred place?

Residents say the place has been regarded sacred for decades.

Alex Kalisa, a motorcyclist, said he used to come to collect firewood during his childhood and had seen people at the place up to now.

“It is more than 10 years since I started seeing people who came to pray in the area. They come in groups and  go to that place which is like hell,” says Kalisa.

“We used to go there when we were young and it is very dark inside, but I have not gone back in recent times because when one reaches inside they feel lost for aeration. Those who know it well say it stretches 100 metres from its entrance,” Kalisa said.

What church leaders say

“I believe God is everywhere, Christians should look for Him in any place depending on one’s heart. I would rather pray to God in a church, but I can’t blame those who go in other places,” said a pastor in ADPER church, preferring anonymity as he is not authorised to speak on behalf of the church.

According to Bishop Smaragde Mbonyintege of the Catholic Diocese of Kabgayi, caves have no place in the Catholic Church.

“God is not found in a disorganised way. If someone has a church they should also follow the doctrine of that church. It is not valid to pray in such areas; it can be misleading,” he said.

Manasseh Gahima, a Gahini diocesan secretary, said everyone has his own way to meet God, but he does not believe that God lives in a desert, forest or mountains.

“God has nowhere to be looked for; looking for God is to open our hearts and He will come to us. I can’t point at any one but some people have got tired looking for God in mountains, forests, among other places,” he said.

Church regulations in Rwanda do not allow people to leave their respective churches to go to deserts, mountains, forests or other places for prayers.

Police Spokesperson Theos Badege told journalists previously that it is prohibited for anyone to hold prayers in forests, deserts, caves and rivers.

He urged Rwandans to pray in places which cannot pose them any insecurity.

Miracle seekers

Other people say Christians go to such places expecting miracles from God to take place there.

Sheikh Saleh Habimana, the head of political parties, NGOs and faith-based organisations at Rwanda Governance Board, said joining such sacred places is illegal.

“Under no circumstances are prayers allowed to harm the security, life, public order and safety. If a faith-based organisation leads people to pray in any place which is not recognised, they are breaking the law,” he said.

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